Dornsife adds minor in Iranian studies

first_imgThis fall, the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences will offer a minor in Iranian studies through a partnership with the Farhang Foundation in Los Angeles.The establishment of the minor is part of a multiphase process to establish an Iranian studies program at USC. The first phase began last year, when the university offered its first Persian language classes.According to NPR, Southern California boasts the largest population of Iranians outside Iran, roughly 500,000. UCLA, another large Southern California school, already has a Persian studies program.“UCLA has a Persian studies major so it’s about time that USC became involved in the Persian community, especially with all the resources available around us,” Emily Zolfaghari, secretary for USC’s Iranian Student Organization, said.Zolfaghari hopes to work for Doctors Without Borders in the Middle East, where she believes her Persian language studies will help her.While support for USC’s program exceeded expectations, it was necessary for the program to expand gradually to ensure that there was a demand for the classes and support within the Iranian-American community, according to Haleh Emrani, chair of Farhang’s Iranian Studies Council.“It was important to make sure USC — which is one of the most important universities in Southern California with the largest number of Iranian diaspora students — has an Iranian studies program,” Ali Razi, chair of the Farhang Foundation Board of Trustees, said.According to Emrani, the classes received an overwhelming response.“After we established the Persian language classes and they were received well by the student body, we realized that the time was right for the second part of the process to be implemented.”Professor Hani Khafipour, who previously taught at the University of Chicago, will join the Dornsife staff this semester to teach three courses in Iranian history, arts and culture that the minor will consist of.Khafipour said he hopes to help his students change their thought processes to focus less on the differences between Iran and America that are often emphasized in the media today.“The time has come to move away from this outdated framework and obstructive perspective,” Khafipour said. “I would like to encourage my students to distance their thoughts from such attitudes, challenge their assumptions, orient their viewpoint toward finding commonalities between the countries and to think critically about how to build new ways of developing relationships.”Emrani said the third phase of the process will be the establishment of an endowed chair in Iranian Studies, which would allow for the creation of a major in the subject.Steven Lamy, Dornsife’s vice dean for academic programs, said the university is not rushing to create a major because they want to ensure that they can offer students a quality program first.“We don’t create a major unless we have the faculty expertise as well as student interest,” he said. “We’re hoping this will attract students, then eventually we can create a major.”Hootan Omidvar, a junior majoring in psychology, said he initially took classes because of his Iranian heritage. He is planning to pursue degrees in clinical psychology and business, but he enjoyed the Farsi classes so much he is considering the Iranian studies minor as well.“If I pursue clinical psychology, I could have a niche of clients that are Persian,” he said. “I could more effectively communicate with them and understand them better because understanding their language leads to a deeper understanding of them emotionally. In business, any language skill makes for a more effective entrepreneur.”According to Emrani, the main purpose behind this specific effort at USC is to bring some level of knowledge to the community at large about Iran and Iranian culture.“We’re not only bringing the two communities together and the cultures together but we’re providing a set of skills for students to participate in the global economy,” Emrani said. “If students become familiar with cultures that may not be as well-known to them, it will lead to a more compassionate world.”Follow Kate Guarino on Twitter @km_guarinolast_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *