Hosting the Symposium
Dr. Mahan Mirza is a Teaching Professor in the Keough School of Global Affairs and Executive Director of the Ansari Institute for Global Engagement with Religion at the University of Notre Dame. An Islamic studies scholar, Dr. Mirza previously served as lead faculty member for the Madrasa Discourses, a project to advance scientific and theological literacy at the Keough School's Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies. He also served as Dean of Faculty at Zaytuna College in Berkeley, California, America’s first accredited Muslim liberal arts college. Mirza holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering from University of Texas Austin, an MA from Hartford Seminary in Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations, and a PhD in Religious Studies from Yale University. He has taught a range of courses in Arabic-Islamic studies, western religions, history of science, and global affairs, along with foundational subjects in the liberal arts including logic, rhetoric, ethics, and politics. His doctoral research was on the intellectual world of al-Biruni, an 11th-century scientist from Central Asia. Dr. Mirza has edited two special issues of The Muslim World and served as assistant editor of The Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought. His recent articles include “Deed over idea: Toward a shared Caliphate” in The Routledge Handbook for Religious Literacy, Pluralism, and Global Engagement (2022) and “Between Tyranny and Anarchy: Islam, Covid 19, and Public Policy,” in Religions (2023).
Margaret Gower is a scholar of religion who serves as assistant professor of religious studies and theology at Saint Mary’s College. She received her PhD in the Study of Religion at Harvard University. She earned an AB at Mount Holyoke College and an MTS at Harvard Divinity School. Her areas of expertise include Christian theology and spirituality, Medieval Christianity, women, sex, and gender in the Christian tradition, the common good, and interreligious friendship.
Charles W. Powell, a practical theologian, earned his Ecumenical Doctor of Ministry degree at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. He specializes in interreligious dialogue between Christians and Muslims and multifaith engagement. Powell travels extensively throughout the Levant and Gulf States and Europe engaging in conversations with Muslim scholars and practitioners of Islam in order to have a deeper understanding and appreciation of the Islamic milieu. He is a Visiting Academic Fellow at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, University of Oxford, UK. Additionally, Powell serves as an adjunct professor of Muslim-Christian relations at Holy Cross College.
Prior to joining the Notre Dame community, Powell pastored churches in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi for nearly two decades. In his early years of ministry, he was a radio announcer and preacher for Southern Gospel radio out of Dothan, Alabama. He is an experienced speaker, administrator, and church planter. Powell holds a Bachelor of Arts in Theology from the Florida Baptist Theological College in Graceville, Florida and a Master of Divinity degree from Luther Rice Seminary in Lithonia, Georgia. He completed most of his master's degree at the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, prior to relocating to Georgia to plant a new church.
His forthcoming book, Southern Baptists and Muslims: A Path to Dialogue through Narrative Empathy, tackles the issues of religious literacy and narrative empathy for Islam and Muslims that are often lacking in the Southern Baptist denomination.
Anantanad Rambachan is Professor of Religion at Saint Olaf College, Minnesota. He was also Visiting Professor at the Academy for the Study of World Religions at the University of Hamburg in Germany (2013-2017). His books include: Accomplishing the Accomplished: The Vedas as a Source of Valid Knowledge in Shankara, The Limits of Scripture: Vivekananda's Reinterpretation of the Authority of the Vedas, The Advaita Worldview: God, World and Humanity, A Hindu Theology of Liberation and Essays in Hindu Theology. His scholarly interests include: the Advaita (Non-dual) Vedanta tradition, Hindu ethics, liberation theology, and interreligous dialogue. The British Broadcasting Corporation transmitted a series of 25 lectures on Hinduism by Prof. Rambachan around the world.
Prof. Rambachan has been involved in interreligious relations and dialogue for over 25 years, as a Hindu contributor and analyst. He is active in the dialogue programs of the World Council of Churches, and was a Hindu guest and presenter in four General Assemblies of the World Council of Churches. He is also involved in the consultations of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue at the Vatican and currently participates as a Hindu theologian in the Ethics in Action dialogues at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. He also serves as the President of the Board, Arigatou International NY, a global organization advocating for the rights of children and mobilizing the resources of religions to overcome violence against children. He is a member of the Arigatou International Advisory Group. He was recently elected as Co-President of Religions for Peace, the largest global interfaith network.
Prof. Rambachan resides in Apple Valley, Minnesota, USA with his wife Geeta. They are the parents of Ishanaa, Aksharananda and Asheshananda.
Robert Stockman has had a passion for researching and teaching about the Bahá’í faith for more than half of his life. His fascination with American Bahá’í history and with the first American Bahá’í, Thornton Chase, led him, in 1980, to switch his academic field from planetary science to history of religion in the United States. As he was finishing his doctorate in that field at Harvard University in 1990, he drew up plans to create a Bahá’í Studies institute that would offer courses, encourage research, and publish.
Instead, Stockman was hired by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States to start a research office at the national Bahá’í headquarters in Wilmette, Illinois. Some of the responsibilities of the research office led to the creation of the Wilmette Institute, which focuses on most of the tasks of the institute he had originally conceived. Stockman has remained involved in academia, teaching religious studies part-time at DePaul University in Chicago and at Indiana University South Bend. He has also published four books on aspects of Bahá’í history (including a biography of Thornton Chase) and one introductory textbook on the faith.
Anthony Annett is a Visiting Scholar at the Center for Sustainable Development, Columbia University. His work centers on the intersection of ethics, economics, Catholic social teaching, and sustainable development. He is the author of Cathonomics: How Catholic Tradition Can Create a More Just Economy (Georgetown University Press, 2022). He also co-edited, with Jeffrey Sachs and others, a book entitled Ethics in Action for Sustainable Development (Columbia University Press, 2022). He spent over two decades at the International Monetary Fund, including as speechwriter to two Managing Directors. He holds a Ph.D. in economics from Columbia University, plus a B.A. (first class degree and gold medal) and an M.Litt. from Trinity College Dublin. He is also a Fellow of the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology.
Joy Brennan is an associate professor of Buddhist studies at Kenyon College as well as a Soto Zen priest and leader of a Zen sangha (community) in Mount Vernon, Ohio. Her writing focuses on Buddhist philosophical accounts of how our subjectivities shape and distort our perception of ourselves, each other and our worlds, and how to overcome these distortions to bring about freedom and happiness for all beings. She received her PhD in Buddhist philosophy in 2015 from the University of Chicago Divinity School.
Dr. Samuel Hayim Brody is Associate Professor in the department of Religious Studies at the University of Kansas. His research and teaching focus on modern Jewish thought and its intersections with political and economic thought. He is the author of Martin Buber's Theopolitics (IUP, 2018), which received the Jordan Schnitzer Book Award from the Association of Jewish Studies, and was a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award. He is the co-editor, with Julie E. Cooper, of The King is in the Field: Essays in Modern Jewish Politics (Penn Press, 2023). He is also editor or co-editor of two volumes in the Martin Buber Werkausgabe, the collected edition of Buber's German works.
Dr. Waleed El-Ansary is the Helal, Hisham and Laila Edris El-Swedey University Chair in Islamic Studies at Xavier University, where he teaches courses on comparative religion, Islamic economics, Islamic studies, and religion and science. He holds a Ph.D. in Islamic and Religious Studies from George Washington University and M.A. in Economics from the University of Maryland. His research focuses on the intersection of religion, science, and economics. He has authored numerous publications, including “Islamic Environmental Economics and the Three Dimensions of Islam” in his co-edited volume Muslim and Christian Understanding: Theory and Application of A Common Word. Other recently published articles include his “Can Our Science and Economics Honor Nature?” in the inaugural issue of Renovatio and “Hindu and Islamic Economics: On the Need for a New Economic Paradigm” in a special issue of The Muslim World devoted to Hindu-Muslim relations. His most recent book with Alexis Blum, Grand Rabbi Emeritus of Neuilly, and Bishop Claude Dagens, Bishop of Angouleme, is Knowing the Religion of the Other, which was arranged through the UNESCO-based Aladdin project to help train young rabbis, priests/preachers, and imams (as well as any other interested parties) about the Abrahamic traditions for greater mutual understanding and peace. The French edition has been published, the English edition is forthcoming shortly, Hebrew and Arabic translations are underway, and the Vatican is translating the book into Italian.
Thomas Legrand is a wisdom’s seeker, a social scientist and a sustainability practitioner. Holding a Ph.D. in Economics, he works on forest conservation, climate change, sustainable finance, and leadership with UN organizations, NGOs and companies. He is currently the Lead Technical Advisor for the UNDP-convened Conscious Food Systems Alliance. He is the author of the internationally acclaimed book Politics of Being. Wisdom and Science for a New Development Paradigm (2022), an invitation to radically rethink our model of development. His spiritual journey began at the age of 23 with an encounter with native spirituality in Mexico, and He now lives with his wife and their two young daughters near Plum Village, the monastery of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh in the South West of France, his country.
Augusto Lopez Claros is Executive Director and Chair of the Global Governance Forum. He is an international economist with over 30 years of experience in international organizations, including most recently at the World Bank. For the 2018-2019 academic years Augusto Lopez Claros was on leave from the World Bank as a Senior Fellow at the Edmund Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. Between 2011 and 2017 he was the director of the World Bank’s Global Indicators Group, one of the departments within the Bank’s research Vice Presidency. Previously he was chief economist and director of the Global Competitiveness Program at the World Economic Forum in Geneva, where he was also the editor of the Global Competitiveness Report, the Forum’s flagship publication. Before joining the Forum he worked for several years in the financial sector in London, with a special focus on emerging markets. He was the IMF’s Resident Representative in Russia during the 1990s. Educated in England and the United States, he received a diploma in Mathematical Statistics from Cambridge University and a PhD in Economics from Duke University. Recent publications include Equality for Women = Prosperity for All (2018, St. Martin’s Press, with B. Nakhjavani). A list of recent lectures can be found at: www.augustolopezclaros.com. In May of 2018 Sweden’s Global Challenges Foundation awarded Lopez-Claros the New Shape Prize for his work (with Arthur Dahl and Maja Groff) Global Governance and the Emergence of Global Institutions for the 21st Century published as a book in 2020 by Cambridge University Press. His book Global Governance and International Cooperation: Managing Global Catastrophic Risks in the 21st Century, co-edited with Richard Falk, was published by Routledge on February 5 of 2024.
Steven McMullen is a professor of economics at Hope College, executive editor of the journal Faith & Economics, fellow at the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics, and associate fellow at the Kirby Liang Centre for Public Theology. He is the author or co-author of three books: Animals and the Economy (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016), Digital Life Together: The Challenge of Technology for Christian Schools (Eerdmans, 2020), and Should Wealth be Redistributed? A Debate (Routledge, 2023). He has published book chapters and journal articles about education policy, animal ethics, environmental ethics, economic justice, and Christian theology.
Rahul Oka is an economic anthropologist and his research interests include the anthropology of urbanism, social network analysis, the development of complex socio-economic systems, the evolution of inequality and conflict, and the relationship between climate, conflict, and migration. He focuses on the impact of trade, commerce, and traders on social, political, and cultural infrastructures.
Oka’s current research focuses on trading systems and networks in the disaster economies of western and northern Kenya and southern Sudan and their relationship to development; refugee-host interactions in northern Kenya; trade, urbanism, and politics, focusing on the institutionalization of poverty and inequality in South Asia and East Africa (past and present); violence and scapegoating of merchant and other transient groups; relationships between commercial groups and political regulatory institutions; and adaptive resilience and transformation in business networks and other socioeconomic systems, and on current refugee and migrant flows from Asia and Africa into Europe. He has worked with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, The World Bank, the United States Agency for International Development, the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration of the US State Department, and the Commissariat for Refugees and Migration for the Serbian Government on various relief projects.
Oka is co-author of the World Bank and UNHCR published [Refugee Impacts on Turkana Hosts]. He has edited two special issues of [Economic Anthropology] on the social economies of Greed (2014) and Convenience (2021). He is the author of several book chapters, and his work has also appeared in prestigious peer-reviewed journals including [Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences], [Social Science and Medicine], [Hormones and Behavior], [Economic Anthropology], [American Anthropologist], [Urban Anthropology and Studies of Cultural Systems and World Economic Development], [American Journal of Human Biology], [Journal of Archaeological Research], and [Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory].
Oka holds a BA [cum laude] from Lawrence University, Appleton WI, and a PhD from the University of Illinois Chicago and the Field Museum.
Nirvikar Singh is Distinguished Professor of Economics at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where he held the Sarbjit Singh Aurora Chair in Sikh and Punjabi Studies from 2010 to 2020. His research and published articles in Sikh and Punjabi Studies have included work on analyzing the core doctrines of Sikhism in historical context, Sikh ethics, Sikh literature as an agent of social change in the early 20th century, Guru Nanak and Sikh identity, portraits of the Sikh gurus, Sikhs in California, challenges of translating the Guru Granth Sahib, Sikh attitudes toward daily economic life and economic systems, the Punjab economy, healthcare in Punjab, the impact of Covid on Punjab, and comparison of past conflicts in Punjab and Kashmir.
Kate Ward is associate professor of theological ethics at Marquette University and a theological ethicist working in areas including economic ethics, virtue ethics, fundamental moral theology and Catholic social thought. She is the author of Wealth, Virtue and Moral Luck: Christian Ethics in an Age of Inequality (Georgetown, 2021) and has published articles in journals including Theological Studies, Journal of Religious Ethics, Heythrop Journal, Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics, and American Journal of Economics and Sociology. She serves on the editorial boards of Journal of Moral Theology, Journal of Catholic Social Thought and Asian Horizons. She is completing a book on work in Catholic social thought. Dr. Ward graduated from Harvard College, where she studied psychology, in 2005, and earned her M.Div with concentration in Bible from Catholic Theological Union and her Ph.D. in theological ethics from Boston College. Before beginning her Ph.D. studies, she worked at AFSCME Council 31, a labor union organizing workers in Catholic health care settings.
Dr. Stephanie M. Wong is an Assistant Professor at Villanova University where she teaches courses in Christian theology and East Asian religions. In her research, she focuses on Chinese Catholicism in dialogue with Confucian, Mohist and Buddhist thought and practice. She is committed to understanding and appreciating the distinct intellectual histories and spiritual insights of these various traditions, while investigating how they operate culturally and politically in Chinese society and transnationally around the world today. At the moment, Dr. Wong is finishing final revisions on a book National Witness: Chinese Catholicism after the Age of Empires and working on an article-length Christian-Confucian comparative study of the concept of tianxia ('all under Heaven"). Prior to all this, she earned her Ph.D at Georgetown University and her M.Div. at Yale Divinity School.