Professor Farid Senzai

As millennials, we have the power to make a big difference in our world. It’s easy for us to get caught up in our own lives and forget that there’s so much going on in the world beyond what we see or read about in the news. With the help of professors like Farid Senzai and other role models, we are beginning to widen our views and expand our knowledge.

In addition to teaching, Professor Senzai has been involved in the realm of policy making and foreign policy for over 15 years. Some of his work has influenced the way the United States engages with Muslim societies and individuals in the United States and abroad.

After graduate school he got involved in Washington D.C. and started working with different organizations. Eventually he built his own think tanks that work to educate the public about engaging with Muslim communities and individuals locally and globally. He built the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding and the Center for Global Policy with the mission to look at pressing issues impacting U.S. relations with countries that have a Muslim majority. ISPU was established soon after 9/11 and it quickly grew into a major institution.

Through his work and organizations, Professor Senzai’s goal is to address the issues he cares deeply about, like tensions that exist between Muslims and Non-Muslims that lead to animosity, violence, terrorism and wars. His work brings together people who have a deep understanding of what’s happening in the world and gives them an outlet to explain these complex situations to policymakers and the general public. Professor Senzai’s work also allows our government to make better-informed decisions about foreign policy.

Taking one of Professor Senzai’s classes makes you realize just how educated and informed he truly is. It’s an honor to be taught by a professor who could be working full-time in the private sector, but instead chooses to dedicate his time to teaching the next generation while saving the world on the weekends!

Professor Senzai said that one of his most memorable moments was delivering an address to heads of state, global leaders, and thousands of guests at the United Nations for the UN’s 50th anniversary (!!!).

Professor Senzai’s work has taken him all over the world, but his favorite place is Istanbul, Turkey.  It’s a very special place for him because he said it allows him to bring these two parts of his own world into one city, a city that itself comes from a mix of these two worlds. He added, “Being somebody who deals with East/West issues, you go to a city like Istanbul that’s in the East and in the West, literally right in the middle. There’s so much about it that’s so Western, and there’s so much about it that’s so Muslim.”

His advice to students interested in working in foreign policy is, “This is a vast space with lots of different areas that one can focus on. It’s about finding the area that you’re most interested in, becoming good at it, spending a lot of time studying it, and then trying to explain it to others. If you can do that well, you will do very well in the policy world.”

Now more than ever, we have the potential to influence those around us. We have to decide whether or not to use this potential to actually make the change that needs to happen. Professor Senzai inspires his students to use knowledge to promote understanding. Gandhi once said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Professor Senzai’s work embodies this quote as he promotes peace and cooperation in our world, especially during this time when we need it the most.