Panel and Discussion: Challenges of Diversity and Inclusion

Thursday, September 22nd from 10:30 am-noon
Sperry Room, Andover Hall, Harvard Divinity School, 42 Francis Ave.

Moderator: Diana Eck, Harvard Professor of Comparative Religion and Indian Studies, Frederic Wertham Professor of Law and Psychiatry in Society, and Pluralism Project Director

Zaheer Ali: Named one of Brooklyn Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in Brooklyn Culture” in 2016, Zaheer Ali is the Oral Historian at Brooklyn Historical Society, a nationally recognized urban history center founded in 1863. As Brooklyn Historical Society’s Oral Historian, he records, collects, archives, and curates the lived histories, testimonies, memoirs, and narrations of Brooklynites from all walks of life. In this capacity, he directs Voices of Generations: Investigating Brooklyn’s Cultural Identity, a project to digitize, process, catalog, and make accessible online nearly 500 interviews that are part of ten oral history collections; and he manages Voices of Crown Heights, a new multi-year oral history project on the history and future of the Brooklyn neighborhood of Crown Heights. Previously, he served under the direction of the late Manning Marable, as project manager and senior researcher of the Malcolm XMalcolm Little (1925-1965) is one of the most well-known African Americans who embraced Islam. He took the name Malcolm X upon joining the Nation of Islam while in prison. He spoke forcefully for black separatism in the face of white predjudice and violen... Project (MXP) at Columbia University–a multi-year research initiative on the life and legacy of Malcolm X. Ali has taught college-level courses on IslamIslam in Arabic literally means “submitting” or “submission.” One who submits or surrenders his or her will to God is called a Muslim. While the whole of God’s creation is described as being inherently Muslim, human beings must choose whether to... in Black America, Malcolm X, and African American studies; and he is currently an adjunct lecturer at New York University’s School of Professional Studies, where he teaches American history.

Chloe Breyer: Since 2007, the Rev. Chloe Breyer has directed The Interfaith Center of New York, a nationally-recognized nonprofit that works with grassroots religious leaders to catalyze partnerships with civic officials to resolve social problems in New York City. Issues of concern include police reform, immigration concerns, and religious freedom and discrimination. Institutional partners have included the New York Unified Court System,Catholic Charities, UJA Federation, & the National Endowment for the Humanities. Programs include Re-entry CirclesIn some Pagan traditions, a “circle” refers to the people who gather for a ritual. When standing in a circle, all the participants are able to see each other, with no one member elevated over any other. This practice is often felt to encourage egalita... of Support (2011–), Catholic Muslim Service Partnerships (2010–), and the RabbiRabbi means “my master,” an authorized teacher or master of the Torah and the classical Jewish tradition. After the fall of the second Temple in 70 CE and the scattering of the Jewish people in exile, the role of the rabbi became very important in gat... Marshall Meyer Social Justice Retreats (1998–). An Episcopal Priest in the Diocese of New York, Breyer also serves as Associate priest at St. Philip’s Church in Harlem. She is an author and op ed contributor. Her Ph. D. work is in Christian Ethics.

Nancy Khalil: Nancy A. Khalil is a Ph.D. candidate in Anthropology at Harvard University and a Graduate Student Associate in the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs. She is currently writing her dissertation on the politics of American Islam with an emphasis on the profession of the ImamImam means “leader,” particularly the person who leads the daily ritual prayer or, more broadly, to the one who serves as a leader of the community because of his religious learning. In Shi’i Islam, it refers to one of a succession of direct descend... in America. Her doctoral work has been supported by the Social Science Research Council, National Science Foundation, Bucerius Zeit-Stiftung, Islamic Scholarship Fund, Muslim Students AssociationIn 1963, the Muslim Students Association (MSA) was organized to promote religious unity, through education and mutual aid, among Muslim international students at North American colleges. The MSA laid the groundwork for numerous national organizations, inc... National, and Harvard’s Anthropology Department, Weatherhead Center, and Center for American Political Studies. Other research projects she has worked on include research on migrant and second generation political and civic engagement, Muslim students on U.S. college campuses, a transatlantic project on the impact of securitzation on migrant populations, as well as the Muslims in Boston Survey. Prior to her doctoral studies, she worked as Muslim ChaplainA chaplain is a member of the clergy who serves in a prison, a hospital, a college, or some other institution outside the context of the normal congregational life of a religious community. at Wellesley College and Advisor to their Multi-faith Living and Learning Community. Most recently, Nancy assisted in co-founding and is currently serving as a board member of the Boston-based Muslim Justice League.

Dr. Harpreet SinghUpon initiation into the Khalsa, Sikh men assume the name Singh, “Lion.”Dr. Singh is a scholar of South Asian traditions and languages. His teaching responsibilities at Harvard have ranged from introductory courses on South Asian religions to advanced courses on religious nationalism and literary cultures. He co-founded the Sikh Coalition—the largest Sikh civil rights organization in North America—in the wake of hate crimes against Sikh-Americans after the September 11, 2001 attacks.  He received a PhD degree in South Asian Religions from Harvard’s Committee on the Study of Religion and a MTS degree from Harvard Divinity School.  Singh currently serve on the Board of Religious, Spiritual, and Ethical Life at Harvard; on the Board of Trustees at the Sikh Coalition and Sikh Scholarship Foundation; and on the Advisory Boards of Institute for Asian American Studies and the Sikh Research Institute. As a member of the Harvard Chaplains, his role is to foster Sikh intellectual life and provide a voice to Sikh community within academia.

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