AboutOur PeopleSabirah Mahmud
Fellow, Class of 2025

Sabirah Mahmud

International Relations, Modern Middle Eastern Studies
Philadelphia, PA

Sabirah has been involved in advocacy and social justice work from a young age. Her parents are politically active and included her in their work to bolster democratic systems in Bangladesh. She witnessed the consequences of climate change on her parent’s hometown of Noakhali, Bangladesh, and experienced personal familial tragedy and illness resulting from rising sea levels and poor air quality.

As a teenager Sabirah found her voice speaking out against Islamophobia in her predominantly white community. During high school she interned at the Penn Museum as a Teen Ambassador, engaging with other inner-city teens who were interested in topics related to Archeology and Anthropology, hosting group presentations on topics such as democracy, orientalism, and climate change. More recently, she has worked as a strategy organizer with Philly Thrive, recruiting local South Philly residents to be involved in the climate movement.

Sabirah is excited by the opportunity to develop her skills with an experiential and dialogic approach to conflict resolution offered by the SNF Paideia Fellows program.

Through facilitating respectful dialogue, I believe conversations are more effective at breaking down the barriers and allow individuals to approach civic issues with more dignity and respect for a wide range of communities.

As a SNF Paideia Fellow, Sabirah continues her advocacy work from an authentic, intersectional, and academically rigorous place. Notably, Sabirah was named the 2023 Penn Future’s Young Woman of Conservation. 

As an international relations major, Sabirah is interested in an interdisciplinary approach to global affairs and political science. She aspires to work with refugees and is taking classes that intersect with linguistics, sociology, archeology, philosophy, comparative literature, and more. She is dedicated to broadening her academic horizons for a better understanding of the world and the experiences of people from an interdisciplinary perspective. The pillars of the SNF Paideia program will help her engage with individuals from a more holistic perspective.