Afeefa Syeed

20100106019-LAfeefa Syeed is a senior research associate with CIRIS and a senior fellow with the Institute for Global Engagement in Washington, DC. She previous served at the Senior Advisor at the US Agency for International Development (USAID) where she worked with Washington-based and field staff to develop policy, define best practices, highlight success stories, and otherwise build internal capacity and tools to frame country strategies that reflect greater expertise in engaging in dynamic cultural contexts.

Her work includes religion and development, gender inclusion, countering extremism, and integrating cultural context into development and diplomacy. For the past 25 years, she has designed and implemented initiatives and training to address engaging traditional and religious leaders and institutions, human rights, radicalization, socio-political identity, and social entrepreneurship, among other emerging issues.

She has advised the White House, National Security Council, Department of State, UN Democracy Fund, World Bank and various in-country government and non-governmental institutions in Europe, Southeast Asia, South Asia, Central Asia, and Middle East and North Africa.  Afeefa founded a model independent school whose core curriculum is peace education and civic engagement. She is a member of various interfaith, social service and advocacy organizations in the US and her involvement and community activism led her to run as a candidate for local office in 2003. She is a published writer and regular speaker on a variety of issues.

News & Events

24th Apr 2018

CIRIS Research Associate Leor Zmigrod Publishes Paper on Psychology of Brexit Voting

CIRIS Graduate Research Associate Leor Zmigrod has published a paper on the psychological processes that give rise to nationalistic ideologies in the context of the United Kingdom’s 2016 EU Referendum. The research identified cognitive information processing styles that contribute towards support for Brexit and opposition to immigration and free movement of labour. Specifically, the findings […]



21st Feb 2018

Interview: Christopher Douglas on ‘Religion and Fake News’

In January 2018 CIRIS released a fascinating new report by Prof Chris Douglas on religion and fake news. The report explores the religious dimension of fake news in both Europe and the United States and offers recommendations for how policymakers and other leaders can fight back against faith-based fake news. Christopher Douglas teaches American literature and […]


Our Work

Equipping academics

At CIRIS, we aim to equip students and scholars in Cambridge and beyond with a robust and nuanced appreciation for the role of religion in international politics that they will take with them into their future research and/or practice around the world. To this end, we host public lectures, academic seminars, and other events. We are also pursuing research projects that draw on the contributions of Cambridge-based academics.

Engaging the public

We use our platform at Cambridge to influence the public conversation on matters of faith and politics—in the UK and around the world. CIRIS enjoys strong links to key governments, media outlets, religious groups, NGOs, civic leaders, and scholars. We want our website and social media platforms to provide a dynamic space for disseminating and discussing the contributions of our staff, associates, and partners.

Supporting diplomats

CIRIS serves as the secretariat for the Transatlantic Policy Network on Religion and Diplomacy (TPNRD). We facilitate communication, coordination, and collaboration among this community of diplomats from Europe and North America who have a responsibility for religion-related issues within their respective foreign ministries. The work of the TPNRD secretariat is generously supported by the Henry Luce Foundation.

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