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Give to the Max: A Message from Executive Director Najeeba Syeed

Dear Friends of the Interfaith Institute,

Since my first day on August 1st, I have already hit the ground running and I would like to share a glimpse of the Institute’s exciting work with you.

Augsburg's Muslim Student Association leaders with Karim El-Hibri, Nancy El-Hibri and Najeeba Syeed.
Augsburg’s Muslim Student Association leaders with Karim El-Hibri, Nancy El-Hibri and Najeeba Syeed

This October, by vote of the full faculty and then Board of Regents, I was incredibly honored to be appointed to the rank of Full Professor, with tenure and a university wide appointment which means I can work with all departments across campus. This demonstrates Augsburg’s commitment to the success of the Institute at all levels. We were so blessed to have Nancy and Karim E-Hibri visit us on campus this semester and inspire our students in so many ways. We are thankful for their involvement and support.

As our team works to build the Institute, we are focused on three elements of interfaith transformational work: Care, Community, and Collaboration.

Our goal is to build on spiritual ethics of care within and across traditions of community to expand our collective capacity for compassion. We know we can only do this by creating intentional communities that bring us together, closer, and connected with a purpose for solving dire issues of our time. Ultimately, we want to collaborate in innovative ways to be the peacebuilders who are celebrated in so many holy scriptures and sacred teachings.

Najeeba and presenters at the National Spirituality in Education event.
Najeeba and presenters at the National Spirituality in Education event at Columbia University in New York on October 22.

This semester, we have already participated in seven public events. Some examples include:

Giving a keynote on how to educate children K-12 in peace and environmental ethics  for the National Conference on Spirituality in Education at Columbia University.
Lecturing on care and community which will reach tens of thousands at the Annual Festival of Faiths, one of the largest annual interfaith events in the country.
Presenting research on addressing mass incarceration from an interfaith perspective, using a restorative justice lens at a conference in Pasadena sponsored by Fuller Seminary and Interfaith America.

We have also been deeply involved with campus based programming, offering a well attended chapel session on interfaith vocation, guest lecturing in religion and communications courses on Augsburg’s campus, and continuing the Interfaith Scholars course which 12 campus leaders from diverse communities attend. We look forward to expanding campus based programming in collaboration with academic departments, campus ministries, student organizations, and off campus community partners.

This year, we have prioritized the current opioid crisis as a programmatic issue building on the programming done by our Institute and campus partners last year, led by Fardosa Hassan on our staff. This is the focus of our academic research and intervention. We have been convening campus partners to address the issue and to build an interfaith framing to expand faith leaders’ capacity to help stem a crisis which has cost more than 100,000 lives across the country and especially concentrated in communities who face other barriers. Our Institute will be publishing best practices and offering public educational programming  that can be utilized nationally for communities who are experiencing parallel addiction crises impacting youth and young people.

We can only be successful if we partner with you, to see a world where people care more, build stronger communities and collaborate to end conditions of despair and violence.

We hope you will consider supporting our work for Give to the Max Day going through Thursday, November 17.

Blessed are the peace makers!

With love and peace,
Najeeba Syeed