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Society Training Day – An Appeal to the Passionate

“I wish the new federation well, warmly applaud the initiative that has brought it into existence, and feel happier about the future as a result. This is more than another candle in the dark, it is a whole candelabrum, shining its welcome light onto the forward path, for the many who see the world as a natural realm, for which the responsibility – for the planet’s health as for the peace, flourishing and good of all its human residents – belongs to humankind alone.”

- A.C Grayling

A.C Grayling was correct to point out, as the above quote states, that the National Federation of Atheist, Humanist and Secular Student Societies (The AHS) is a shining light, in a room blackened by superstition and stupidity. This coming weekend we welcome over 15 different societies from all over Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland to the AHS’s first ever Society Training Day held at the University of Nottingham.

The AHS often provides training at the AHS Convention and the Annual General Meeting, but it has never before focused an event that tailors purely for training. This year, the Executive decided to refocus training and create an event that puts you all in the same room as your colleagues from different universities and so allowing you to share ideas, improve, and be inspired. Those holding the candelabrum are the AHS Officers, who offer a huge range of experience and can impart their vast knowledge on to you. These Officers come from various universities across the country, and offer years of valuable experience running the very societies that you run, or attend, at the moment. Who better then to provide training, than those giants upon whose shoulders you stand?

It is a day where that shining light of the candelabrum can operate like a lighthouse in the midst of mist, rocky and turbulent seas.

This event is not, by any means, going to be you guys simply listening to us. Rather it will be us giving advice, useful skills and subtle suggestions and then you guys can and will, I am sure, discuss what is useful about say, social media and perhaps what you as a society has done that others may benefit from. Perhaps you have had a particular idea for an event that you feel could be useful for other societies to use too? Perhaps you are thinking about running for a committee position but you are unsure what it may involve and so want to be informed before making a decision? Maybe you have found somethings really difficult and you feel you need some specialist guidance? Or maybe you just enjoy like-minded people? Whatever the reason, the University of Nottingham will host some of the most interesting and intelligent people in the country who, like yourselves, are all passionate about atheism, secularism and humanism and are committed to a future where the light of truth, beauty and reason prevail against the darkness of superstition, hysteria and unsubstantiated claims.

For more information please visit our page here, and join the Facebook event group here.

I look forward to welcoming you all.

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AHS Newsletter

1st February 15

It happens to be the coldest month, as well as the cruelest. Dry January is over, you’ve forgotten what your new year’s resolutions even were, and second term is kicking you repeatedly in the face. What choice do we have but to curl up into a ball and submit to the relentless assault of the shortest (and therefore angriest) month there is?

Many choices, as it happens! UNASH – those unstoppable activism juggernaughts – are delighted to announce that Nottingham University’s student union has granted them £200 to run weekly Rationality workshops. These sessions will examine how we all think, dissect common presuppositions and cognitive biases, and illuminate a path to clearer, fairer and more critical thought. There is no shame in emulation, so if this sounds like the sort of outreach your university might benefit from, why not get in touch with Martin Smith for advice on how to go about setting up a similar initiative?

Great news from Exeter AHS too: a recent talk by A. C. Grayling proved so popular that students were asked to sit on the floor, and then in the aisles, and then had to be physically turned away by squadrons of armed security officers (I imagine). Check out the report featured in “Exeposé” below.

Great start to the year so far, I hope we can all agree. Let’s keep it up.

Yours optimistically,

Luke Dabin

Communications Officer




A quick reminder to all concerned:
As the year waxes, society activity tends to follow suit. There’re some wonderful plans being drawn up across the nation to great effect, and one of the roles of this newsletter is to communicate the great things our individual members do to the Federation as a whole. Not only can other societies benefit from your society’s ingenuity and example, such reporting also paints a picture of our potency as a movement and gives us all something to talk about at conventions and AGMs and whatnot.

Unfortunately I must remind you all that if you do not email your news and/or views to me at, this will not happen.

If your society or members of your society have held a critical event, written or been mentioned in a particularly interesting article, or accomplished something the world must know about, please send all relevant information to me, your communications officer, at the email address in this newsletter’s opener. I will do my best to feature everything I am sent (within reason, obviously).

Best of luck with all your efforts in 2015!



We are proud to announce that the 2015 AHS Convention page is now available to the general public.

Which puts me in a bit of an awkward situation as all available information is there already and to retype it would be somewhat redundant. So here’s a short salespiece:

The AHS Convention will be a 3 day event in March 2015. It’ll be held in London, which is handy as there’re loads of us there already (with floorspace!) and the city is relatively easy to travel to. There shall be a mixer social on Friday, speaker and panel sessions on the Saturday and a series of workshops on the Sunday. Student tickets are £20 for all 3 days, or free if you choose to join us for just the Sunday workshops. Grants are also available to subsidise travel costs on a first-come, first-served basis.

So if you fancy spending a weekend with a large number of similarly enthusiastic students, acquiring new skills and new contacts, and hearing a diverse roster of acclaimed humanists cover topics such as taking offence, faith and faithlessness, and morality, you must check out the website. And then buy a ticket. By clicking here.

See also:
Tickets & Travel Grants

Venues & Accessibility



David Fitzgerald, author of “Nailed: Ten Christian Myths That Show Jesus Never Existed At All”.
Maryam Namazie, unstoppable human rights activist.
Andrew Copson, CEO of the British Humanist Association and 5-times winner of the Groovin’ Humanist award for applied funk in the pursuit of civil equality.

And that’s not even all of them: to check out the full roster, Sheffield Freethought Convention mas made a slick website available for your perusal RIGHT HERE. So go and give it a skim and consider buying a ticket. For students, these are reasonably priced at £7 for the talks on Saturday, £10 for the whole three days and a tentative £30 for all three days including a glamorous dinner on the Saturday. There’s a Facebook event page too for those of us who like to visibly register our intent to attend and/or ask largely redundant questions, and information regarding where to stay can be found on the event website.

Also, check out Sheffield President Sylvia Broeckx being eloquent and interesting on Sheffield Live Radio here! You can get insight into how the convention is being designed as well as a little more information about which topics are up for discussion. If you’re short on time, I can summarise for you: with incredible care and consideration, and all of the topics. Here’s an approximate timesheet for your convenience.

05:50 – Introduction, Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro
12:45 – Charlie Hebdo
17:05 – Freethought and scepticism
27:05 – Verdi, Freedom of the Hebrew slaves
31:50 – Freethought Convention topics and speakers
51:00 – Chopin, Prelude in E Minor
54:30 – Outro



UK’s grandest and greatest Humanist gathering.
19-21st June 2015. Bristol.
Jim Al-Khalili. Alice Roberts. Richard Wiseman. Andrew Copson. More speakers TBA.
Web page.
Tickets now on sale. £40 student discount. Installment payments available.
Web page.
More information to come. Book now.




“Unbelievable” turnout: Believe it, baby

Exeter AHS recently hosted a talk by BHA vice-president A.C. Grayling which went, to put it conservatively, very well indeed.

As a shining example of the power of inter-society advertising, huge numbers of students attended from both the AHS society as well as students of philosophy, sociology and anthropology. You can read a short account of the event by a member of the latter camp here.

And of course, below is the feature from Exeter’s student newspaper for your reading pleasure.



The Big Debate: Copson vs. al-Andalusi

At the tail end of 2014, Northampton University hosted a debate between BHA heartthrob Andrew Copson and Abdullah al-Andalusi on four topics: Women’s Rights & Leadership, Gay Marriage, Animal Rights and Faith Schools. It was an interesting exchange.

That debate can be viewed in full on youtube at this address. al-Andalusi also has a cheerful account of the evening’s events which you can read on his website.



Featured Article: AHS Training, Nottingham

“Each and every aspect of the conference was infused with information on how to run a, positive, inclusive, and successful student society, whilst additionally providing a golden opportunity for personal reflection and professional development. We would wholeheartedly recommend all of our members attend future events in concert with the AHS and BHA.”

Glen Carrigan (University of Central Lancashire ASH) wrote a glowing retrospective of the AHS’s Society Training Weekend, which took place last month in Nottingham. Reading it evoked some fond memories of the weekend, as well as a certain amount of enthusiasm and pride in what we managed to achieve over the course of those three days. You can find it by clicking on the italicised excerpt above.

As well as it being a more than pleasant read, this piece is particularly relevant given the three conventions mentioned above. I’m definitely excited about the speakers – some of whom I’ve been wishing to meet in person for years – but a significant chunk of my motive for going is to experience once again the sense of community, cooperation and energy that comes with being in a big room with lots of AHS members and a not inconsiderable volume of beer.



What’s on where you are:

Regional Events: NORTH WEST

Some of you may have heard about a little event called the QED convention (Question, Explore, Discover). For QED 2015 a fine roster of speakers will gather in Manchester for two of the skeptical/humanist calendar’s brightest days.

(I hope we can agree that when it comes to Mitch Benn, Matt Dillahunty, Prof. Marcel Dicke, Dr. Lucie Green, Dr. Harriet Hall, Prof. Bruce Hood, Dame Sue Ion, Michael Marshall and Rosie Waterhouse, “fine” is at least an acceptable term.)

The convention takes place on 25th-26th April 2015 and tickets are only £69 for students. If even this is a bit steep, Friday 24th will be a free full-day event. There’s simply no excuse. Check the official website for further details including some very in-depth speaker profiles. More information to follow.

Regional Events: EVERYWHERE ELSE

When your society comes under the label “Everywhere else”, you just know that nothing’s happening. If your society has an upcoming event you’d like to be publicised, please contact your regional development officers. Otherwise, buy some train tickets, head out to one of the events above and make some new friends!

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