Zahra Jamal Appointed Associate Director of Boniuk Institute, Rice University

Ismaili Mail

Dr. Zahra Jamal

Ismaili Mail

The start of the school year brings new leadership to Rice’s Boniuk Institute for the Study and Advancement of Religious Tolerance. Paula Sanders, vice provost for academic affairs and professor of history, has become the institute’s interim director, and Islam scholar and Rice alumna Zahra Jamal ‘00 is the institute’s associate director for community engagement. Their new roles began July 1.

Sanders and Jamal are longtime collaborators. Sanders was Jamal’s adviser when Jamal was a Rice undergraduate double-majoring in Middle Eastern and Islamic studies and Slavic studies.

[…] Jamal’s role is to foster opportunities to engage the public in religious literacy through the arts, service projects and educational outreach. She said the return to Rice provides a welcome challenge to translate knowledge into action. “I’ve always had one foot in academia and the other foot in the ‘real world,’ so to speak,” Jamal said. “I’ve tried to create a career in which I can live out my values and be able to marry those two things — the acquisition of knowledge and the application of it — in order to leave the world improved.”

Prior to her new job, Jamal founded and directed the Civil Islam Initiative at University of Chicago and the Central Asia and International Development Initiative at Michigan State University. She has taught at Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Chicago, Michigan State University and Palmer Trinity, a college preparatory school. She has consulted for the United Nations, the State Department, the Aga Khan Development Network, the Swiss Development Cooperation and the Aspen Institute. Jamal received a Ph.D. in social anthropology and Middle Eastern studies from Harvard in 2008.