Insights: Non-violence as an effective strategy?

This is an insight written by Esther Kaufman on the lecture given by Professor Kathleen Cunningham as part of the Bahá’í Chair for World Peace series on Leadership and Global Governance. 

Non-violence as an influential strategy?

Professor Kathleen Gallagher’s lecture on self-determination of nationalistic organizations offers insightful and relevant evidence on moving towards a peaceful society. Groups seeking self-determination have been known to have high internal fragmentation that is associated with the use of violence in pursuit of political recognition. Continue reading

Reflection: The Poorest Country in the Western Hemisphere?

Reflection: “The Poorest Country in the Western Hemisphere”

Proud Beginnings

In many ways, the new world’s first free country was not the United States, where much of the population was enslaved. The first free country was Haiti, roughly the size of Maryland and located in the Caribbean, at its peak Haiti was the most prosperous colony in the world which enabled France, and other Western nations, to acquire wealth at the expense of its own development. Continue reading

Insights: Searching for the Impossible

This is a reflection written by Esther Kaufman on the lecture given by Dr. Nicole des Bouvrie on the 30th of November 2016.  

Why We Should Search for the Impossible

What if the question, “Can Women Think?” is not an absurd question? Dr. des Bouvrie began her lecture by introducing historic western philosophers whose ideas have established the foundation of Western thinking. From ancient times, white male philosophers have built identities based on differences. Following their philosophies women cannot think, or at least, not as men do. Continue reading

Reflection: Solving Racism Through Dialogue

The Problem of Prejudice 

Once again the stubborn scourge of racial prejudice and structural racism is tearing apart the American society. For almost four-hundred years since slavery was first introduced to the American continent, the pseudo-scientific doctrine of racial superiority, and the structural arrangements that promote the systematic support of racism, continue to persist. Continue reading

Book Review: The Risks of Righteous Fury

Book Review: The Risks of Righteous Fury

This is a book review of The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt. The review was written by Vicky Yu.

Morality and common sense suffer from the same underlying assumptions; we believe that people all abide by the same principles. Experience teaches us that common sense is not universal, but accepting the same verdict on morality is more difficult. Acknowledging differences in how we determine right versus wrong fundamentally alters perceptions of who we are and our place in the world. Continue reading

Insights: The Power of Patience

This is an insight written by Esther Kaufman on the lecture given by Mrs. May Rihani as part of the Bahá’í Chair for World Peace series on Women and Peace. 

The Impact of Examples

Mrs. May Rihani’s lecture, “Sexism, Gender Roles and Their Intersection with Power”, shed light on the broad range of issues surrounding sexism and gender bias around the world. Continue reading

Insights: Racism as a Barrier to Justice

This is a reflection written by Esther Kaufman on the lecture given by Dr. Rashawn Ray as part of the Bahá’ì Chair for World Peace series on Structural Racism. 

Racism as a Barrier to Justice 

Dr. Rashawn Ray’s emotional presentation on “Why Police Compliance Does Not Save Black Lives” left me feeling a deep sense of disappointment in our society’s failure to recognize and deal with racism.  He began his lecture with the juxtaposition of videos and statistics that emphasized the differences between races in police compliance and non-compliance. Continue reading

Book Review: Little Brown Me, and Other Reflections on Identity

Are we as adults prepared to help the children we care about make sense of their own race-related observations?

This is a book review of  Why are all the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria by Beverly Daniel Tatum. The review was written by Brandie Williams. 

In this thought-provoking work, Why are all the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria, Beverly Daniel Tatum weaves together a conscious-jolting web of understanding surrounding privilege, racial identity, and how we come to understand who we are as individuals. In the very beginning of her book, she challenges us with a simple exercise: “think back to your earliest race-related memory.”

Continue reading

Interview: Dr. Rashawn Ray on Why Police Compliance Does Not Save Black Lives

Interview with Dr. Rashawn Ray, interview conducted by Brandie Reeder Williams.

Dr. Ray will be giving a lecture on the 25th of October in Hoff Theatre, Stamp Student Union, University of Maryland. To find out more and to RSVP visit the website of the Bahá’í Chair for World Peace.

Continue reading

Book Review: How to Rescue Those Who the System Fails

This is a book review of Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson. The review was written by Esther Kaufman. 

“Mercy is most empowering, liberating and transformative when it is directed at the undeserving,” writes author Bryan Stevenson in his book, Just Mercy. This is a concept that is difficult but perhaps essential to embrace as the media constantly divides people and societies into heroes and villains. I was born to immigrant parents who fled anti-Semitism and praise America as the land that gave their families mercy when no other state could. Yet, Bryan Stevenson’s portrayal of the American criminal justice system revealed injustices that disrupted all of my preconceived notions regarding America’s inherit goodness. Continue reading

Insights: Ideas of Equality in Religious Communities

This is a reflection written by Vicky Yu on the lecture by Professor Orna Blumen at the recent Learning Outside the Lines Conference.

My initial reaction to the topic of this talk, was a visceral sense of discomfort. “Orthodox” religious communities conjure up stereotypes of intense social conservatism: traditional, nuclear families, dogmatic leaders and a disdain for the evolution of an increasing secular and liberal youth. “Ultra-Orthodox” (U-O) could only be worse. Continue reading

Insights: Can We Provide a ‘Good Childhood’ to American Children?

This is a reflection written by Esther Kaufman on the lecture by Professor Cindi Katz at the recent Learning Outside the Lines Conference.

By juxtaposing childhood in Sudan and New York City, Professor Cindi Katz successfully brings to attention alarming issues impeding social childhood development in her lecture “Good Childhood, Social Childhood”. Continue reading

Insights: Prof. C. Fred Alford “Forgiveness is Not To Make Us Feel Better”

Today Professor C. Fred Alford gave a very insightful talk about his take on forgiveness in a room filled to the brim. Here are some preliminary insights taken from this lecture. Professor Alford is the author of “Trauma and Forgiveness: Consequences and Communities” (read our review here). Continue reading

Insights: Prof. Barbara Finkelstein on The Rise of Two New Age Cosmopolitans: 1979-2012

A first attempt in gleaning some of the insights shared during the afternoon talks of the conference on Children and Youth in an Interconnected World, presenting a broad range of distinguished speakers, all talking about the role of children and youth in this fast-changing world.

The Rise of Two New Age Cosmopolitans: 1979-2012

Emerita Professor Barbara Finkelstein gives an inspiration talk about the changes we are facing today. She asks herself why we are teaching children this cliche-lesson “Stranger Danger” – so that we learn to fear everyone that looks different? It is complicated. How can we conceive of a diverse world if we take this ‘stranger-danger’ as the basic premise? So, she says, she is not going to take this as a starting point to look at children in a changing interconnected world. Continue reading

Insights: Prof. Cindi Katz on “Good Childhood, Social Childhood”

A gleaning of some of the insights shared during the conference on Children and Youth in an Interconnected World, full of presentations from a broad range of distinguished speakers, all talking about the role of children and youth in this fast-changing world.

Follow the latest news on the conference through #LOTLUMD at Twitter!

Good Childhood, Social Childhood

Professor Cindi Katz, City University of New York, starts her lecture by asking the question what do we mean by ‘good’? Asking this and without wanting to getting a banal answer, it turns out to be a difficult question, a more difficult question than asking what is ‘bad’. The messy spaces of civil society form the geographies of social reproduction, shaped by political economic processes and by struggles to survive and resist those processes. Without social justice, there is not going to be healthy social reproduction and security. Continue reading

Insights: Dr Michael Robb on Technology Addiction

A gleaning of some of the insights shared during the conference on Children and Youth in an Interconnected World, full of presentations from a broad range of distinguished speakers, all talking about the role of children and youth in this fast-changing world.

Follow the latest news on the conference through #LOTLUMD at Twitter!

Technology Addiction: Cause For Concern of Media Hype?

Dr. Michael Robb discusses how the concept of ‘technology addiction’ comes with a lot of prejudices. Families, educators and policy makers rely on ratings that reflect research on appropriate use of technology and media based on age, but there are many controversial ideas floating around on our complicated relationship with technology. Is it the mere hours spent with technology? Or is this addiction-panic a moral phenomenon? If you look closer, technology is mostly used to access more traditional media like music and television. Continue reading

Insights: Prof. Peter N. Stearns Modern Patterns and its influence on Childhood

A gleaning of some of the insights shared during the talks during the conference on Children and Youth in an Interconnected World, presenting a broad range of distinguished speakers, all talking about the role of children and youth in this fast-changing world.

Follow the latest news on the conference through #LOTLUMD at Twitter!

Modern Childhoods: Adjustment, Variety, and Stress

Professor Peter N. Stearns from George Msaon University talks about the modern patterns that influence the experience and role of children in society. According to him, the four basic modern changes are the following: first the transition from children as a source of labor towards children as students, with the primary obligation to learn. Secondly, the reduced birth rates. Thirdly, the reduction in children’s death rates. And the fourth change, although all these shifts are interconnected, government interest in children, whereas before responsibility for children was left to parents and educators. Continue reading

Insights: Prof. Fruma Zachs on The Private World of Women and Children

A first attempt in gleaning some of the insights shared during the talks during the afternoon of the conference on Children and Youth in an Interconnected World, presenting a broad range of distinguished speakers, all talking about the role of children and youth in this fast-changing world.

Follow the latest news on the conference through #LOTLUMD at Twitter!

The Private World of Women and Children: Lullabies and Nursery Rhymes in 19th Century Greater Syria – Professor Fruma Zachs

Professor F. Zachs from the University of Haifa, Israel, talks about the research on the private world of women through preserved narratives of nursery rhymes. In the last twenty years  children have finally begun to be  researched as a topic of themselves, not just from the perspective of adult worlds and family. Nursery rhymes as oral folklore emphasizes certain themes, like suffering and the child’s world, but in the Arabic world this is not yet studied extensively. In her work, Professor Zachs analyses these nursery rhymes to show new insight into the emotional and interconnected world of children and their families. Continue reading

Insights: Conference on Children and Youth Day One

A first attempt at gleaning some of the insights shared this first morning of the conference on Children and Youth in an Interconnected World, full of presentations from a broad range of distinguished speakers, all talking about the role of children and youth in this fast-changing world.

Follow the latest news on the conference through #LOTLUMD on Twitter!

Globalization 2.0: Children and Youth in an Interconnected World.

Professor Marcelo Suarez-Orozco from the University of California, Los Angeles, brought up many interesting statistics as how migration is the human face of globalization as we know it now. Many cities are moving towards superdiversity hubs, where immigrants become the majority. In many places two-thirds of the children in the classroom are from immigrant backgrounds. It is the value of family that drives migration. But how might one use this challenge as an opportunity? Education is the key, making use of the multilinguistic capacities and the often missed ability of this diverse group of children to learn and reflect on their learning. Continue reading

Book Review: Unforgiveness is an Option?

Book Review of “Trauma and Forgiveness: Consequences and Communities” by C. Fred Alford. The review was written by Brandie Reeder Williams.

Having grown up in what is affectionately known as the “bible belt” of rural North Carolina, the virtue of “forgiveness,” was always a taken-for-granted concept, one cloaked in the easy black-and-white morality of “right and wrong.” My orientation to, and understanding of forgiveness, was espoused through both myth (“forgive others or God will not forgive you in heaven,”) but also through folklore and narrative; through cautionary tales told about people who just “couldn’t forgive…got sick, and died.” Forgiveness then, was in every situation both a moral obligation and beneficial to one’s own “healing,” physically and emotionally. Continue reading

Values and Moral Principles – Our Road to Peace

Rather than make assumptions about other people that are not based on facts, try to get out of your comfort zone and try to talk to people you would not normally talk to. ~ Professor Hoda Mahmoudi.

Professor Hoda Mahmoudi discusses the Baha’i Chair’s views on peace in this video by the College of Behavioral & Social Sciences, University of Maryland.

Reflection: International Day for Peace 2016

When you ask most people about world peace, they tell you that peace is among the most important matters on their mind and that we should all be concerned about it. But longing for peace is only the first step on the path toward making the world a better place for all people.

If we really wish to work toward achieving world peace we will first have to start with expanding our worldview about what peace requires from individuals, communities, and leaders of nations.

If we really desire a better more peaceful world, then we can start by accepting the fact that there are many barriers to peace. Through our actions every person has the power remove the road blocks to peace. Continue reading

Book Review: Ethics by Baruch Spinoza

Sometimes you finally get to read that book that makes things fall into place. No matter how much modern philosophy you read, without tracing those thoughts back to their place of origin, you will miss a lot. And who would have thought that this little book by Spinoza (1632-1677), who was ostracized for thinking outside of the limits the religious community he grew up in had put on him, would be such an eye-opener? Nowadays Spinoza’s work is an inspiration not only for philosophers, but also across different religious communities. In 1929 Einstein wrote “I believe in Spinoza’s God.” [Source] So why is Spinoza’s legacy still such an inspiration today? Continue reading

About ‘In-Depth’

“The faculty to think objectively is reason; the emotional attitude behind reason is that of humility. To be objective, to use one’s reason, is possible only if one has achieved an attitude of humility, if one has emerged from the dreams of omniscience and omnipotence which one has as a child. Love, being dependent on the relative absence of narcissism, requires the development of humility, objectivity and reason.” – Erich Fromm, The Art of Loving

The Bahá’í Chair for World Peace at the University of Maryland is an endowed academic program that advances interdisciplinary examination and discourse on global peace. Viewing humanity as a collective and organic whole, the Chair’s incumbent, Professor Hoda Mahmoudi, explores the role that social actors and structures play in removing obstacles and creating paths to peace. The Chair’s explanation focuses on a number of thematic issues including, structural racism, climate change, human nature, women’s inequality, and leadership and global governance. Continue reading

About ‘Book reviews’

“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.” ~ Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood

The book reviews on the blog will feature important books related to the Chair’s research themes, both academic and non-academic texts. The reviews will focus on what the reader found inspiring, what questions the book raised and how it has influenced their approach. Continue reading

About ‘Reflections’

“Learning without reflection is a waste. Reflection without learning is dangerous.” ~ Confucius

The reflections on the blog will be in a number of formats. Reflections by Professor Mahmoudi will include the Chair’s thoughts and approaches to current events. Students will write reflective pieces on events they have attended, those organized by the Chair and other events across campus. Every event arranged by the Chair will be reflected upon in the blog, these reflections will highlight what the author found interesting and any questions the event made them think about. We will also feature reflections by guest authors related to the research themes of the Chair. Continue reading

About ‘Interviews’

“Everybody talks, nobody listens. Good listeners are as rare as white crows.” ~ Helen Keller, “The Beauty of Silence,” in The Home Magazine (1935)

As part of the conversations series the blog will also feature interviews with upcoming guest speakers and other notable figures. These interviews will be carried out by students who will select the interviewee, do the background research and then conduct the interview. Continue reading

About ‘Conversations’

“If one talks to more than four people, it is an audience; and one cannot really think or exchange thoughts with an audience.” ~ Anne Morrow Lindbergh, North to the Orient (1935)

The conversations series will feature audio recordings of discussions between the Chair and a small group of students. These conversations will focus on topics of importance and relevance and are designed to spark new ideas and approaches to challenges to world peace. Continue reading