Notes: Professor Hoda Mahmoudi The Third Incumbent Bahá’í Chair for World Peace

The Bahá’í Chair for world peace, at the college of behavioural & social sciences, Maryland, USA (at 53:00)

Vision and prospects for world peace, by Professor Hoda Mahmoudi

While listening with great interest to the inaugural speech, these notes and citations provide my understanding of the topic of world peace and how it may relate to my research topic: how worldviews and values shape collective decision-making processes.

‘if we don’t change our direction, we’re likely to end up where we are headed’ (Chinese proverb) (55:25). The need to create a body of tested knowledge for a just, sustainable order.

Human nature (Stephen Pinker, cognitive numbness, role of education in removing unfounded assumptions on human nature. Historian Howard Zinn, 1991 speech, a history of wars and a history of kindness. Social and cognitive scientists, Elie Wiesel, holocaust studies, and psychologist Ervin Staub,, identified initial needs of all human beings, fundamental shared needs: they include: the need for security, for a positive identity, for a sense of effectiveness, for both positive connections to other people and autonomy, for a comprehension of reality. Another need which emerges, when most of the initial needs are taken care of, is the need for transcendence. This is an aspect of spirituality. The need to go beyond one’s own material concerns and beyond the self. When these needs are fulfilled, people are well on their way to harmonious, caring relationships as well as continued growth in their lives (1.06 finish). Creating goodness requires active bystandership by individuals, community, organisations, and nations. A final observation about human nature comes from bioethicist Adriana Gini, and bio psychologist James Giordano,, who state: as evidenced by history, human beings are achievers.

Subject of peace and great transformations

Sociologist Ulrich Beck, 3 trends are briefly described with the question: are they able to describe the changing world? Do they need to be adapted? Modernity (industrial civilization), globalization, often called second modernity (able to remove limitations of space and time), and cosmopolitanism.

1 modernity, 2 globalization, Ian Clark, international relations: there can be an international order of globalized states. 3. Cosmopolitanism, a set of moral standards for living in a global order. Kwame Anthony Appiah, Professor of philosophy, Princeton University (, defines it as the conjunction of two ideas: some form of commitment to the universality of concern for all human beings. Distinctive about cosmopolitan universalism is that it combines that sense that everybody matters. We like the fact that the world is full of different kinds of people. The origins of totalitarism, by political theorist, Hannah Arendt, and his vision of a common mankind. She points to the fact that the examination of humankind as a whole should be at the centre of our theories and empirical studies. Knowledge must take us to new ways of conceptualising the world as a unity. Each person you know and know about, you have some responsibility (Appiah).

Now, the specific vision for the Baha’i Chair (01.17.30)

The chair should be a solution to the world’s challenges, be a forum for discussions on world peace. But why is the Baha’i Faith so much interested in world peace? The Faith has raised awareness and consciousness about world peace. Abdu’l-Bahá, in 1919 talked about the need for a comprehensive framework for world peace. The need for values that transcend all cultures (1.25.15). Central aim is to create a learning community. Learning takes place through a process oriented, dialogic and reflective inquiry, whereby the study of a body of knowledge results in practical means for the betterment of the human condition. Here the relationship between science and religion is central to the pursuit of knowledge. Peace stems from an inner state, supported by values. The Baha’i chair offers a framework for working.

A list of major global issues, that if not addressed, will serve as a barrier to peace.

Rising global inequality, discrimination and violence against women, tensions and divisions caused by religious conflicts, a growing culture of hate, the scourge of prejudice and racism, lack of universal education, and failure to teach the concept of world citizenship.

Students will correlate values…with an interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary approach (1.29.38). The chair will adopt a worldview approach. A global council of peace chairs is being discussed.

Conclusion: a further goal is to explore new frontiers about peace, pushing forward the horizon and exploring the possibilities before us, as its’ full aim on this journey. As astrophysicist Carl Sagan stated: what distinguishes our species is thought. The cerebral cortex is a liberation. We are each one of us, largely responsible for what gets into our brains, for what as adults we wind up caring for, and knowing about.

The Bahá’í chair will advance a new and innovative discourse on global peace. Please join with us in this effort.


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