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UCLA Annual International Conference

300 Years of Freemasonry: Its Meaning at Its Founding and Today
Trace Freemasonry's Complex Evolution Throughout Centuries and Continents, from 1717-2017

Saturday, March 4
8:30 a.m. - 5:15 p.m.
Grand Horizon Ballroom, UCLA
$30 Conference registration/$20 Optional catered lunch

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A Global Journey

On June 26, 2017, Freemasons throughout the world will celebrate the 300th anniversary of the founding of the first grand lodge in England - considered to be the landmark date from which the fraternity's origins are measured. Although the values and rituals established by the earliest Masons are still at the heart of Freemasonry, it is an ever-evolving craft that has been inspired and transformed by the societies to which it has expanded as the years passed. Freemasonry has endured for centuries, but it remains a living craft that is handed down from generation to generation of good men seeking a more enlightened existence.

Join an international panel of esteemed Masonic scholars in tracing the evolution of Freemasonry as it expanded throughout the world and through an array of multicultural societies:

  • Explore the foundation of the first grand lodge: Is the 300th anniversary historically accurate, or is the "history" we ascribe to based on legends handed down through the ages?
  • Learn how a religious revolution sparked the fraternity's embrace of religious diversity, subjectivity, and rationalism.
  • Study the Masonic rites in 18th century France, how they affected candidates, and how these historic ritual experiences reflect upon today's rituals.
  • Discover how studying Freemasonry and government in early Mexico may offer insight into Masons' incentives to protect democratic societies.
  • Gain a better understanding of how Prince Hall Masonry has come to be recognized throughout most of the United States.

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Distinguished Presenters

  • Said Chaaya, Ph.D. is a historian of the modern Middle East. He is currently a postdoctoral research fellow in the UCLA History Department's Freemasonry and Civil Society Program.
  • Kenneth Loiselle, Ph.D. is a historian of 18th-century France with a particular interest in the history of Freemasonry. Loiselle is an associate professor of history and international studies at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, and an affiliated researcher at the Center for the Contemporary and Modern Mediterranean at the University of Nice in France.
  • Andrew Prescott, Ph.D. is professor of digital humanities at the University of Glasgow. From 2000-2007, he directed the Centre for Research into Freemasonry at the University of Sheffield. He has also served as a librarian and archivist at the University of Wales Lampeter and as head of the Digital Humanities Department at King's College in London.
  • Cécile Révauger, Ph.D. is professor emeritus of English studies at Bordeaux Montaigne University in France. She is the author of five books which have been translated into multiple languages, including, "Black Freemasonry: From Prince Hall to the Giants of Jazz, Inner Traditions," 2016. She is also the director of "Monde Maçonnique" - a collection on Freemasonry.
  • María Eugenia Vázquez Semadeni, Ph.D. was a visiting professor at the UCLA History Department from 2010 to 2016. She has published several articles and book chapters on Mexican Freemasonry, the origins of the political party system in Mexico, and the formation of public opinion.
  • Susan Mitchell Sommers, Ph.D. is professor of history at St Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. She is the author of "Parliamentary Politics of a County and Its Town: General Elections in Suffolk and Ipswich in the 18th Century" (2002) and "Thomas Dunckerley and English Freemasonry" (2012).


  • John L. Cooper III, Ph.D. is past grand master of Masons in California as well as past grand secretary of the Grand Lodge F. & A.M. of California. He is the author of numerous Masonic publications and is widely regarded as an expert on Masonic history and symbolism.
  • John R. Heisner, J.D. is grand master of Masons in California. He has held a number of esteemed leadership positions within the fraternity, including grand orator, and has been a Mason for 47 years. He is also a member of the Scottish Rite, Red Cross of Constantine, and the Rosicrucian College; a fellow of the Philalethes Society; and a founding member of Lux Masonic Lodge No. 846, a traditional observance lodge.
  • Margaret C. Jacob, Ph.D., distinguished professor of history at UCLA, is one of the world's foremost Masonic scholars. Her self-proclaimed "search for the historical reality of Freemasonry" first gained attention in 1983 with the publication of her book, "The Radical Enlightenment: Pantheists, Freemasons and Republicans." Jacob specializes in Masonic history, political theory, the history of science, and the movement of people and ideas.

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The UCLA International Conference is sponsored by:
CA Masonic Foundation



About the Conference

As part of its collaborative partnership with the history department at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), the Institute for Masonic Studies presents an annual International Conference on Freemasonry on the UCLA campus. Open to students, historians, and members of the general public, these events seek to educate and inspire scholars of the craft.

Past events

Past International Conferences have focused on American and Latin American Freemasonry, global Freemasonry, Freemasonry within civil society, Masonic conspiracy theories, and Freemasonry's spread to Africa and the Middle East.

Read a selection of papers from past UCLA conferences.

For more information about the International Conference, contact Member Services.

Contact Us

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p: (415) 776-7000