Bishop Mouneer Anis
Mouneer Hanna Anis is currently the Bishop of the Episcopal / Anglican Diocese of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa, as well as the President Bishop of Episcopal / Anglican Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East. Mouneer Anis received his Bachelors of Medicine and Surgery at Cairo University, Egypt in 1974. After receiving a diploma in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in London, England, Dr. Mouneer received a Certificate in Hospital Management and Administrations from the School of Public Health at the University of California. In 1999, Dr. Mouneer was ordained a priest and served at All Saints Cathedral, Cairo. Later, he became the Administrator of the Diocese of Egypt and later was elected by the Diocesan Synod to be the third Egyptian Bishop of the Diocese of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa. He then did practical and theological training at Moore Theological College in Sydney, Australia, the Diocese of Canterbury in Kent, England as well as Nashotah House in Wisconsin before his consecration. In 2000, Rev. Dr. Mouneer Anis was consecrated the Bishop of the Diocese of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa. In 2007, Bishop Mouneer was elected as the President Bishop of Jerusalem and the Middle East.
Rabbi Michael Melchior
Rabbi Michael Melchior is the Chief Rabbi of Norway, and a major figure in the global Jewish community. Rabbi Melchior was born in Denmark in 1954, and underwent his ordination as a rabbi at Yeshivat HaKotel in Jerusalem in 1980, and quickly was honored as the Chief Rabbi of Norway. Rabbi Melchior immigrated to Israel in 1986, and quickly became a prominent member of the political community. A member of Meimad (a left-wing Zionist political party), Melchior served as an assistant to the Israeli Minister without Portfolio, Yehuda Amital, in the mid-1990s.
Running for Knesset under the One Israel alliance, Melchior was appointed Minister of Social and Diaspora Affairs, which he served as for two years. In 2002, with Palestinian support, Rabbi Melchior spearheaded the Alexandria Process, which began at an interfaith summit in Alexandria, Egypt. With the help of several religious leaders from around the world, Rabbi Melchior explored interfaith cooperation in ending religious conflicts in the region. Since his time in Knesset ended in 2009, Rabbi Melchior has been a steadfast proponent of Arab-Israeli peace. Rabbi Melchior staunchly believes that peace in the Middle East is possible, and is in fact desired from all sides. Rabbi Melchior has received several prizes over the years, including The Norwegian Award for Tolerance and Bridge Building in the Noble Institute, The Church of England’s Coventry International Prize for Peace and Reconciliation, and the Liebhaber Prize for the Promotion of Religious Tolerance and Cultural Pluralism. Rabbi Melchior lives in Jerusalem with his wife Hanna, with whom he has five children.
Rabbi Dr. Marc Gopin is the Director of the Center for World Religions, Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution (CRDC), the James H. Laue Professor at the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University, and co-owner of MEJDI, a peace tourism business that embraces the multiple narratives of indigenous peoples. He has pioneered projects at CRDC in Afghanistan, Iran, Syria, Palestine, and Israel. In 1983, he was ordained as a rabbi at Yeshiva University. He then received a Ph.D. in religious ethics from Brandeis University in 1993. As an author, professor, researcher, and consultant, he brings an expert eye to issues of peace and global conflict. His emphasis is on the role of religion and culture in not only initiating conflict, but as critical to reaching last resolution between peoples and nations. Rabbi Dr. Gopin is the author of five books. Bridges Across an Impossible Divide: The Inner Lives of Arab and Jewish Peacemakers explores the role of self-examination in the resolution of human conflict as portrayed in the lives and testimonies of indigenous peacemakers. To Make the Earth Whole: The Art of Citizen Diplomacy in an Age of Reiligious Militancy studies the art of a citizen diplomacy- a process that can address clashes of religion and culture across regional lines even when traditional negotiations between governments can fail. Healing the Heart of Conflict presents an 8-step process based on great religious traditions, philosophy, and psychology for healing even the most destructive, and seemingly intractable, conflicts. Holy War, Holy Peace: How Religion Can Bring Peace to the Middle East asserts that the failure of peace process stems in large part from its complete neglect of cultural and religious factors, discusses the missing factors from the Oslo Process, and declares what will be culturally obligatory for a victorious Arab/ Israeli peace process. Between Eden and Armageddon: The Future of World Religions, Violence and Peacemaking innovates the theoretical and feasible infrastructure for capturing religion in the condition of conflict prevention, governance and resolution, and includes countless chapters in the principal edited volumes of the field of conflict resolution. Rabbi Dr. Gopin has engaged in back channel diplomacy with religious, political and military figures on both sides of conflicts. Furthermore, he has appeared on numerous media outlets, including CNN, CNN International, Al Jazeera English, Al Jazeera Arabic, Al Arabiyah, The Jim Lehrer News Hour, National Public Radio, Voice of America, and radio channels in Sweden and Northern Ireland. He has been published in numerous publications, including the International Herald Tribune, the Boston Globe, the Christian Science Monitor, and his work has been featured in news stories of the Times of London, the Times of India, Associated Press, and Newhouse News Service.
Imam Muhammad Ashafa and Pastor James Wuye
Imam Muhammad Ashafa and Pastor James Wuye are the co-directors of the Interfaith Meditation Center of the Muslim-Christian Dialogue in Kaduna, Nigeria. Their organization provides interfaith exposure to men and women of both faiths throughout the region. Imam Ashafa comes from a family of imams belonging to the Tijaniyyah order. A member of Islamist organizations in the 1980s and 1990s, Ashafa became Secretary General of the National Council of Muslim Youth Organizations. Due to Muslim-Christian violence, Ashafa lost his spiritual leader and two of his cousins. Through this tragedy, he met Pastor Wuye, the leader of the local chapter of the Youth Christian Association of Nigeria.
Wuye, a Christian activist and soldier’s son, lost an arm in the same confrontation that cost the lives of those dear to Ashafa. The two former enemies decided to work together and form the aforementioned organization, in order to build understanding between their two communities so that tragedies such as these will become less common. Since launching the Center in 1995, Imam Ashafa and Pastor Wuye have received the Breme Peace Award and the Fondation Chirac Prize for Conflict Prevention. In 2002 and 2004, similar confrontations began to occur again, and the Center helped to diffuse tension between the two religious groups. Both the Imam and the Pastor paid a heavy price in the conflicts of the past, and are certainly determined to make sure in this case, history does not repeat itself.
Dr. Joseph G. Bock
Dr. Joseph G. Bock is the Director of Graduate Studies at the Eck Institute for Global Health at the University of Notre Dame. An international humanitarian, Dr. Bock’s primary focus is violence prevention in troubled regions throughout the world. Dr. Bock received his Ph.D. in International Relations from the School of International Service at American University.
Bock has served with Catholic Relief Services in Pakistan and the West Bank/Gaza Strip, as well as serving with the American Refugee Committee in various locales around the world. A consultant to the World Bank, Bock has previously served the same function with The Asia Foundation, focusing on Thailand, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Dr. Bock previously served six years in the Missouri House of Representatives, acting as chair of the Energy and Environment Committee and Co-Chair of the Commerce Committee. Dr. Bock is a prolific speaker, having spoken at the World Bank, Woodrow Wilson Center, United Nations Assembly in Cairo, Oxford University, University of Karachi and Macalester College on a variety of topics including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, violence prevention, scenario analysis, ethnic violence and religious extremism. An active humanitarian in the Roman Catholic community, Dr. Bock has also served as a member of the Catholic humanitarian aid organization Caritas Internationalis based out of Vatican City. Dr. Bock is the author of three books, the latest of which is “The Technology of Non-Violence: Social Media and Violence Prevention”. A true man of the world, Dr. Bock’s presence has been felt across the globe through his humanitarian efforts and extensive work in violence prevention.
Sheik Ali Gomaa
Dr. Ali Gomaa was born in Beni Suef, Egypt and is the recently retired Grand Mufti of Egypt. After graduating from Ain Shams University in Cairo with a degree in Commerce, he enrolled in al-Azhar University, where he graduated with a Ph.D in Juristic Methodology. From the time he received his M.A. until he was appointed Grand Mufti, he was Professor of Juristic Methodologies at al-Azhar University. In addition to teaching classes on the university campus, he re-established the tradition of giving public lessons in the al-Azhar mosque. He noticed a number of students who had adopted an extremist approach to religion, and engaged the students challenging their understanding of Islam. He also offered them an alternative interpretation of their extremist views. As a result, many of these students renounced extremism and embraced the more moderate vision of Islam that he taught. To this day, this group of scholars continues the tradition of giving informal lessons in the al-Azhar mosque. In 2003, Dr. Ali Gomaa was appointed Grand Mufti of Egypt. Since taking on the position, he has revolutionized the process of issuing fatwas in Egypt, transforming Dar al-Ifta from an institution that was the annex of one individual (the Grand Mufti) to a modern institution with a fatwa council and a system of checks and balances. Furthermore, he has added a technological aspect to the institution by developing an advanced website and call center through which people can request fatwas even if they are unable to come to the institution personally. To this day, he is a prolific author and writer on Islamic issues. He also writes a weekly column in the Egyptian al-Ahram newspaper, where he discusses matters of current interest and religion.
Dr. Peter Coleman
Dr. Peter Coleman is the Associate Professor of Psychology and Education at Columbia University, where he teaches courses in conflict resolution, social psychology and social science research. Dr. Coleman earned his PhD in Social/Organizational Psychology from Teachers College at Columbia University. As well as teaching the aforementioned courses, Coleman serves as the director of Columbia’s International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution at Teachers College, and the chair of the Advanced Consortium on Cooperation, Conflict and Complexity. In addition to these posts at Columbia, Dr. Coleman serves as a research affiliate for the International Center for Complexity and Conflict at the Warsaw School for Social Psychology in Warsaw, Poland. Dr. Coleman has been the recipient of Early Career Award from the American Psychological Association and the CPR Institute for Dispute Resolution 2000 Book Prize for Excellence. Dr. Coleman is a member of Division 48: Society for the Study of Peace, Conflict and Violence. An editor of The Handbook of Conflict Resolution: Theory and Practice, Dr. Coleman has authored over 60 articles in published journals. Dr. Coleman’s particular innovation in this field has been his application of psychology to conflict resolution, as evidenced by his membership in the American Psychological Association, Psychologists for Social Responsibility, Association for Conflict Resolution and International Association of Conflict Management. Dr. Coleman’s official scholarly interests include the constructive use and abuse of social power, motivation dynamics, intractable conflict, social injustice, moral emotions, polarized collective identity formation and sustainable peace. Dr. Coleman’s application of psychological principles to the field of conflict resolution is highly innovative as he explores the motivations behind conflict.
As the Vice President for Preventive Diplomacy at the international center for Religion and Diplomacy and head of the Madras Enhancement program in Pakistan, Azhar Hussain understands the need for conflict resolution and feels as though religion is the main factor to promote resolution. Azhar grew up in Pakistan, where he witnessed firsthand the influential role of the madrasa education system on Pakistani students and society. He uses his skills and knowledge to teach the new generation that peace is obtainable, and he provides them with insights. He has also dedicated his time to providing Madras leaders in Pakistan with the proper knowledge to promote peace and resolution in their perspective communities. Azhar’s work demonstrates that the need for social change should come from efforts made within societies in order the country to become better as a whole. On behalf of ICRD, Azi has worked in partnership with local Pakistani religious and civic organizations to design a system of comprehensive training programs for Madras leaders. Since 2004, Azi has conducted numerous training workshops, bringing together Madras leaders from each of Pakistan’s five Muslim sects. While others use campaigns, and worldwide organizations for peace, what drives Azhar’s efforts to create peace is his belief that religion can be used for peace and unity rather than division and violence.
Arjuna Parakrama is the Professor and Chair of the English Department at Peradeniya University in Sri Lanka, which he joined after nearly 20 years at the metropolitan University of Colombo. Dr. Parakrama’s has many research interests, and his current research interests include issues relating to language and equity in higher education, the relationship among marginalization, conflict and human rights, patterns of dominant discourse and subaltern resistance, and collective psychosocial trauma in post conflict societies. In addition to his academic work, for which he has received a Guggenheim Grant and Senior Fellowships from the US Institute of Peace and the Carnegie Institute for Ethics and International Affairs, Arjuna counts 15 years as a community development practitioner and trainer. He has worked for UNDP as an Advisor on Peace and Development, and is currently a Consultant to the UN Officer of the High Commissioner on Human Rights, studying the relationship between poverty, conflict and human rights. Dr. Parakrama also lead a team of international experts who devised a plan for the tsunami response in four of Asias worst affected countries in 2005.
Dr. Peter Ochs
Dr. Peter Ochs is the Edgar Bronfman Professor of Modern Judaic Studies at the University of Virginia, where he also is the director of the Religious Studies Graduate Programs in “Scripture, Interpretation, and Practice” – an interdisciplinary approach to the Abrahamic traditions and more. Additionally, he is a co-founder of the (Abrahamic) Society for Scriptural Reasoning. He is an influential thinker whose interests include Jewish philosophy and theology, modern and postmodern philosophical theology, pragmatism, and semiotics. He earned his B.A. from Yale University, an M.A. from The Jewish Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D. from Yale University. He has authored, co-authored, and co-edited a number of books including Another Reformation: Postliberal Christianity and the Jews; The Jewish-Christian Schism Revisited; Peirce, Pragmatism, and the Logic of Scripture; Reviewing the Covenant: Eugene B. Borowitz and the Postmodern Renewal of Theology; Christianity in Jewish Terms; Reasoning after Revelation: Dialogues in Postmodern Jewish Philosophy; The Return to Scripture in Judaism and Christianity; and Understanding the Rabbinical Mind. With Stanley Hauerwas, he co-edited the book series, Radical Traditions: (Jewish, Christian, and Muslim) Theology in a Post-critical Key. Dr. Ochs also serves on the editorial boards of Modern Theology, Theology Today, The Journal of Scriptural Reasoning, and The Journal of Textual Reasoning, and Crosscurrents.