Date of Award

May 2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Joanne P. Waghorne


Baha'i, Comparative Religion, Greenacre, Vedanta, Yoga

Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities


This dissertation considers Sarah Farmer (1847-1916), the founder of the Greenacre Summer Conferences. Beginning in 1894 and continuing through 1916, Sarah Farmer hosted a program of lectures and classes intended as a continuation of the World Parliament of Religions held in Chicago the year before. While the Parliament arranged representatives of the “world religions” speaking side-by-side, the Greenacre Conferences emphasized conversation between religious and social movements, as well as encouraging attendees to experience and practice elements of religions, experimental healing, and more. They also emphasized a program of comparative religious study. The Conferences were particularly notable in the history of Vedanta, Transcendentalism, New Thought, and Baha’i. Ultimately Greenacre acted as a major force in disseminating a new spiritual inquiry focusing on Universal Truth, and incorporating a cosmopolitan, global orientation toward religion, science and social justice. Farmer created, not only a generative space for discussion and intellectual exchange, but also an embodied space where the practice of religions was emphasized. Attendees were encouraged to listen without judgment and to engage in practice and experimentation in a unique way.


Open Access