Endowment to ensure continued mission of Bahá'í Chair

Speaking on “Iranian Women Writers: A Moderating and Modernizing Force” in the Baháí Chair for World Peace series on empowerment of women and peace is Farzaneh Milani of the University of Virginia. Copyright John T. Consoli/University of Maryland

As the Bahá’í Chair for World Peace at the University of Maryland expands efforts to fulfill its mission, a new endowment fund will help ensure that the program’s operational expenses are met now and into the future.

Contributions toward the Bahá’í Chair Endowment Fund will build up the principal of the endowment, which will be prudently managed under the auspices of the National Spiritual Assembly.

The goal is that in due time only the interest will be needed to assist with the operational expenses of the Chair. In the meantime, however, the National Spiritual Assembly may need to use a portion of the endowment contributions to cover the Chair’s operational needs until the endowment is fully funded.

Contributions can be made through the envelope included in your magazine or through your computer at www.bahai.us/fund and scrolling down to the “Contribute” button, following the prompts and selecting “Bahá’í Chair—University of Maryland” from the drop-down options.

The Bahá’í Chair for World Peace was established to explore in an academic setting the multifaceted approach to peace delineated in “The Promise of World Peace,” a statement written by the Universal House of Justice that offers not only an in-depth examination of the structural challenges the global community faces but also a prescriptive analysis of the spiritual and social forces that propel nations toward the formation of world peace.

Over the past 20 years, the Bahá’í Chair has developed into a recognized and unique endowed academic program respected for its rigorous commitment to advancing the interdisciplinary examination and discourse on global peace.

In a Feb. 12, 1990, letter to the Bahá’ís of the world, the Universal House of Justice emphasized the significance of the Chair’s role:

“Fully cognizant of Bahá’u’lláh’s praise of knowledge as ‘wings to man’s life’ and of the importance which He assigns to its acquisition; of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s advice that we should ‘seek to impart the Message to influential persons and become a cause of guidance to the learned and distinguished’; and of Shoghi Effendi’s call for a ‘resolute attempt’ to reinforce measures ‘for the establishment of closer contact with the leaders of public thought, with colleges and universities,’ we hail this seminal development both as a mark of the Faith’s emergence from obscurity and as the harbinger of that day when hosts of scholars will devote their energies to the exploration, exposition and defense of the dynamic principles animating the World Order of Bahá’u’lláh, thereby fulfilling the need identified by the beloved Guardian for ‘well-read and well-educated people, capable of correlating our teachings to the current thoughts of the leaders of society.’ On that day, we shall witness an expansion and consolidation of the community as has not yet been experienced.

“May the Blessed Beauty enable the new Bahá’í Chair for World Peace to achieve its laudable purpose; may He shower upon all who support it His abundant confirmations.”

The Bahá’í Chair continues to work to “achieve its laudable purpose” by also serving as a platform through which international thought leaders may convene to research, discuss and address solutions to ever-changing barriers to peace.

As part of its threefold objective of research, education and publication, the Bahá’í Chair collaborates with academics and practitioners to provide inspiration and direction to students, faculty and leaders seeking solutions to the world’s great challenges.

This collaboration takes the forms of delivering lecture presentations, participating in symposia and conferences, offering courses, and serving as resident visiting scholars that explore such themes as racism and the root causes of prejudice, gender equity, inequality, climate change, food and water security, and globalization and governance. These events draw extensive audiences and serve as a focal point for international dialogue.

To fulfill its mission, the Bahá’í Chair, like other academic chairs, relies upon its endowment as its main source of income. These funds provide the year-to-year resources for the operation of its programs and provide the means by which these prestigious programs successfully implement and achieve their academic goals.

The Bahá’í Chair is currently expanding its reach and momentum of academic offerings through the development of a variety of promising and impactful programs and activities that will duly depend upon the substantial increase in its endowment size.

These programs and activities include:

  • Holding three major conferences on the topics of “Global Transformations: Context and Analytics for a Durable Peace,” “Children and Childhood in a Global Perspective” and “Peace in the Pacific.”
  • Offering eight to 10 lectures and symposia every academic year on the University of Maryland campus on topics including structural racism and the root causes of prejudice, frontiers of globalization and governance, empowerment of women and peace, solidarity across differences and overcoming challenges in globalization of the environment.
  • Holding symposia on “Structural Racism and the Root Causes of Prejudice” in collaboration with College of Charleston and the Avery Research Center in Charleston, South Carolina.
  • Teaching an honors course titled “The Problem of Prejudice: Overcoming Impediments to Global Peace and Justice.”
  • Sponsoring visiting research scholars who offer diverse cultural perspectives on peacemaking and expand and enrich the prevailing Western-oriented model of peace education.
  • Providing internships to undergraduate and graduate students who are interested in learning more about the program in relation to the panoramic vision of world peace.
  • Publishing lecture presentations by invited scholars in relevant journals or through academic presses.

Further information is on Bahá’í Chair’s website (www.bahaichair.umd.edu). Its progress may be followed on Twitter (twitter.com/@BahaiChair) and Instagram (instagram.com/bahaichair).

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