The Khatib Chair in Comparative Religion

The Khatib Chair in Comparative Religion

Each spring, through the generosity of Dr. Reza Khatib and Mrs. Georgianna Clifford Khatib '52, St. Joseph's hosts a noted scholar who lectures, leads faculty discussions and teaches a course to students from both campuses.

The Khatib Chair's purpose is to promote interfaith dialogue, with the study of Islam being an integral part of the initiative. 

2017 Khatib Chair — Mehdi Aminrazavi, Ph.D. • "Violence and Peace in Islam"

Mehdi Aminrazavi,

About Dr. Aminrazavi

A native of Iran, Mehdi Aminrazavi, Ph.D., is a professor of classics, philosophy and religion at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, V.A., who specializes in the areas of eastern religions, Islam and the Middle East, Islamic philosophy and theology, medieval philosophy and philosophy of religion. A member of the editorial board of the Journal of Religious Studies, Cambridge University Press, he has authored and edited numerous books and articles and co-edited the five-volume set, An Anthology of Philosophy in Persia, which was recognized at the 23rd annual Tehran International Book Fair in 2010 as a superior book in the field of humanities.

Dr. Aminrazavi has been the recipient of many national and international awards and accolades for his achievements in the field. He received a Ph.D. in Philosophy of Religion from Temple University after receiving an M.A. in Philosophy and a B.A. in Urban Planning from the University of Washington.

Dr. Aminrazavi was also St. Joseph's College's 2014 Khatib Chair, presenting a lecture titled "Shiʻism and the Politics of the Hidden Imam."

2016 Khatib Chair
Kusumita P. Pedersen, Ph.D. • "Hinduism and Universality in Religion"

Kusumita Pedersen

About Dr. Pedersen

Kusumita P. Pedersen, Ph.D., Chair of the Department of Religion at St. Francis College, has been involved with the international interfaith movement for more than 25 years. Her academic interests include interreligious dialogue and cooperation, global ethics and human rights. Previously, she was executive director of the Project on Religion and Human Rights, a group that provides a forum for study and advocacy and collaborates with academic resources and public policy centers to ensure that religion is included in the promotion of human rights; joint secretary for religious affairs of the Global Forum of Spiritual and Parliamentary Leaders on Human Survival and executive director of the Temple of Understanding, which is involved with interfaith education and supporting the UN.

Currently, she is co-chair of the Interfaith Center of New York, which seeks to create understanding and respect between the different religious groups that can be found in New York City. She is also a member of the Board of Trustees of the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions, which hopes to establish harmony and engagement between the world’s religions. Dr. Pedersen has concentrated for much of her life to promoting interfaith dialogue and understanding and wrote for The World’s Religions After September 11, which highlights the changes in the relationships between the faiths that are occurring into the 21st century.


2015 Khatib Chair
Robert Ellsburg • "Thomas Merton — Spiritual Explorer"

Robert Ellsburg

About Robert Ellsburg

Robert Ellsberg is the publisher, executive director and editor-in-chief of Orbis Books. He is the former managing editor of The Catholic Worker, where he was introduced to Dorothy Day, founder of the newspaper. Ellsberg credits Ms. Day for influencing his life’s work and vocation as a writer and an editor, along with his decision to convert to Catholicism and study theology.

Ellsberg is the author and editor of several award-winning books, including All Saints: Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (Crossroad, 1997) and All the Way to Heaven: The Selected Letters of Dorothy Day (Marquette University Press, 2010, editor). He received an Applied Baccalaureate with special concentrations in religion and literature from Harvard College and a Master of Theology from the Harvard Divinity School.

2014 Khatib Chair
Mehdi Aminrazavi, Ph.D. • "Shiʻism and the Politics of the Hidden Imam"

Mehdi Aminrazavi,

About Dr. Aminrazavi

A native of Iran, Mehdi Aminrazavi, Ph.D., is a professor of classics, philosophy and religion at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, V.A., who specializes in the areas of eastern religions, Islam and the Middle East, Islamic philosophy and theology, medieval philosophy and philosophy of religion. A member of the editorial board of the Journal of Religious Studies, Cambridge University Press, he has authored and edited numerous books and articles and co-edited the five-volume set, An Anthology of Philosophy in Persia, which was recognized at the 23rd annual Tehran International Book Fair in 2010 as a superior book in the field of humanities.

Dr. Aminrazavi has been the recipient of many national and international awards and accolades for his achievements in the field. He received a Ph.D. in Philosophy of Religion from Temple University after receiving an M.A. in Philosophy and a B.A. in Urban Planning from the University of Washington.

2013 Khatib Chair
Rev. Msgr. John J. Strynkowski, Ph.D. • "The Search for Christian Unity: A Fading Dream or a Potent Reality?"

John Strynkowski

About Rev. Msgr. John J. Strynkowski, Ph.D.

Ordained a priest for the Diocese of Brooklyn in 1963, Msgr. John Strynkowski has served as a parochial vicar, official of the Vatican’s Secretariat of State and then the Congregation for Bishops, professor of theology and rector at the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception (Huntington, New York), pastor, and executive director of the Secretariat for Doctrine and Pastoral Practices at the USCCB. He is currently Rector of St. James Cathedral Basilica in Downtown Brooklyn and Vicar for Higher Education.

Msgr. Strynkowski obtained a doctorate in Sacred Theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in 1972. He has published numerous articles, has given many priests’ retreats and has spoken at numerous conferences on ecclesiology, ministry and spirituality.


2012 Khatib Chair
Rabbi Gary Bretton-Granatoor • "Catholic-Jewish Relations: 46 Years From Vatican II When Everything Changed — Or Did It?"

Rabbi Gary

About Rabbi Gary Bretton-Granatoor

Rabbi Gary Bretton-Granatoor is the vice president of philanthropy at the World Union for Progressive Judaism which serves, nurtures and supports more than 1,200 reform/progressive/liberal Jewish congregations and more than 1.7 million members around the world. He is a recognized expert in interfaith relations, a well-known lecturer, author of numerous articles and editor of two books.

Rabbi Bretton-Granatoor has also served as director of the education division and as director of interfaith affairs at the Anti-Defamation League. He served as senior rabbi at Stephen Wise Free Synagogue in Manhattan for eight years.


2011 Khatib Chair
Chung Hyun Kyung, Ph.D. • "A Buddhist Perspective on Personal and Social Ethics"

Chung Hyun Kyung

About Chung Hyun Kyung, Ph.D.

Korean Christian theologian and lay theologian of the Presbyterian Church of Korea, Chung Hyun Kyung has taught and researched feminist and eco-feminist theologies, Christian- Buddhist dialogue and many other cross-cultural issues. Currently an associate professor of ecumenical studies at the Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York, Dr. Chung has authored several books, including her best-known book Struggling to be the Sun Again: Introducing Asian Women’s Theology (1991).

She received her B.A. and M.A. degrees from Ewha Women’s University in Seoul and holds the M.Div. from the School of Theology at Claremont, a diploma from the Women’s Theological Center in Boston and a Ph.D. from Union Theological Seminary.


2010 Khatib Chair
Margot Badran, Ph.D. • "Islam and Gender Journey into the 21st Century"

Margot Badran

About Margot Badran, Ph.D. 

Dr. Margot Badran specializes in gender studies and feminism in Muslim societies and serves as a senior fellow at the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University. While previously employed by Northwestern University, she was the Edith Kreeger Wolf Distinguished Visiting Professor in the Department of Religion and preceptor at the Institute for the Study of Islamic Thought in Africa.

Dr. Badran received her doctorate in philosophy from Oxford University and has authored several books, including her most recent, Feminism in Islam: Secular and Religious Convergences.


2009 Khatib Chair
Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf • "Islam in the 21st Century"

Imam Feisal

About Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf

Imam Feisal, noted teacher, author and activist, has dedicated his life to building bridges between Muslims and the West. He created the first Muslim organization committed to bringing Muslims and non-Muslims together through programs in academia, policy, current affairs and culture. Regarded as one of the world’s most eloquent and erudite Muslim leaders, Imam Feisal speaks frequently at major U.S. think tanks and international conferences.

Founder of the American Society for Muslim Advancement and the Masjid Al-Farah mosque, Imam Feisal was born in Kuwait and educated in Egypt, England, Malaysia and New York. Active in many national and international groups, including the Cordoba Initiative, his latest book is What’s Right with Islam is What’s Right with America.