FR. DR. ALBERTO FABIO AMROSIO was born in Fano (Italy) in 1971 and studied first in Milan.  Having read philosophy and theology at the Dominican College in Bologna, he then undertook studies in Turkish language and civilization at Marc Bloch University in Strasbourg.  In 2002 he completed an MA in Turkish, the subject of his thesis being the ritual of initiation into the Bektashi Order.  In the same year he completed a second MA in theology with a paper on Hinduism and Sufism (the case of Bistami). 

In 2007 he finished his doctoral studies in modern history at the University of Paris (Sorbonne) on the subject of doctrines and practises of the Whirling Dervishes in the Ottoman Empire during the seventeenth century.  His publications on Rumi and the Whirling Dervishes include: Vie d’un derviche tourneur.  Doctrine et rituels du soufisme au xviie siècle, Paris:  CNRS Editions, 2010; Les derviches tourneurs.  Doctrine, histoire et pratiques (2006) with Eve Pierunek and Thierry Zarcone, somes articles on Ismail Rusuhi Ankaravi, in Revue des mondes musulmans et de la Méditerranée (2006), as well as contributions to the Journal of the History of Sufism.  He also published the French translation of Sadik Yalsizuçunlar, Gezgin with the title Itinéraire d’un soufi. Récits d’Ibn ‘Arabî (Paris, Le Cerf, 2013). 

His last spiritual book is Petite mystique du dialogue (Paris, Le Cerf, 2013).  He is currently pursuing his research on the sufi culture and on the mystical order of the Whirling Dervishes in Istanbul where he has resided since 2003.


Scott Appleby.png

SCOTT APPLEBY (Ph.D. University of Chicago, 1985) is the Marilyn Keough Dean of Notre Dame's Keough School of Global Affairs.

Appleby, a professor of history at Notre Dame, is a scholar of global religion who has been a member of Notre Dame's faculty since 1994. He graduated from Notre Dame in 1978 and received master's and Ph.D. degrees in history from the University of Chicago. From 2000-2014, he served as the Regan Director of the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies. Appleby also directs Contending Modernities, a major multi-year project to examine the interaction among Catholic, Muslim, and secular forces in the modern world.

Appleby's research examines the various ways in which religious movements and organizations shape, and are shaped by national, regional and global dynamics of governance, deadly conflict, international relations and economic development. He co-chaired the Chicago Council on Global Affairs' Task Force on Religion and the Making of U.S. Foreign Policy, which released the influential report, "Engaging Religious Communities Abroad: A New Imperative for U.S. Foreign Policy." From 1988 to 1993 Appleby was co-director of the Fundamentalism Project, an international public policy study conducted by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. 

Appleby is the author or editor of 15 books, including the widely cited volumes of The Fundamentalism Project (co-edited with Martin E. Marty and published by the University of Chicago Press); and The Ambivalence of the Sacred: Religion, Violence and Reconciliation. Most recently, Appleby co-edited (with Atalia Omer) The Oxford Handbook on Religion, Conflict and Peacebuilding. He also serves as lead editor of the Oxford University Press series "Studies in Strategic Peacebuilding." Other Appleby titles include Catholics in the American Century(Cornell University Press, 2012); Peacebuilding: Catholic Theology, Ethics and Praxis (Orbis, 2010) and Church and Age Unite! The Modernist Impulse in American Catholicism (Notre Dame 1992).

A fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences, Appleby is the recipient of three honorary doctorates, from Fordham University, Scranton University and St. John's University, Collegeville, Minnesota.


VANESSA CONTOPULOS is a singer-songwriter and board certified music therapist based in San Diego California. As a Rotary Peace Fellow, she completed her MA in conflict resolution at the University of Bradford in the UK. She is interested in the capacity of music to facilitate healing and change within individuals and also within communities.

Vanessa believes that storytelling through songwriting has a unique ability to open up deeper conversations about our most challenging social issues. She explores the stories of others as well as her own story of loss and healing in her music.

As a music therapist, Vanessa works with a wide range of client populations. Whether it is with survivors of violence, individuals at the end of life, children with special needs, or individuals navigating a life transition; she is continually amazed at the capacity of music to be exactly what is needed in our most vulnerable, human moments.

Michael Fryer.jpg

MICHAEL FRYER has been working on issues relating to peace and conflict since 1996. He is particularly interested in the role of creativity, storytelling and the arts in helping to cultivate social change.

His work as a trainer and facilitator has given him the opportunity to work with people from around the world and he believes that there are many thousands of stories of how conflicts are transformed that need to be gathered and shared. Michael has an MA in Conflict Resolution from the University of Bradford, UK.

He has written about the subversive nature of beauty in conflict settings and through The SongStream Project, explores voices on the margins of society through the lens of music and memory.

ROSHI RUBEN L. F. HABITO is the author of numerous publications, in both Japanese and English, on Zen and Christianity, including Healing Breath:  Zen for Christians and Buddhists in a Wounded World and Living Zen, Loving God

A native of the Philippines, Habito served as a Jesuit priest in Japan under the guidance of the great spiritual pioneer Father Hugo Enomiya-Lassalle and studied Zen with renowned teacher Koun Yamada.  Active in the Buddhist-Christian Dialogue, he is Master of the Maria Kannon Zen Center and Professor of World Religions and Spirituality at the Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.


Carole Kane.jpg

CAROLE KANE  was originally trained as a weaver. Her work now covers different approaches which intertwine around the Expressive Arts, creativity, community development, education and leadership. She continues to practice as a freelance artist, facilitator and coordinator.

With 20 years experience delivering courses, initiating and facilitating projects for all kinds of people in both community art and education settings across Northern Ireland, Carole has devised arts projects for those in trauma, used creative approaches to community development, delivered leadership training, access to the arts programmes and taught business and professional development skills to those in the creative industries. Her practice is seen and recognised locally and beyond.

Carole’s qualifications include a Bachelors Degree with honours in Design (Constructed Textiles) from Duncan of Jordanstone University of Dundee, Postgraduate Certificate in Further and Higher Education and an Advanced Diploma in Management Practice from Ulster University. She is currently studying a Masters in Expressive Arts in Conflict Transformation and Peacebuilding in the European Graduate School, Switzerland.

PETR JANATA is a cognitive neuroscientist specializing in studies of auditory and music cognition.  He received his Ph.D. from the University of Oregon where he performed electrophysiological studies of auditory object representations in the barn owl brain and musical image formation in the human brain. 

As a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Chicago he used electrophysiological and computational approaches to investigate song perception and song learning in songbirds.  He was then on the research faculty at Dartmouth College where he resumed his long-standing line of music perception research, initiated as an undergraduate at Reed College and continued as a Fulbright Scholar in Vienna, Austria.  He is currently a faculty member of the Center for Mind and Brain at UC Davis where he continues to use music and neuroimaging tools as a means of understanding how the brain organizes complex human behaviors. 

Dr. Janata uses a wide array of behavioral, physiological, and computational techniques to examine challenging but far-reaching issues pertaining to ways in which music and musical experiences are manifested in the brain.  This work has been supported by a Templeton Advanced Research Program grant from the Metanexus Institute to study, “Music, Spirituality, Religion, and the Human Brain.” In 2010 he received a Fulbright Fellowship to spend the 2010-11 academic year at the Czech Academy of Sciences in Prague to study advanced techniques in neuroimaging data analysis, and in the same year he also received a Guggenheim Fellowship to further his investigation of what music-evoked autobiographical memories can tell us about the functional organization of the brain.

John Paul Lederach.jpg

JOHN PAUL LEDERACH is widely known for his pioneering work in conflict transformation, Lederach is involved in conciliation work in Colombia, the Philippines, and Nepal, plus countries in East and West Africa.  He has helped design and conduct training programs in 30 countries across five continents.  He currently serves as Senior Fellow for Humanity United and is Professor of International Peacebuilding with the Kroc Institute at the University of Notre Dame.

 Lederach is author of 22 books and manuals including the more recently published Reconcile (Herald Press, 2014),  The Moral Imagination: The Art and Soul of Building Peace (Oxford University Press, 2005), and co-author with his daughter Angela Jill Lederach, When Blood and Bones Cry Out:  Journeys Through the Soundscape of Healing and Reconciliation, (Oxford University Press, 2012).


Juliane Okot Bitek - Photo by Colleen Butler.jpg

JULIANE OKOT BITEK comes to a diasporic identity quite honestly.  She was born to Ugandan exiles in Kenya and has never known the life of being a natural born citizen of any country. 

She graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Art (Creative Writing) and a Master’s Degree in English from the University of British Columbia.  Juliane is in the throes of her doctoral studies in interdisciplinary studies and is a Liu Scholar and recipient of the SSHRC Doctoral Scholarship at UBC. 

She has co-authored a book, Stories from the Dry Season on the experiences of formerly abducted women from northern Uganda with Grace Acan and others.  She also has a poetry manuscript that she's grappling with.  Juliane lives with her husband and two children in Vancouver, Canada.

Tom Petersen

TOM PETERSEN began his professional career teaching Philosophy of Education at Saint Mary's College.  After post-doctoral training in Counseling Psychology at the Alfred Adler Institute in Chicago, Illinois he founded the Family Education Association of Michiana and a private practice in counseling and psychotherapy in South Bend, Indiana.  He was consultant to the Center for Continuing Formation in Ministry for 15 years at the University of Notre Dame and for 25 years he was Associate Faculty at Indiana University at South Bend, Indiana. 

Tom began his formal Zen practice in 1995 under the direction of Ruben Habito, current Zen Master at the Maria Kannon Zen Center in Dallas, Texas.  Twelve years ago he founded Sophia Zen Center where he is spiritual director, continuing his Zen training with Ruben Habito.

Kirsten Rian.jpg

KIRSTEN RIAN spent the past 25 years creating work as a multidisciplinary artist in the literary and visual arts fields as a writer, painter, curator, and musician, reflecting a commitment to community—both that in her immediate orbit, as well as in the greater international context.  Her work as a writer with refugee and immigrant communities explores how storytelling and sharing through creative mediums often allows the hardest, and most necessary aspects of human history to be remembered, and in fact, honored. 

She has led creative writing workshops both domestically, as well as internationally in locations like post-war Sierra Leone and refugee relocation centers in Finland, using creative writing as a tool for literacy and peacebuilding, and domestically she is a volunteer language facilitator for non-native speakers.  Her most recent international exhibition was in Iceland. She is widely published as an essayist and poet. Her anthology of Sierra Leonean poetry, Kalashnikov in the Sun (Pika Press) is in every classroom in Sierra Leone. She is the author of the weekly column "The Alphabet of Light" for Daylight Magazine, is the poetry editor at The Oregonian newspaper, and is the recipient of  numerous grants and fellowships. 

As an independent curator, she has coordinated more than 375 photography exhibitions, and picture edited or written for over 80 books and catalogues. She was chief curator for a cultural symposium in China, and for Mercy Corps she created a permanent exhibition on all four floors of the new headquarters building, documenting their work in the field.  She recently worked with Lewis & Clark College’s William Stafford Archives, creating a multimedia installation and a permanent online exhibition and archive from William Stafford’s 16,000 images for the centennial symposium in 2014 celebrating his life as a poet and peace activist.

Tommy Sands.jpg

TOMMY SANDS is from County Down, Northern Ireland.  He is a singer, songwriter and social activist who has achieved something akin to legendary status in his own lifetime.  From the pioneering days with the highly influential Sands Family, bringing Irish Music from New York's Carnegie Hall to Moscow's Olympic Stadium, he has developed into one of the most powerful songwriters and enchanting solo performers in Ireland today.

His songwriting, which drew the admiration of the late Nobel Poet Laureate Seamus Heaney and father of folk music Pete Seeger, prompts respected US magazine "Sing Out" to regard him as "the most powerful songwriter in Ireland, if not the rest of the world". 

His songs, like There were Roses, and Daughters and Sons, which have been recorded by Joan Baez, Kathy Matthea, Dolores Keane, Sean Keane, Frank Patterson, Dick Gaughan, The Dubliners and many others have been translated into many languages and are currently included in the English language syllabus in German secondary schools.

Although constantly performing on stages all around the world he prides in taking his music down from the lights and into the darker corners of society. One of his current projects, teaching underprivledged prisoners in Reno, Nevada to write their own song with which to defend themselves in court is currently creating a wide spread stir in the world of community art in the United States. Back home in Northern Ireland he has just completed a CD written with Protestant and Catholic schoolchildren about their own areas, in towns and villages around Northern Ireland.  During the Good Friday Agreement Talks, his impromptu performance with a group of children and Lambeg drummers was described by Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Seamus Mallon as "a defining moment in the Peace Process". 

Mary McAleese, who was cast in a romantic role with Tommy in a local play just before she became President of the Irish Republic has kept up the friendship and periodically calls upon him for advice on cultural events.  Sands, "It would take a mean bastard to dislike him," according to Eamon McCann in Hot Press, has a way with words to charm and disarm and coax a chorus out of the tightest jawed audience.

In May 2002 Tommy Sands received an honourary doctorate of Letters from The University of Nevada for his outstanding work as musician and ambassador for peace and understanding and, May 18th has been pronounced "Tommy Sands Day in Reno."

Clifford Saron.jpg

CLIFFORD D. SARON is an Associate Research Scientist at the Center for Mind and Brain and MIND Institute at the University of California at Davis.  He received his Ph.D. in neuroscience from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in 1999. Dr. Saron has had a long-standing interest in the effects of contemplative practice on physiology and behavior. In the early 1990s, in collaboration with Francisco Varela, Alan Wallace, Richard Davidson, José Cabezón and others, he coordinated field research investigating Tibetan Buddhist mind training under the auspices of the Private Office of H. H. the Dalai Lama and the Mind and Life Institute.  He has served on the Mind and Life Program and Research Council and been a frequent faculty member at the Mind and Life Summer Research Institute.

Dr. Saron is Principal Investigator of the Shamatha Project, a multidisciplinary investigation of the effects of long-term intensive meditation on physiological and psychological processes central to well-being, attention, emotion regulation and health. It was conceived with and taught by Alan Wallace in collaboration with a large consortium of researchers at UC Davis and elsewhere.  Recently Dr. Saron and his team were awarded the inaugural Templeton Prize Research Grant in honor of H. H. the Dalai Lama to continue work on the Shamatha Project.  Dr. Saron’s other research area focuses on uni- and multisensory processing in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). These studies use electrophysiological and behavioral methods to better understand individual differences in how these children experience their everyday sensory environments. 

In new research, in collaboration with Elissa Epel, Will Kabat-Zinn, Teresa LaMendola and colleagues at UCSF, Dr. Saron is combining these strands of work, exploring how mindfulness-based interventions can ease the chronic stress of mothers of children with ASD in ways that may be beneficial for the whole family system and contribute to a lessoning of difficulties for the affected children.


Oumar Farouk Sesay.jpg

OUMAR FAROUK SESAY is the son of Alhaji Alhusine Sesay and Haja Oumou Kultum Sesay.  He was born in Masingbi in the tonkolili district in 1960,he attended the Government secondary school for Boys in Magburaka and later studied political science and philosophy at Fourah Bay College University of Sierr Leone.

Sesay was resident playwright of Bai Bureh Theatre in the '80s.  He has written several plays and serves as a columnist for several newspapers.  He has been published in many anthologies of Sierra Leonean poets, including Lice in the Lion's Mane, Songs That Pour the Heart and Kalashnikov In the Sun.  His first volume of poems, Salute To The Remains of a Peasant was published in 2007 in America.

He was Cadbury Visiting Fellow in 2009 at the Centre for West African Studies in the University of Birmingham.  He is currently working in the private sector-general manager of his own company.  He has been recently appointed by his Excellency President Ernest Bai Koroma as chairman of the newly established board of the National Youth Commission.  His first novel Portrait on a Rock will soon be published.  He is married with two daughters.


Krista Tippett

KRISTA TIPPETT is a Peabody Award-winning broadcaster and New York Times bestselling author. She is the host and Executive Producer of On Being. In 2014, she received the National Humanities Medal at the White House for “thoughtfully delving into the mysteries of human existence. On the air and in print, Ms. Tippett avoids easy answers, embracing complexity and inviting people of all faiths, no faith, and every background to join the conversation."

Krista grew up in Oklahoma, the granddaughter of a Southern Baptist preacher. She studied history at Brown University and went to Bonn, West Germany in 1983 on a Fulbright Scholarship to study politics in Cold War Europe. In her 20s, she ended up in divided Berlin for most of the 1980s, first as The New York Times stringer and a freelance correspondent for NewsweekThe International Herald Tribune, the BBC, and Die Zeit. She later became a special assistant to the U.S. Ambassador to West Germany.

Krista left Berlin in 1988, the year before the Wall fell. She lived in Spain, England, and Scotland for a time, then pursued a M.Div. from Yale. When she graduated in 1994, she saw a black hole where intelligent coverage of religion should be. As she conducted a far-flung oral history project for the Benedictines of St. John's Abbey (pdf) in Collegeville, Minnesota, she began to imagine radio conversations about the spiritual and intellectual content of faith that could open imaginations and enrich public life.

In 2007, Krista published her first book, Speaking of Faith. It is a memoir of religion in our time, including her move from geopolitical engagement to theology and the cumulative wisdom of her interviews these past years. Her book, Einstein's God, illustrates some of the important ways the program and her vision have continued to evolve.

Krista's two children are at the center of her life. She also loves cooking for her children and their friends, radio plays, beautiful writing, great science fiction, cross country skiing, and hot yoga.