Peacemaker, Healer, Scholar
Najeeba Syeed is Associate Professor of Interreligious Education at Claremont School of Theology and director of the Center for Global Peacebuilding. She is recognized as a leader in peacebuilding and social justice based research and twice received the Jon Anson Ford Award for reducing violence in schools and in the area of interracial gang conflicts and was named Southern California Mediation Association’s “Peacemaker of the Year” in 2007. She has chaired national conferences on Muslim and Interfaith Peacebuilding, served as a mediator in many cases, started restorative justice mediation programs in many institutions including University of Southern California and several middle and high schools. Schools have reported a drop in disciplinary referrals and violence. Her track record as a peacemaker and critical peace researcher has made her a sought out advisor and she has served as an on the ground peace interventionist in conflicts around the globe. Syeed’s peace and justice work has been the subject of news reports and documentaries as well such as this film which aired on NBC “Waging Peace: Muslim and Christian Alternatives.”
She was formerly the executive director of the Western Justice Center Foundation founded by Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Dorothy Nelson and previous to that appointment was the executive director of the Asian Pacific American Dispute Resolution Center. Under her directorship the organizations grew significantly in the areas of school based interracial conflict resolution, anti-bullying initiatives, environmental mediation, restorative justice, cross cultural conflict resolution training, gang intervention programs, community engaged design for youth violence prevention and served a range of clients including the Coca-Cola company, UCLA, USC, Arts Center College for design, LAUSD and the Department of Justice.
Her research articles have focused on: 1) Faith based community based conflict resolution 2) Restorative and Healing Justice 3) Interfaith just peacemaking and social justice hermeneutics for interfaith learning 4) Intersectional analysis of state violence and structural racism. Currently she is co-editing a book with Heidi Hadsell on “Critical Approaches to Interreligious Education,” a project supported by the Henry Luce Foundation. The title of her own forthcoming book is “Politics of Interreligious Education.” Along with colleagues she has developed training modules in Islamic conflict resolution and mediation presented at Harvard Law School.
As a scholar she co-designed a doctoral program in Interreligious Education and is directing dissertations on topics including resilience in interreligious learning, decolonial models for interreligious programs, Christian-Buddhist peacemaking in Southeast Asia, Black Muslim community practical theologies of community development, interfaith activism models on mass incarceration. She has designed and taught a dozen graduate courses in interreligious education such as: Comparative Theologies and Pedagogies of Restorative Justice. Islam, Women and Social Movements. Urban Education. Peace Education. Interfaith Leadership and Dialogue. Pedagogies of Interreligious Education. Indigenous/Hybrid Religious Communities’ Activism. African American Islams. Transformational Muslim Leadership Models, Managing and Developing the Interreligious Non Profit. Negotiation and Mediation. She was awarded the Fisher Faculty Teaching Award in 2014 for her excellence in teaching. She has worked with other universities to develop interfaith education models. For example, she co-designed and co-taught the first interreligious education course offered by Chicago Theological Seminary with Susan Thistlethwaite and Rachel Mikva.
She has facilitated conflict resolution processes for conflicts in many school, community and environmental and public controversies. Prof. Syeed has also provided training on theologies of peacemaking and non violent protest to dozens of organizations and faith based groups. She was instrumental in developing a Master’s degree program in Interreligious Studies and Religious Leadership in Muslim Contexts. She serves as the co-chair of the American Academy of Religion’s Religion and Politics Section and is a member of the Academy’s Religion, Social Conflict and Peace Section. She is a past board member of the National Association for Community Mediation, National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation and serves on the Higher Education Advisory Council for Interfaith Youth Corps, and Advisory Council for Peace and Conflict Resolution at the Tanenbaum Center and past chair of the Pasadena Commission on the Status of Women. She served on the Teaching Team for the Luce American Academy of Religion Summer Seminar on Religious Pluralism and Comparative Theologies.
She is a regular blogger for Muslim Voices, Feminist. Com, Huffington Post and has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, on NPR, PBS, on the Tavis Smiley show and has been quoted by print and news media around the globe. Her speaking schedule has included keynotes and named lectures around the country at major universities including Duke University, La Sierra University, Seattle University, University of Southern California, Harvard University, Boston Theological Seminary, University of Toledo, Eastern Mennonite University and her alma mater, Guilford College.
She is a 1995 graduate of Guilford College where she received the Oexmann Fellowship for community based mediation and was awarded the 2012 Young Alumni Achievement Award. She is a 2000 graduate of Indiana University Maurer School of Law where she was a teaching fellow in the area of mediation and ran the university’s mediation program. She also has appointments as extended faculty at Claremont Graduate School of Religion.
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