Said_Hi_Res_026aPhoto: American University Official Celebration of Life in Honor of Dr. Abdul Aziz Said
1 September 1930 - 22 January 2021

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.  

A colorful personality, he was known, among other things, for eschewing wearing socks. He had a special flair, serving tea or coffee to all visitors (students, colleagues, and external guests) to his office, reflecting his positive, inclusive, and supportive spirit. Professor Said often cited the “giants” upon whose shoulders he stood. He was a giant, and it is our honor to carry his legacy forward. (photo & info American University)


Official Celebration of Life in Honor of Dr. Abdul Aziz Said
1 September 1930 - 22 January 2021