For Immediate Release: November 29, 2022
Contact: Will Whitmire | | (954)-439-3395

To view photos of the event, click HERE

New York, NY— Teachers College, Columbia University, inaugurated the new International Lab for Research and Leadership in Interfaith Collaboration and Coexistence under the leadership of Teachers College Associate Professor of Practice Dr. Amra Sabic-El-Rayess. The Lab will serve as a center of excellence for research, leadership, and training, amplifying protective factors against all forms of hate and radicalization based on one's religion, race, or ethnicity. The Muslim World League has provided a grant to establish and support the Lab’s research and work.

To formalize the grant, Teachers College and the Muslim World League signed a memorandum of understanding as part of a ceremony launching the International Interfaith Research Lab held at Teachers College on November 28. The grant will support the Lab’s work in (1) developing innovative, evidence-based training programs and curricula to address biases in communities and classrooms, both among teachers and students, and (2) advancing new groundbreaking research to improve coexistence, collaboration, and the co-creation of research-based solutions that build socially cohesive world.

“There is growing urgency to address the rise of religion-, ethnicity- and race-based hate and extremism across the globe,” said Teachers College, Columbia University, President Thomas Bailey. “The International Interfaith Research Lab will lead the way in fostering the kind of understanding and collaboration needed to identify and deter the process of radicalization in schools and communities, and we thank His Excellency Dr. Al-Issa and the Muslim World League for their generous support of this important initiative.”

The signing ceremony was attended by Teachers College, Columbia University President Thomas Bailey; His Excellency Dr. Mohammad bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa, Secretary General of the Muslim World League; Dr. Amra Sabic-El-Rayess, Executive Director of The International Interfaith Research Lab; Dr. Samuel Sia, Vice Provost for Fourth Purpose and Strategic Impact, Columbia University, and other prominent dignitaries.

The Muslim World League is dedicated to fighting hate speech and intolerance in all its forms,” said His Excellency Dr. Al-Issa. “We are honored to support the new International Lab for Research and

Leadership in Interfaith Collaboration and Coexistence because it will expand that battle and, through training and research, will help eliminate discrimination and extremism before it can take root in young children.”

Dr. Sabic-El-Rayess will serve as the Lab’s Executive Director. She has taught, researched, and published on a range of issues in education, including educational displacement, targeted violence, interfaith collaboration, and more. Dr. Sabic-El-Rayess's award-winning book The Cat I Never Named: A True Story of Love, War, and Survival (Bloomsbury, 2020) has been integrated into the K-12 curricula and higher education courses throughout the United States as one of the defining texts on resilience to hate and empowerment through education. Additionally, she has received research grants from several prominent government agencies, think tanks, and faith-based organizations, including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Center for Prevention Programs and Partnerships, Muslim World League, U.S. State Department, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and Kennan Institute, International Research and Exchange Board, Harriman Institute, and Women’s World Banking.

“As a Bosniak woman and survivor of the Bosnian Genocide who immigrated to America, I understand the consequences of failing to eradicate hate within communities,” said Dr. Sabic-El-Rayess. “The International Interfaith Research Lab will build bridges — locally, nationally, and globally — to serve as a model for thoughtful engagement and create connected communities that strive to address hate, extremism, and the narratives that seek to divide us.”

The launch event also included a special panel moderated by Dr. Sabic-El-Rayess, with globally recognized Interfaith leaders including His Excellency Dr. Mohammad bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa, Secretary General of the Muslim World League; His Eminence Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York; and Rabbi Arthur Schneier, Senior Rabbi at Park East Synagogue and Founder and President of Appeal of Conscience Foundation. The leaders engaged in a meaningful dialogue on their journey to transformative interreligious collaboration, coexistence, and leadership, the foundational ideas of the International Interfaith Research Lab.

For more information on the International Interfaith Research Lab and its work, please visit here.

About Teachers College

Founded in 1887, Teachers College, Columbia University, the first and largest graduate school of education in the United States, is perennially ranked among the nation’s best. Teachers College’s mission is to create a smarter,

healthier, and more equitable and peaceful world. Teachers College engages in research and prepares professionals in its three main areas of expertise—education, health and psychology—to work with public and private entities in local, national and global communities and inform public policy. Students choose from among 150 separate programs to earn graduate degrees, which are conferred by Columbia University. While it is closely affiliated with

Columbia University and collaborates with it on many programs, the College is an independent, autonomous institution with a separate, independent governing board, president, and financial endowment.

About the Muslim World League

Based in the Holy City of Makkah, the Muslim World League (MWL) is the world’s largest Islamic non-governmental organization which comprises a global network of Islamic religious scholars spanning 139 countries. MWL follows the path of centrism and moderation to realize the message of Islam and ward off movements calling for extremism, violence, and exclusion for a world full of peace, justice, and coexistence.