Abdul Aziz Said Peace Scholars

The School of International Service (SIS) Said Peace Scholars Program is designed for a small cohort of 20 students who wish to advance Professor Abdul Aziz Said’s life’s mission through the study of peace, conflict resolution and interfaith dialogue. Professor Said personified SIS’s mission of waging peace through his teaching, scholarship, and activism. Founder and Director of SIS's Center for Global Peace, Professor Said was a prolific scholar and conflict resolution practitioner who created the MA in International Peace and Conflict Resolution in SIS. In the words of Dean Chin, “his dedication to the pursuit of knowledge and building a more peaceful world is second to none” and the Said Peace Scholars Program will honor his legacy by training the next generation of undergraduate students to build upon and continue his work.

Born in Syria, Professor Said was educated in his country of birth (he was forced to attend French school during France's occupation of Syria), Beirut, and Cairo before arriving in Washington DC. He founded and directed SIS’s Center for Global Peace and worked with students in 1995 to create the MA in International Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR). Under his direction, IPCR quickly became one of the world’s largest such programs.

Professor Said was a trailblazer. He helped build the field of peace and conflict resolution in the United States through his 25 authored and co-authored books and through his initiative to bring peace studies, with its emphasis on justice and the underlying causes of conflict, into dialogue with the field of conflict resolution. His scholarship drew early attention to topics underrecognized in the field that subsequently came to the forefront of studies in international relations. His 1963 book, Concepts of International Politics in Global Perspective, co-authored with the then-SIS dean Charles O. Lerche Jr., analyzed non-Western approaches to international relations. His 1977 book, Ethnicity and U.S. Foreign Policy, examined the role of hyphenated Americans on diplomacy. Much of his scholarship analyzed the role of spirituality and religion in international relations, and he was a leader in writing on Islamic concepts of peace. His most recent work focused on localizing peacebuilding.

Professor Said’s expertise was widely recognized by policymakers and thought leaders in and out of government. He consulted on matters pertaining to the Middle East, to Islam, and to peace with the US Departments of State and Defense, the United Nations, and the White House Committee on the Islamic World. In 2007, he was awarded the El-Hibri Peace Education Prize. It is further evidence of Professor Said’s lasting impact on SIS that three separate funds have been established in his honor: the Abdul Aziz Said Phi Epsilon Pi Scholarship assists undergraduate students with a dedicated commitment to diversity, the Abdul Aziz Said Scholarship Fund aids graduate students in the IPCR program, and the Abdul Aziz Said Peace and Conflict Resolution Fund supports initiatives within SIS to foster a deeper understanding of the critical issues around peacebuilding and conflict resolution.

He was a gifted and beloved teacher who especially attracted international students. His mentees included peace activists and leaders around the world, including Germany’s Green Party founder Petra Kelly, SIS/BA ’70. Many of us in SIS-AU have long been accustomed to alumni approaching us during trips abroad to send their good wishes to “Professor.” His course on peace paradigms famously closed with consideration of the role of love and spirituality in global peace. Reflecting his commitment to interfaith inclusion, when Jewish students approached him with frustrations that no campus fraternity would admit them, he helped them create AU’s Jewish fraternity, Phi Epsilon Pi, and he served as its faculty adviser for decades.  

Students apply for the program after the fall semester of their first year. The following students are eligible to apply:

  • First-Year students who intend to major in SIS and are interested in pursuing a primary or secondary thematic area focus on Peace, Global Security and Conflict Resolution (PGSCR)
  • Students with both a major and an overall GPA of 3.0 or above

Students will enroll in a specially designated section of SISU-205 Intercultural Communication in the fall semester and in a specially designated section of SISU-210 Peace, Global Security and Conflict resolution in the spring semester.

Students will also participate in various thematically relevant extracurricular events in addition to a spring Alternative Break Program organized in furtherance of Said’s work on conflict resolution and/or interfaith dialogue.

Travel scholarships are available for qualifying students to help defray the cost of the Alternative Break trip.

The application deadline is January 15, 2022, at 5:00 p.m. EST. All application materials must be submitted by the deadline to be considered for admission to the program for academic year 22-23.

Applications to the SIS Said Peace Scholars Program must include:

  • A 500-word statement of how you envision putting into practice Professor Said’s commitment to peace, conflict resolution and interfaith dialogue through your own scholarship and service.
  • An unofficial transcript.
  • Letter of recommendation from an SIS faculty member, to be emailed directly by the faculty member to sisundergrad@american.edu.

Please submit your statement of interest and unofficial transcript in a single email to sisundergrad@american.edu and include your full name in the email's subject line.