Ahimsa and Sustainability Conference, November 12-13, 2010
Speakers and Panelists

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ELIZABETH ALLISON, a scholar of religion and ecology, is an assistant professor in the Philosophy, Cosmology and Consciousness program at the California Institute of Integral Studies, where she teaches courses that take an integral approach to ecological studies, uniting the biophysical and social sciences with the humanities to explore worldviews as they relate to the environment.  She received her PhD in Environmental Science, Policy and Management from the University of California, Berkeley. She also holds a Master of Arts in Religion from Yale Divinity School, and a Master of Environmental Management from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.  Dr. Allison's doctoral dissertation examined the role of religious and spiritual discourse and practice in environmental action through case studies of natural resource management in the eastern Himalayas, where she lived and conducted field research for more than two years.  

Currently, she is working on a book on sacred natural sites and their role in biodiversity and cultural conservation.  Other research interests include environmental ethics, political ecology, the politics of knowledge, biodiversity conservation, and climate change.

RANDALL AMSTER teaches Peace Studies at Prescott College, and serves as the Executive Director of the Peace & Justice Studies Association.

His most recent books include the co-edited volume Building Cultures of Peace: Transdisciplinary Voices of Hope and Action (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009) and Lost in Space: The Criminalization, Globalization, and Urban Ecology of Homelessness (LFB Scholarly, 2008).

Professor Amster writes on environmental and social justice issues for outlets including Truthout, Common Dreams, and the Huffington Post.

SUSANNA BARKATAKI A 2005 fellow of the Ahimsa Center, Susanna Barkataki continues works in Human Rights and Social Justice education empowering young people in Los Angeles.

Currently she teaches at Sequoyah School in Pasadena.  She is a member of Tribe of the Diasporas, a multi-racial think and action tank in Los Angeles area.  She is passionate about melding this ancient Indian science of life with our modern educational practices. Ms. Barkataki has recently been volunteering in small village schools in India where she brings her passion for meditation, yoga, compassion and practical Gandhian models of education together while learning from and training teachers and students.  Her lifes mission is to bring healing to herself and every person, animal and ecosystem she encounters.

LIBUSE BINDER is the author of  Ten Ways to Change the World in Your Twenties. In her book, Binder provides a timely roadmap for individuals looking to make a difference — from eating locally and reducing waste to starting a nonprofit organization or finding a career dedicated to helping others.

After working in film production immediately after college, Binder left an ambitious career in Hollywood to make a difference in the lives of the next generation. Through her experiences  as a writer, teacher, and environmental activist, she has grown to believe in the powerful potential of this next generation to affect the world in revolutionary ways. 

Binder's work has also appeared in  Weekly Way Earth911 Worldchanging Green  Collar Earth , and Fit Yoga magazine.

CHRISTOPHER KEY CHAPPLE is Doshi Professor of Indic and Comparative Theology at Loyola Marymount University.  In addition to his publications on Indian religions, Professor Chapple has published several books on the emerging field of religion and ecology, including: Yoga and Ecology: Dharma for the Earth (2009); Yoga and the Luminous: Patanjali's Spiritual Path to Freedom (2008); Jainism and Ecology: Nonviolence in the Web of Life (2002); Hinduism and Ecology (2000), and Nonviolence to Animals, Earth, and Self in Asian Traditions (1993).

He edits the journal Worldviews: Global Religions, Culture, and Ecology (Brill) and serves on the advisory boards for the Forum on Religion and Ecology (Yale), the Green Yoga Association, and other organizations.  


NADJA FURLAN is a Research Associate at the Science and Research Centre of Koper, and Assistant Professor of Religion in the Dept. of Philosophy at University of Primorska, in Slovenia. Her research interests include Eco-feminist Theology and the contemporary ecological crisis.

She received her PhD (2005) in theology and women religious studies from University of Ljubljana, Slovenia. She received a Fullbright research grant for the 2008-09 academic year ( University of Berkeley).

Her publications include two scientific books: Manjkajoče rebro: ženska, religija in spolni stereotipi (The Missing Rib: Woman, Religion and Gender Stereotypes), Annales, Koper, 2006 and Iz poligamije v monogamijo (From Polygamy to Monogamy: Inculturation of the Christian Marriage into Zambian Culture), Znanstvena knjižnica 17, Ljubljana, 2008.

She also edited a special issue of the journal Poligrafi, Ženske in religija (Women and Religion), Nova Revija, Ljubljana 2007.

During the war in Kosovo, she worked for two months as a volunteer in a refugee centre in Drac, Albania.


NAJWA GADAHELDAM is an industrial development officer at the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in Vienna Austria. She is responsible for developing and implementing projects and programs on Sustainable Development, Climate Change, Industrial Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy for rural development. She served as the first Chair of UN Energy Africa and is an active member of UN Energy Global. Her UN work focuses on Sustainable Development and critical challenges such as poverty alleviation, climate change, energy and water conservation and education.

She is a leading author of the book: Energy for Sustainable Development-Policy Options for Africa, as well as of the White Paper "Darfur - Making Peace Not War: A Human Rights Perspective."

Ms. Gadaheldam has also served as the Vice President of the Staff Council-UNIDO.

KATHLEEN J. GODFREY is Director of Product Development and Chief Editor at the Environic Foundation International, where she has worked since 2000.

At EFI, she co-designed, co-authored and edited Sustainable Societies–Africa, a course for use throughout African universities in partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and developed pedagogical philosophy and training materials for Sustainable Societies SM, a program for global, regional and local sustainability education for use in college and professional settings. She is also a consultant to various organizations on projects ranging from communication efforts about social innovations to federal initiatives on renewable energy.

In all of her work, Ms. Godfrey motivates audiences to improve their world by emphasizing the social and ecological benefits of ethical decision-making and nonviolent action in all aspects of life. She earned her Bachelor of Science from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and her Master of Arts from the European University Center for Peace Studies, and lives in Washington, DC .  

FARAH GODREJ is assistant professor of Political Science at the University of California-Riverside.  She received her Master's degree in International Relations from the University of Chicago in 1998, and her Ph.D. in political theory from Georgetown University in 2006. Her research interests lie in the areas of Indian political thought, Gandhian political thought, cosmopolitanism, and comparative political theory.

She has authored several articles including, "Towards a Cosmopolitan Political Thought: The Hermeneutics of Interpreting the Other," in the journal, Polity, and "Nonviolence and Gandhi's Truth: A Method for Moral and Political Arbitration," in the Review of Politics.  Her book manuscript, Cosmopolitan Political Thought: Method, Practice, Discipline, is forthcoming from Oxford University Press.  Currently she is working on the relevance of non-Western theological, moral, and political traditions to the global environmental crisis. She serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Gandhian Studies.

CHRISTOPHER GREENSLATE is an award winning educator and currently teaches at Hightech High Charter School, San Diego.

He is a co-author of On a Dollar a Day: One Couple’s Unlikely Adventures in Eating in America (Hyperion 2010), which addresses the economics of eating through a personal tale. He has been covered by TIME Magazine, The New York Times, and NPR stations nationwide. His writing has been published by Green Teacher Magazine and The New York Times. Christopher has been selected for numerous competitive university fellowships, and was most recently selected for a Department of State sponsored Fulbright-Nehru team headed to teach in India.

He is a recipient of 2009 Ahimsa Center fellowship and participated in the Residential Summer Institute for K-12 Educators on Journeys of Nonviolence: Gandhi and King.

DEWEY W. HALL is an Associate Professor of English in the Department of English and Foreign Languages at the California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. His research interests concentrate on the English Enlightenment, English Romanticism, and English Victorianism with papers presented at national and international conferences such as the University of Wisconsin, University of Victoria, Oxford and Cambridge universities.

He has articles published in Studies in Puritan American Spirituality, English Literary History, The Coleridge Bulletin, RaVon, the European Romantic Review, and the Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences. His current book project is entitled Eco-Romanticism and the Transatlantic Exchange under contract with Ashgate Press featuring the work by William Wordsworth, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and John Muir.

PADMANABH S. JAINI is Professor emeritus of Buddhist Studies and co-founder of the Group in Buddhist Studies. Before joining UC Berkeley in 1972, he taught at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London and at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He is the author of numerous monographs and articles on both Buddhism and Jainism.

His expertise in both the Jain and Buddhist texts and sources makes him a unique and rare scholar. His major publications include The Jaina Path of Purification (1979), Gender and Salvation: Jaina Debates on the Spiritual Liberation of Women (1991), Collected Papers on Jaina Studies (2000), and Collected Papers on Buddhist Studies (2001). He was honored by a Festschrift (2003) with contributions on early Buddhism and Jainism. He has been feaured in numerous forums, including in the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (UK).

Most recently, Prof. Jaini was honored with the Ahimsa Award, given by the Institute of Jainology, U.K., on the occasion of the Ahimsa Day celebration at the House of Commons, London.

MIRA KAMDAR is an award-winning author who writes in both French and English. Her books include Planet India: The Turbulent Rise of the Largest Democracy and the Future of Our World (Scribner, 2008) which has been published in over a dozen foreign editions. Her critically acclaimed memoir, Motiba’s Tattoos: A Granddaughter’s Journey into Her Indian Family’s Past (Public Affairs, 2000) was a 2000 Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers Selection and won the 2002 Washington Book Award. She is currently writing a book on Gandhi.

Mira received her Ph.D. from UC-Berkeley and has been a Senior Fellow at the World Policy Institute since 1993 and is an Associate Fellow of the Asia Society where she was a Bernard Schwartz Fellow in 2008. 

Currently she lives in Paris, France where she is affiliated with the Centre des études sur l'Inde et l'Asie du Sud under the auspices of a Fulbright senior scholars award.


SUSAN MILAN has been teaching for last fourteen years at the early elementary level in the South Whidbey Schools in Washington State.

Growing up in Detroit during the the Civil Rights movement of the l960’s instilled in her a deep purpose to work towards social justice and equity, and felt a strong need to connect with nature.

Susan received her Bachelor's degree from the University of Michigan, School of Natural Resources and Masters in Elementary Education with a concentration in Literacy from Western Washington University.

She is a recipient of several grants supporting her work in gardening, native bird study, forest exploration, and recycled music. Susan is a recipient of 2009 Ahimsa Center fellowship and participated in the Residential Summer Institute for K-12 Educators on Journeys of Nonviolence: Gandhi and King.

MICHELE MILNER is a K-8 Spanish teacher at Sequoyah, school in Pasadena. She began her career dedicated to social justice and peace movements in the human and immigrants' rights arenas, teaching hundreds of immigrants about their legal rights.

Milner views teaching children as an extension of her social justice work, striving to open students’ minds to the world around them and empowering students to live in harmony with their conscience. She is a recipient of 2007 Ahimsa Center Fellowship and the Shattuck Award for dedication to public interest law.

CHANDRAKANT PATEL is an HP Senior Fellow and Director of the Sustainable Information Technology Laboratory at Hewlett Packard Laboratories. He has been a pioneer in management of available energy as a key resource in “smart” data centers, and most recently, in application of the IT ecosystem to enable a net positive impact on the environment.

A Fellow of IEEE, he has authored numerous papers and has been granted more than 100 U.S. Patents. He has been profiled by ABC-KGO television in its Emmy Award winning series "Profiles of Excellence" for contributions to science, technology and education.

In addition to his research work, Patel has taught computer-aided design at Chabot College, and courses in thermal management at University of California, Berkeley Extension, Santa Clara University and San Jose State University.

Patel holds a BSME from U.C. Berkeley, MSME from San Jose State University, and is a licensed professional mechanical engineer in the state of California.

MEDHA PATKAR is an environmental and human rights activist who has led the struggle against the controversial Sardar Sarovar Project on the Narmada River in Gujarat, India. She founded the Narmada Bachoao Andolan (NBA, Save the Narmada) and the National Alliance of People's Movements dedicated to alternative development paradigms. She has worked in Bombay slums and tribal areas, and served on the World Commission on Dams, and on water and energy issues across the world.

Veteran of several fasts, monsoon satyagrahas on the banks of the rising Narmada, her uncompromising insistence on the right to life and livelihood has compelled the post-Independence generation in India as well as people around the world to revisit the basic questions of natural resources, human rights, environment, and development. Facing police beatings and many jail terms on the way, she continues to believe in the best of people and the democratic system.

For her numerous contributions in the areas of social justice and environmental awareness, Patkar has received national and international recognition, honors and awards including the Right Livelihood Award, the Goldman Environmental Prize, Amnesty International’s Human Rights Defender’s Award, and the BBC Green Ribbon Award.



PAUL REDEKOP is Professor of Conflict Resolution Studies at Menno Simons College at the University of Winnipeg, Canada.

Dr. Redekop has published numerous articles in sociology and peace and conflict studies. His most recent book is Changing Paradigms: Punishment and restorative discipline (2008) He is also the author of “Restorative Responses to Human Rights Violations by Peacekeepers: Enhancing Human Security?” a book chapter in Wolfgang Benedek, Matthias C. Kettlemann, Markus Mostl (eds.) Mainstreaming Human Security in Peace Operations and Crisis Management (Routlege, 2010).

PEER M. SATHIKH is an Assistant Professor at the School of Art, Design and Media of Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. A Commonwealth Scholar at the Royal college of Art, London where he obtained his Master of Design (MDesRCA) in industrial design in 1992, Peer Sathikh joined academia after 22 years as a practicing industrial designer.

Peer Sathikh’s research interests are in three areas , Experience Design, Cultural Influence on Design and Industrial Design Pedagogy Inspired by the initiative by Prof Mashelkar, the proponent of Gandhian Engineering, Peer Sathikh is looking at how a Gandhian approach to innovation can help build sustainable products and environment.

Past President of the Designers Association Singapore (DAS), Peer Sathikh is also a member of the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA), Product Design and Management Association (PDMA), USA and the Design Research Society (DRS), UK.

DARLENE SCHANFALD is Project Coordinator and Public Outreach Educator for Olympic Environmental Council’s Port Angeles (WA) Rayonier Pulp Mill Hazardous Waste Cleanup project. She has worked on environmental issues over nearly three decades at local, state and national levels. She has played a leadership role in several initiatives including community actions to halt a food radiation plant, preserve land for a state park slated for corporate takeover, stop the spraying of pesticides along her county’s roads, and insure the pollution caused by Rayonier’s seven decade ammonia based pulp mill operation is removed from soils and sediments.

Dr. Schanfald has served on Sierra Club’s Boards in the states of Mississippi and Western Washington. She also sits on Boards of several local environmental organizations in the North Olympic Peninsula of WA State. She is cofounder of the Olympic Environmental Council, and the North West Toxic Communities Coalition for EPA Region 10 nonprofit organizations, and presently serves on the Coalition’s Board.

She obtained her B.A. from UCLA, and her M.A. and Ph.D. in Social-Clinical Psychology from the Wright Institute Graduate School, Berkeley CA. She has held two postdoctoral positions, first at Brown University and the Boston VA Medical Center, and the second at the University of Oregon.

PEGGY SIA teaches at Palm Elementary school in Los Angeles County. She received her BA in Psychology and Sociology from the University of California, Irvine and MA in Education from the Claremont Graduate University.

Her interests include character education, environmental education, social justice and empowerment, and nonviolent social change. She is actively involved with her school community where she has served as the secretary for her school’s Site Council.

Peggy is a recipient of 2009 Ahimsa Center fellowship and participated in the Residential Summer Institute for K-12 Educators on Journeys of Nonviolence: Gandhi and King.


JEFF SMITH is co-founder and CEO of LUNAR, an award-winning design firms in Silicon Valley. Jeff also co-founded Nova Cruz Products, Satellite Models and, most recently, T’emogique. Under his leadership, LUNAR has become a world leader in creating successful, memorable products for the consumer, technology and medical industries.

Jeff Smith has received numerous design awards to his credit, and has been an active speaker for institutions and professional organizations such as InnoTown, MIT’s Enterprise Forum, Wharton School, Cal Poly Pomona, Art Center College of Design, Design Management Institute, Industrial Designers Society of America, and Association for Professional Design Firms.


MICHAEL TOBIAS is a world-renowned global ecologist, author, filmmaker, and explorer. He is the author of 30 books and director /producer of nearly 100 films, documentaries and T.V. series. His work has taken him to some 80 countries. He is the President and CEO of the Dancing Star Foundation, a California nonprofit public benefit corporation devoted to animal welfare, international biodiversity conservation and environmental education. Tobias is recipient of many awards and honors including the international “ Courage of Conscience Award” for his passionate commitment to animal rights, nature and nonviolence; and, the Parabola Focus Award for his long-standing body of work aimed at creating a better world.

He received his Ph.D. from UC Santa Cruz in the History of Consciousness Program. For more information, visit: www.sanctuarythebook.org ; www.hotspots-thefilm.org

GABRIELA WINQVIST Gabriela Winqvist teaches yoga in the Department of Kinesiology at The Pennsylvania State University. Prior to living in Pennsylvania, she worked in Toronto, San Francisco and Los Angeles in environmental activism, urban forestry, bicycle planning, and community gardens. She received her MA in urban planning from UCLA in 2000. Her environmental work led to her to an in-depth exploration of the history, philosophy and practice of yoga under the guidance of scholar Georg Feuerstein, in 2002 and 2003.

Gaby also teaches classes, seminars, and workshops on integrating mindfulness and asana with the cultivation of inner and outer awareness, peace, and ecological sustainability. She encourages her students to "be the peace they seek," and she strives to nurture in each student a connection between yoga practice and creating a life of meaning, peace, and sustainability".