IRSHAD MANJI is a renowned author, educator, and founder of the Moral Courage Academy in Hawaii. Moral courage means doing the right thing in the face of your fears. Irshad began to practice it as she traveled the world to champion a reformist interpretation of Islam. In 2003, Irshad released her international bestseller, The Trouble with Islam Today: A Muslim's Call for Reform in Her Faith, now published in more than 30 countries. In 2007, her Emmy-nominated PBS film, Faith Without Fear, artfully followed her personal campaign to reconcile Islam with women’s equality, respect for minorities, and honest debate.
Irshad’s work earns high distinction in both the business and humanitarian realms. The World Economic Forum has selected her as a Young Global Leader. More recently, she won the Tom Lantos Award for Human Rights and Justice, named after the only Holocaust survivor to be elected to the U.S. Congress. Irshad's most recent book, Don’t Label Me, is a provocative new take on diversity that inspires us re-think how we see one another -- and ourselves. The recipient of two honorary doctorates, she has engaged students as diverse as West Point cadets and Dalai Lama fellows. Her overarching message: Whatever your vision of progress, you will need to win over many holdouts. That requires listening to the Other, which in turn demands exercising moral courage: speaking truth to the power of one's ego no less than to the powers-that-be in our material world.
As a Fellow of the Oxford Initiative for Global Ethics and Human Rights, Irshad will lecture at our annual seminars, tailoring a half-day workshop based on the curriculum of her Moral Courage Academy. She will explore: What is the most effective way to speak truth to power? When do you step up for the sake of honesty? When do you step back for the sake of humility? Combining her personal reflections with cutting-edge research, Irshad embodies the moral courage that is needed by anyone who seeks to have impact. We are delighted that Irshad has joined our Initiative. Discover more about her work at irshadmanji.com.
DAMIAN GORMAN is an award-winning poet, writer, and director. Damian was recently appointed the fourth and final national/international resident writer of the Theatre Peacebuilding Academy in Northern Ireland. Writer of the BBC2 verse documentary Devices of Detachment, which explored the role of the non-combatant during the Troubles. This was selected for INPUT as one of the 12 best public service programmes in the year of its making, and was subsequently broadcast across the United States on the PBS network. It had a sold-out cinema screening at the Belfast Film Festival in 2013, and in the Black Box in 2019.
Damian was awarded the MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) in 1998 for his services to the Arts as a playwright and poet. Gorman has written poems throughout his life and has often turned his hand to writing about conflict. In the early 1990s he was behind the ground-breaking 'Crann' initiative, which "helped people tell, and hear, the stories of Northern Ireland's 'Troubles' through the arts", and for many years he worked with young Palestinians and Israelis on Rosemary Hollis's 'Olive Tree' project, using creative writing and storytelling as tools of dialogue and understanding. He has just finished a piece of writing commissioned to mark 50 years since the start of the 'Troubles', and his work has garnered awards as diverse as an MBE and a Better Ireland Award.
As a Fellow of the Oxford Initiative for Global Ethics and Human Rights, Damian will design and facilitate a signature writing workshop - one which will aim to challenge students to think about the redress of the word in conflict situations, and encourage them in the agency of their own creativity. In 2018, Damian was poet-in-residence to around sixty young Armenians, winners of a national poetry competition.
MANAS GHANEM is a lawyer, Fulbright laureate, and international specialist with the United Nations since 2006. She is a Fellow of the Oxford Centre for the Resolution of Intractable Conflict. Manas built her career working for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in various emergencies and post-conflict countries including Syria, Uzbekistan, Iraq, Libya, Tunisia, Jordan and Yemen. She worked with UNICEF in Greece on child protection as part of the emergency response to the European refugees and migrant crises. Ghanem founded the UK-based Art & Culture association that works to showcase and grant exposure opportunities to artists residing in conflict zone countries, connecting their artwork with a wider global audience to alter stereotypes and promote creativity, authenticity and peace.
The aim of the association is to convey fresh perspectives to mainstream-media and commercially dominated viewpoints of war-torn countries via the universal medium of art, and in doing so create visually stimulated dialogues and debates that contribute to peace building and conflict resolution.
As a Fellow of the Oxford Initiative for Global Ethics and Human Rights, Manas will continue building her Art and Culture association as well as develop a new children’s library project for children in refugee camps to have cultural stories in their native languages. She will lecture on art in conflict zones at our annual seminars and, beginning in 2020, will direct the 10-day Thessaloniki, Greece portion of the Oxford Initiative’s summer seminar on global ethics and refugee policy. We are delighted to have her join our Initiative. Discover more about her work here: Stories Untold--Art from Syria.