Each year, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, WomenExplore plans and runs two series of half-day conferences exploring topics that arise out of the participants concerns. Each series is a "course" on a single theme, with various topics each week. The conference topics and series themes emerge from the women who participate in group meetings of the Advisory Committee, open to anyone who attends a lecture, using a feminist process of sharing our lives and issues, and looking there for concerns from which to design future series. This unique method of designing the series is what makes WE so special. The issues range from the personal to the global.
At WE, women and men have found inspiration, encouragement, friendships, and healing.
WE is a charitable organization (as described in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code) with the purpose of providing educational programming of women's issues in religion and society, including, but not limited to, lectures and discussion groups.WE's Mission Statement: WE provides lecture series within a feminist learning community for women, to connect with the sacred dimensions of their experience and to support and encourage each other in the world community.
WomenExplore is a community of women and men interested in gaining deeper insight into their lives, relationships, and our world. WE brings together people of all faiths and none, to learn and share in a caring, nuturing community. Coming from diverse backgrounds, those who attend WE are from the greater Boston area as well as the rest of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Connecticut.
WomenExplore began as T.O.P., the Theological Opportunities Program, a program at the Harvard Divinity School, in 1973 and since then more than 4,500 have participated. Find out more about those involved.
While covid requires it WomenExplore has moved online via Zoom. For the online schedule see Online Thursday Schedule on the home page
WE's Time Schedule was adopted to give working people an opportunity to attend the lectures during their lunch break, with the main lecture taking place between 12 noon and 1pm.Thursday Schedule
|10.00am – 11.00am||Reflections, an informal conversation sparked by the lecture topics takes place before the lectures begin.|
|11am – 12 noon||Registration for the lectures is available in the Rosa Parks Room. Tea/coffee is provided and people have an opportunity to mingle|
|11.30am – 12 noon||Focus talk: A WE participant speaks about how the day's topic comes from her life|
|12 noon – 1pm||Keynote lecture:Expert guest speaker followed by questions and answers.|
|1pm – 1.30pm||Participatory Discussion: For those who can stay, discussion continues through further questions and comments from the audience|
|2.00pm – 3.30pm||Planning: The Advisory Committee convenes to plan the series a year ahead. At the beginning of the Fall 2020 series, planning was postponed to allow the Advisory Committee to concentrate on ensuring a successful fall lecture series.|
You can come to one conference, several, or to all. You can come to the whole day or to a part of it. Squeeze in an hour to attend the main lecture while you eat your lunch, spend an extra half hour to join the participatory discussion, or take two hours around lunch time to re-invigorate your mind. You are welcome to contribute to the planning of future series at any Planning meetings scheduled, or to just observe.
We accept each other as we present ourselves in the present moment with our own challenges and our own potential.
We honor the fact that each woman has been oppressed by the fact of living in a patriarchal system.
In order to accord equal respect to all, we avoid use of honorifics such as "Professor", "Doctor" or "Reverend" which elevate some people above the rest in a hierarchical manner.
We come together to realize how important it is to have a feminist analysis of our culture, our education and our society and the other patriarchal structures in which we live.
We empower one another to shape our own lives in authenticity.
We practice mutual respect in speech, in attention to the speaker and in sharing talking time.
"We hear each other into speech."
We nurture our connections to one another with open social events.
"Like a floating craps game, whoever shows up can play."
Original draft 10th September 2008 by pcm
WE has been set up as a charity with an educational mission. It is run by the Advisory Committee. A board was established as a legal requirement for the incorporation of WE in Massachusetts and in order to obtain non-profit status under section 501(c)3 of the Inland Revenue Code. WomenExplore is governed by its by-laws, and the legal Articles of Organization. Board members, and prospective Board members, should read the Attorney General’s Guide for Board Members of Charitable Organizations.
It is the job of the Board to oversee the executive director and program coordinator, when these positions are filled, and to ensure that WomenExplore faithfully carries out its purpose without extravagance or waste. The Board oversees, especially, the financial aspects of WE and expects to meet two or more times a year. The Board is responsible for overseeing fundraising and marketing.
Since 2008 the Board has been elected by the Advisory Committee. Advisory Committee members who have attended two or more Advisory Committee meetings in the last year are eligible to vote. Term limits for Board members are two years. (A retiring Board member may stand for election again.) Board elections are required to take place annually, at the last or second to last day of the spring series in May, to fill vacancies and provide a pool of candidates to fill any vacancies which occur during the year. Preferential voting is used — voters number the candidates in their order of preference. Newly elected Board members replace the retiring members at the Annual Meeting of the Board which occurs a week or two before the beginning of the fall series in September. Office bearers are determined by each new Board at this meeting.
The intention is that the board will only conduct the "legal" business. WomenExplore has a unique non-hierarchical structure. The major decisions remain in the hands of the large Advisory Committee. The board is responsible for providing leadership on financial matters, fund-raising and marketing. Any "processes" considered by the board would be submitted to the Advisory Committee for approval.