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HomeCommunity RelationsIranian-born Nobel Peace Laureate Shirin Ebadi to Speak at Youth Peace Conference

Iranian-born Nobel Peace Laureate Shirin Ebadi to Speak at Youth Peace Conference

Belmont University partners with STARS for Mid-South PeaceJam

In an extraordinary joint initiative, Iranian-born Nobel Peace Laureate Shirin Ebadi will speak at a free, public event Friday night, January 25, as part of Nashville’s first ever PeaceJam. PeaceJam is built around leading Nobel Peace Laureates who work personally with youth to pass on the spirit, skills and wisdom they embody. The goal of PeaceJam is to create young leaders committed to positive change in themselves, their communities and the world. To reserve free tickets for the Friday night event, visit

Shirin Ebadi said, “PeaceJam is an amazing program that really changes the lives of young people, and I am looking forward to working side by side with Belmont students and hundreds of high school age youth from across Nashville and the state. I learn so much from working with these inspiring youth leaders—whether they are in my country of Iran or here in Nashville—who are doing projects to address real issues in their communities from bullying and violence to cleaning up the environment.”

Belmont University is partnering with locally-based nonprofit Students Taking a Right Stand (STARS) to be the PeaceJam Mid-South affiliate, which includes Tennessee, Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas and Kentucky. The Jan. 25 talk, to be held in the Curb Event Center, opens a weekend-long conference expected to draw more than 250 college, high school and middle school students to explore issues of peace, violence, social justice and oppression with a community service component.

Dr. Mimi Barnard, Belmont’s assistant provost for interdisciplinary studies & global education, has been heavily involved in bringing PeaceJam to Middle Tennessee. “We live in an increasingly complex geopolitical context, yet we are called to love our neighbor. We are confident that this collaboration with STARS in hosting the Mid-South PeaceJam will make a profound impact on hundreds of youth throughout the region while also inspiring future leaders of our community, our nation and our world.”

STARS CEO Rodger Dinwiddie added, “We’re excited to see hundreds of young people experience this life-changing event and be inspired to tackle tough issues ranging from breaking the cycle of violence and bullying to ending racism and hate. Having Shirin Ebadi as our Nobel Peace Laureate for the inaugural year is a tremendous honor and a timely appearance given the ongoing global issues impacting women and children’s rights.”

The currently exiled Ebadi will be in Nashville for the weekend for PeaceJam, where she will work with Belmont and STARS students on a global issue empowering students to return to their schools and community with initiatives for change. In addition to workshops and team building exercises, students will participate in a variety of service projects during the weekend, including volunteer efforts with the East Nashville Cooperative Ministry, Nashville Rescue Mission, Room in the Inn and Feed the Children, among others. Students are participating from across the Middle Tennessee area, Missouri and Illinois as well as these STARS school programs:

County/Schools Attending

Davidson – Pearl Cohn, Glencliff, Maplewood, Wright Middle, GraMar Middle and Jere Baxter Middle

Rutherford  – Seigel High

Sumner – Beech, Hendersonville, Portland, Gallatin and Station Camp

Williamson – Brentwood High, Fairview, Franklin and Heritage Middle

Since its launch in 1996, more than 600,000 youth have participated in the PeaceJam program, creating and implementing almost one million service projects. Over 150 PeaceJam youth events have taken place in over 10 different countries throughout the world.  PeaceJam has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize seven times.

About Shirin Ebadi
Shirin Ebadi is an Iranian lawyer and activist who received the Nobel Prize for Peace in 2003 for her efforts to promote democracy and human rights. She was the first Muslim woman and the first Iranian to receive the award. After the Islamic republic established power in Iran in 1979, she personally struggled for her own civil rights. She has written several books on the subject of human rights.

A nationally recognized and evidenced-based resource for student assistance, training and professional consultation, STARS assists students, families and schools with prevention, intervention and treatment services addressing bullying, substance abuse, violence, and social and emotional barriers to success. Founded in 1984, STARS staff operate in schools and community sites throughout Middle Tennessee via STARS Specialists, Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services as well as through Youth Overcoming Drug Abuse (YODA) as a licensed alcohol and drug out-patience treatment facility. Their Kids On The Block puppetry program helps educate kindergarten through sixth grade students about health and social concerns that affect their lives while promoting an understanding and acceptance of all children and adults regardless of their differences. For more information, visit

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