Temple of Understanding celebrating our 60th Anniversary in 2020
The Rev. Victor H. Kazanjian Jr. is the Executive Director of the United Religions Initiative, (URI) a global grassroots interfaith peacebuilding organization with global offices in 21 countries supporting nearly 1,000 grassroots groups working in 108 countries and at the United Nations. URI is a global network working to cultivate peace and justice by engaging people of all beliefs and cultures to bridge differences, foster understanding, build relationships and work together on humanitarian issues for the good of their communities and the world. URI’s mission is to promote enduring, daily interfaith cooperation, to end religiously motivated violence, and to create cultures of peace, justice and healing for the Earth and all living beings. Defying the conventional wisdom that issues of poverty, conflict and violence are best engaged by organizations with a heavy central infrastructure, URI’s decentralized, network-based, light-framed, shared leadership organizational approach is giving people around the world the power to meet their challenges and build cohesive, connected and peaceful communities. Victor regularly leads training programs around the world on intercultural and interreligious dialogue, conflict transformation and peacebuilding, engaging diversity, social justice, community building and community organizing.
Prior to joining URI in October 2013, Victor served for twenty years as the Dean of Intercultural Education, Dean of Religious and Spiritual Life, Co-director of the Peace and Justice Studies Program, and Director of the Peace and Justice Studies Program in India at Wellesley College, in Wellesley, Massachusetts USA. Victor is a visiting faculty member at the Malaviya Center for Peace Research at Banaras Hindu University in Varanasi, India, where he served as Fulbright Professor of Peace & Justice Studies. He also served as a visiting scholar at Harvard Divinity School. In addition, Victor is the co-founder and co-president of Education as Transformation Inc., an international organization that works on issues of religious diversity and spirituality in higher education. Victor’s work at Wellesley College and through Education as Transformation is widely acknowledged as the catalyst in the national and international movement to establish interfaith programs on college and university campuses that include religious diversity and spirituality as core issues in higher education. Specializing in inter-religious and intercultural dialogue, conflict transformation, diversity and democracy, and peace building, Victor is a recognized thought-leader, frequent speaker nationally and internationally, and the author and editor of numerous articles and books. Victor 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 community-based groups. He holds a Master of Divinity degree from the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He is also a graduate of Harvard University.
Rev. Victor Kazanjian on the climate emergency