Dr. James E. Jennings, Founder and President
For much of the last three decades, based on a belief that acting on conscience is central to our humanity, Dr. James Jennings has responded to wars and natural disasters throughout the world and worked to improve health care and food delivery, shelter, and refugee aid in some of the neediest and most hazardous places on earth.
He has worked throughout the greater Middle East for more than 40 years, first as an archaeologist conducting excavations and surveys in Egypt, Palestine, and Iraq, and later teaching Middle Eastern history and archaeology at four universities. He studied at Chicago’s famed Oriental Institute and holds degrees from Wheaton College and the University of Illinois where he earned his PhD in history. He has been a guest lecturer at some 30 universities and taught the first course on Islamic Civilization at the American Islamic College in Chicago.
He has appeared on CNN, NBC, FOX, AND PBS and has been interviewed by many other TV and Press organizations around the world for his knowledge of the Middle East and for commentary on current headline issues wherever Conscience International sends teams.
Beginning during the siege of Beirut in 1982, and especially after Conscience International was founded in 1991, Dr. Jennings has organized and led delivery of medical aid and helped staff medical clinics following wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Sudan, and Gaza, among other places. He has led rapid emergency response teams to numerous countries in the wake of natural disasters, including Pakistan, Turkey, Iran, India, Haiti, Peru, Indonesia, and elsewhere.
Dr. Jennings has also organized and led major US Academics for Peace conferences in Iran, Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, and Sudan, meeting for dialogue at leading universities throughout the Muslim world. He has also dialogued with political and religious leaders, including presidents, prime ministers, foreign ministers and heads of parliament. US Academics for Peace is a division of Conscience International. It engages in peacemaking efforts in regions of conflict, particularly in the Middle East.
Dr. Jennings was nominated for the King Hussein Humanitarian Prize and has received awards from Russia, China, Lithuania, South Africa, Iraq and Sudan. In 2013 he received the University of Illinois Alumni Humanitarian Award. He continues to advocate for greater understanding of other cultures and increased humanitarian involvement in the developing world.
Read more about his global work and experiences on our Happening Now pages.