Melissa Nozell is a program officer for religion and inclusive societies at the U.S. Institute of Peace. Prior to joining USIP in August 2014, Melissa spent seven months in Amman, Jordan, volunteering with several organizations, including NuDay Syria and Mercy Corps, to help Syrian refugees through humanitarian aid efforts and mediation.

She has experience conducting research on religious trends in the U.S. and Middle East through the Jordanian Interfaith Coexistence Research Center, where she focused on Arab Christian-Muslim relations and faith-based diplomacy, and the Pluralism Project at Harvard University, where she updated and composed reports for the online edition of On Common Ground: World Religions in America. She also worked as an educator in Abu Dhabi.

Her interest areas include the implications of religious identity in pluralistic societies, and the ways in which religion can be used as a tool through which to teach human rights in conflict-prevention and reconciliatory capacities, particularly in the Middle East.

Melissa holds a bachelor’s degree in Religion and Asian Studies from Colgate University, and a master of theological studies from Harvard University.

Publications By Melissa

Meeting the Global Threat to Freedom of Religion

Meeting the Global Threat to Freedom of Religion

Thursday, August 2, 2018

By: Susan Hayward ; Melissa Nozell

The first-ever ‘Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom’ demonstrated U.S. commitment to protect those of all faiths and none from persecution. For nearly three decades, USIP has supported religious peacebuilders who work courageously to advocate for the political and social inclusion of those from all faiths, including in places like Iraq, Nigeria, Burma, Sudan, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan.


Engaging Religion and Religious Actors in Countering Violent Extremism

Engaging Religion and Religious Actors in Countering Violent Extremism

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

By: Peter Mandaville; Melissa Nozell

By more fully understanding the role of religion in violent extremism and adopting a broad-based and inclusive approach to engaging religious actors, policymakers and practitioners can better advance countering violent extremism objectives. In this report, a former senior policy adviser and a USIP senior specialist explore the nexus of religion and violent extremism.

Religion; Violent Extremism

Implementing UNSCR 2250

Implementing UNSCR 2250

Friday, June 16, 2017

By: Aubrey Cox; Melissa Nozell; Imrana Alhaji Buba

In the context of UN Security Council Resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace, and Security, this report examines collaborations between youth and religious leaders in conflict-affected states. Using case studies, surveys, and interviews, it highlights the gaps, challenges, and opportunities for how religious actors and youth can and do partner effectively in the face of violent conflict.

Youth; Religion; Global Policy

To Reduce Extremism, Bridge the Government-Society Divide

To Reduce Extremism, Bridge the Government-Society Divide

Thursday, December 22, 2016

By: Palwasha L. Kakar; Melissa Nozell; Muhammad Fraser-Rahim

One after another, the women told their stories: the stigma, the repeated questioning by officials, the police anti-terrorism units following them. The women had become civic activists after losing their sons or husbands to the lure of violent extremism. They said they just wanted to make sure no one else suffered the same pain. But all the authorities could see was the relative of an extremist.

Conflict Analysis & Prevention; Violent Extremism; Religion

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