Today, we are honored to release the second line-up of keynote speakers who will take the stage at the Parliament of the World's Religions, sharing with both assembly and plenary audiences what it means to lead grassroots and global collaborations with people of faith and conscience to achieve a more peaceful, just, and sustainable world.
Among them: two of 2017's Nobel Laureates steadfastly fighting to abolish nuclear weapons, Canada's first Jewish woman and refugee to serve as Justice on its Supreme Court, the eminent Archbishop of Toronto, the United Nations Principal Representative for the Baha'i faith, a beloved Swami whose work touches India's forgotten, an author whose words on religion and compassion have echoed around the world through 45 languages, a Sikh activist and scholar setting new standards for the dignity and rights of all peoples in democratic society, the Episcopal leader who is taking grassroots Interfaith leadership to new heights and new nations for the United Religions Initiative, and the Muslim educator and social entrepreneur who has provided aid and educational opportunities to countless vulnerable and oppressed children.
We invite you to join us, once again, in welcoming to the Parliament of the World's Religions these exceptional living examples of the promise of inclusion and the power of love.
On January 6, 2012, the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI announced the appointment of Cardinal Collins to the College of Cardinals. He was elevated to the College of Cardinals as Cardinal Priest of San Patrizio on February 18, 2012. Cardinal Collins participated in the March 2013 conclave that elected Pope Francis.
The Parliament is proud to feature as a guest of the Women's Dignity track the Honourable Rosalie Abella, Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada who was distinguished in her 2004 appointment as the first Jewish woman and refugee in Canada to serve on the Court. She previously served 12 years on the Ontario Board of Appeal and is the author of the 1984 Royal Commission on Equality in Employment, creating the term and concept of “employment equity.” She is a specially elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, as well as a graduate of the Royal Conservatory of Music in classical piano.
The Countering Hate & Violence Task Force welcomes Swami Agnivesh to its programme. An activist based in New Delhi, India, he is a leader of Arya Samaj, and Former Board member of KAICIID (King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue). He has worked on many social issues nationally and internationally such as abolition of untouchability and caste system in Hindu religious society, women's equality, and religious tolerance and reconciliation. He is a strong advocate of interfaith action for social justice, having been awarded the Right Livelihood award, known as the Alternative Nobel, in 2004. In 1968 he became a full-time worker of the Arya Samaj, a Hindu reformist movement, and two years later became a sanyasi, renouncing worldly possessions and becoming, in the process, Swami Agnivesh in March 1970.
The Parliament of the World's Religions is proud to welcome the return of Dr. Sakena Yacoobi to this year's convening. Yacoobi, founder and Executive Director of the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL - an Afghan women-led NGO founded in 1995). Well known for her work for the rights of children, women and education, Yacoobi will appear in major assemblies hosted at the Parliament for Women's Dignity and Countering Hate & Violence.
She has earned international recognition for her work and received numerous awards including the Opus Prize, WISE Prize in Education, Sunhak Peace Prize and the Sri Sathya Sai Award for Human Excellence in Education as well as 6 honorary degrees including from Princeton University. AIL was the first organization to offer human rights and leadership training to Afghan women - and when the Taliban closed girls' schools, AIL supported 80 underground home schools for 3,000 girls. Since 1996, 16 million Afghans have benefited from AIL’s education, training and health programs.
Simran Jeet Singh is an award-winning educator, writer, activist, and scholar who believes deeply that love, equity, and justice are closely intertwined. Dr. Singh will offer an opening address at the 2018 Parliament of the World's Religions.
He writes and speaks regularly on issues of diversity, inclusion, civil rights, religion, and hate violence. Simran is a professor of religion at Trinity University and Senior Religion Fellow for the Sikh Coalition, a civil rights organization based in New York City. This year, Simran serves as the Henry R. Luce Fellow for Religion in International Affairs at NYU’s Center for Religion and Media. He is also on the board for Religion News Association, a fellow for the Truman National Security Project, and a term-member for the Council on Foreign Relations. A native of Texas, USA, Simran is a loving husband, father to a young daughter, and avid supporter of his hometown professional basketball team, the San Antonio Spurs.
The Parliament of the World's Religions gratefully welcomes the return of British historian of religions, prolific author and founder of the global compassion movement, Karen Armstrong OBE. Our most recent honoree of the Parliament of the World's Religions Paul Carus Award, Armstrong will offer her newest talk during a thematic plenary on Understanding.
The Executive Director of the global grassroots interfaith network and Parliament of the World's Religions partner the United Religions Initiative, Rev. Victor Kazanjian will appear in a Parliament plenary on Faith & Interfaith: Grassroots and Global. Prior to joining URI in 2013, Victor served as the dean of Intercultural Education and Religious and Spiritual Life, co-director of the Peace and Justice Studies Program, and director of the Peace Studies Program in India at Wellesley College, in Wellesley, Massachusetts USA. Specializing in inter-religious dialogue and conflict transformation, diversity and democracy, education as transformation, and peace building, Victor is a recognized thought leader and the author and editor of numerous books and articles. Victor Kazanjian is an ordained priest in the Episcopal Church and was trained as a community organizer working to address the systemic causes of poverty and injustice through the support of religious and community-based groups.
Read more about Rev. Kazanjian >
Bani Dugal, Principal Representative of the Bahá’í International Community to the UN, will be a featured speaker in the Women's Assembly of the 2018 Parliament of the World's Religions. An active leader across UN agencies, Dugal began her career in environmental law and expanded her work as a voice on behalf of NGOs advocating global issues with UNICEF, the UN Security Council, the UN Commission on the Status of Women, and is currently serving on the NGO Committee on Freedom of Religion or Belief.
Read more about Bani Dugal >
Dr. Emily Welty is an activist, academic and artist working in the field of Peace and Justice Studies. She is a professor and director of Peace and Justice Studies at Pace University in New York City and currently serves as the Vice Moderator of the World Council of Churches Commission on International Affairs. She has worked on nuclear disarmament from the perspective of faith-based resistance to nuclear weapons and was part of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapon's 2017 Nobel Peace Prize. Her scholarship and research focuses on faith-based peacebuilding and development work as well as nonviolent resistance. The Assembly and Program Initiative for Countering Hate & Violence is proud to welcome Dr. Welty to this year's Parliament of the World's Religions.
Read more about Dr. Emily Welty >
Dr. Matthew Bolton will join the Parliament of the World's Religions 7th gathering in Toronto for its Assembly on Countering Hate & Violence. He is director of the International Disarmament Institute and associate professor of political science at Pace University in New York City. He has been a participant observer in many multilateral disarmament and arms control policymaking processes, on landmines, cluster munitions, guns, the arms trade, nuclear weapons and military robotics. Since 2014, he has worked on the UN advocacy of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, recipient of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize. He has a PhD in Government from the London School of Economics.