The Center for Multi-Religious Studies’ inaugural panel discussion took place via Zoom on Thursday, April 28, 2021. Hosted by Dr. Som Pourfarzaneh (Director, CMRS), the panel featured Dr. Scott Mitchell, Dr. Pravina Rodrigues, and Professor Najeeba Syeed. View the whole lecture below:
Scott has been a faculty member of the Graduate Theological Institute (GTU) located in Berkeley California, USA since 2008. His affiliation with the GTU and the GTU’s Institute of Buddhist Studies began with his graduate work in 2000. His research interests include Buddhism in Western contexts, Buddhist modernity, Pure Land Buddhism, translocal religions, ritual studies, and media studies. Scott’s publications include Buddhism in America: Global Religion, Local Contexts, (Bloomsbury Academic, 2016) and numerous articles and journal publications. Scott is a graduate of San Francisco State University, and earned a master’s and a Ph.D. from the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, CA, USA.
Pravina holds a PhD in Theology and Ethics from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, USA. She is Newhall Teaching Fellow (2017, 2018, 2020) and Interreligious Collaborative Research Fellow (2019). She is adjunct faculty at Starr King School for the Ministry, Berkeley, CA, and the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University, Berkeley, CA. She is assistant editor for the Journal of Dharma Studies (Springer) and associate editor of a 34-chapter volume at the intersection of ecology and religion titled Religion & Sustainability: Interreligious Resources, Interdisciplinary Responses (forthcoming, Springer). Her publication Upside Down, Inside Out: A Śākta Mnemopraxial Methodology for Comparative Theology (forthcoming, Lexington Press), offers a subaltern Hindu perspective on comparative theology, theology of religions, and interreligious dialogue. Pravina received a master’s in comparative theology from the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University, a bachelor’s degree in sociology from SNDT Women’s University, Mumbai, and a bachelor’s degree of theology from St. Pius X College, Mumbai. Her research interests include postcoloniality in Hindu-Christian comparative theology, methodology in comparative and interfaith theology, comparative mysticism, and faith and pluralism.
Najeeba has been a professor, expert practitioner and public speaker in the fields of conflict resolution, interfaith studies, mediation, education, deliberative democracy, social, gender and racial equity. She has served in numerous roles including chief of staff to Councilmember Nithya Raman, the first Asian American woman elected to the Los Angeles City Council. She has served as associate professor of Muslim and interreligious studies at Chicago Theological Seminary, associate professor of interreligious education at Claremont School of Theology, and taught at Start King School for the Ministry. She has led conflict resolution centers, chaired national conferences on Muslim and interfaith peacebuilding, served as a mediator, and started restorative justice mediation programs in schools. She has served as a peace interventionist in conflicts around the globe. Najeeb’s peace and justice work has been the subject of news reports and documentaries and the NBC documentary “Waging Peace: Muslim and Christian Alternatives.” Najeeba’s scholarship includes faith based, community-based conflict resolution, restorative and healing justice, interfaith just peacemaking, and social justice hermeneutics for interfaith learning. She is co-editor of “Critical Approaches to Interreligious Education,” supported by the Henry Luce Foundation. Najeeba is a graduate of Guilford College and Indiana University Maurer School of Law, and was awarded the Litterarum Humanarum Doctor (Doctor of Humane Letters) from Starr King School for the Ministry.
Som’s scholarship is focused on Islam and media, Muslims in America, anthropology of Islam, digital and social media, social justice, cultural production, interreligious dialogue, and multi-religious identity. Som has written and worked for entertainment companies and editorial websites such as Electronic Arts, Perfect World Entertainment, Modus Games, and MMORPG.com, and is the author of four books and three games. Som received a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA, a master’s in social change from Starr King School for the Ministry, and a Ph.D. in cultural and historical studies of religions from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, CA, USA.