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.
While drawing certain initial insights from religion, the program aims to develop a sound scientific basis for knowledge and strategies that lead to the creation of a better world. 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. Central to this focus is creating a body of rigorously derived and tested knowledge that can be applied to foster the emergence of a just, secure, and sustainable international order, one that addresses the social, material, and spiritual progress of the global community.
Through an active program of research and publication, Professor Mahmoudi collaborates with a wide range of scholars, researchers, and practitioners. She recognizes the value of a broad concept of peacemaking—which she refers to as a “worldview approach”—that addresses the many underlying issues involved and employs perspectives from diverse cultures. In particular, she is committed to forging international research partnerships that significantly expand and enrich the prevailing, Western-oriented model of peace education.
A core purpose of the Bahá’í Chair’s teaching and outreach is to encourage students to cultivate critical thinking skills, which lead to understandings about the complex nature of social change in the creation of a more peaceful world. Within this broad educational objective, students develop a set of values—including the importance of service to others—that are the basis of lifelong engagement in framing public policy in areas such as the social and behavioral sciences, science and technology, and the arts and humanities. Such values can also guide students in their international and civic life.