Iran Dialogue Initiative (IDI)

2004 Trip

Pilot Project: Iran Trip 2004

To begin understanding a country, its culture, and its people, it is important to have first-hand experiences in the country and with the people. This pilot trip will allow Tufts students to interact with Iranians from many walks of life, especially their student peers, as well as allow Iranians to interact with U.S. citizens with a broad range of interests. To this end, IDI has organized a two week trip to Iran (May 24-June 7, 2004). The first seven days will consist of a tour, including major cities such as

  • Isfahan, an ancient and picturesque city, rich in history, it has long been known for its fine carpets, hand-printed textiles, and metalwork; under Shah Abbas I, the city was embellished with many fine buildings, notably the beautiful imperial mosque, one of the masterpieces of world architecture
  • Shiraz, one of the most important cities in the medieval Islamic world and the Iranian capital during the Zand dynasty (1747-79); through its many artists, it has been synonymous with learning, nightingales, poetry, roses and, at one time, wine
  • Tabriz, Iran's fourth largest city and a commercial, industrial, and transportation center with influences from Turkey and the Commonwealth of Independent States; as well as a trip to Qom, a center of the Shiite Muslims since early Islamic times

Follow the journey of 12 students during the pilot trip to Iran from May 26 - June 7, 2004. The are six under- graduates, with majors ranging from international relations to music to community health, and six graduate students, with research emphases ranging from international communications to international conflict negotiation to international health were selected through a rigorous application and interview process.

2004 Trip Itinerary

The remaining six days of the trip will be spent in Tehran. In Tehran, students will engage in a range of activities in collaboration with the School of International Relations (SIR) of Tehran University. While still in the planning stages, some of these activities could include a Dialogue Simulation (see Appendix E) and small and large group discussions with Iranian students and faculty on such issues as Iran's national security concerns, Islamic democracy and political Islam, the geopolitics of Iran in the Caucasus, ethnic minorities and human rights, US-Iran relations. Each student's research topic will guide his or her fact-finding experience in Tehran.

Using their experiences from this trip, in the Fall 2004 semester the Tufts participants will organize on-campus events, where they will share their research findings, personal experiences, photo essays, etc. The event will also be open to universities and colleges in the greater Boston community.

Co-Founders and Coordinators

The Iranian Dialogue Initiative's co-founders are Sara Mohammadi is a recent Summa Cum Laude graduate of Tufts, who will be pursuing further studies at the London School of Economics. Negar-Sadat Razavi is a junior at Tufts majoring in Peace and Justice Studies and History. Sara is Iranian and Negar is Iranian American and both are members of NIMEP. They will be the liaisons between Tufts University and their counterparts in Iran. They will contribute to the design of the overall program and raise funds for the sustainability of the program.

The advisors are professionals and academics who have a background in Iran. They will continue to advise the coordinators on the details of activities arranged for the immediate trip.

Mohammed Alwan
Mohammed Alwan is a Lecturer in Arabic at Tufts University. He has received awards from the American Research Center in Egypt and the Social Science Research Council. His work includes Langston Hughes: Muqaddamah Wa Qasa-`Id (Langston Hughes: Introduction and Poems); Lilies and Death (Introduction to and translation of twenty-seven poems from the works of Abd al-Wahhab al-Bayati); and "Philosophy, Psychology, Commitment: Elements in Craft of Iraqi Poet Buland Al-Haydari (1926-1996)"

Professor Michael Fischer
Michael Fischer holds a joint appointment in the Program in Science, Technology, and Society (STS) and the Anthropology/Archeology Program at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology. His research focuses on social change in the Caribbean, the Middle East, South Asia, and the United States. He is author of three books: Iran: From Religious Dispute to Revolution ; Debating Muslims: Cultural Dialogues in Postmodernity and Tradition, written with Mehdi Abedi; and Anthropology as Cultural Critique: An Experimental Moment in the Human Sciences, written with George Marcus. Professor Fischer is fluent in Farsi; he and his wife will be accompanying the students on the pilot trip to Iran in May.

Awad Halabi
Awad Halabi is a Lecturer in the History Department at Tufts University. His articles include "The Nabi Musa Festival under British-Ruled Palestine," International Institute for the Study of Islam in the Modern World and "Tradition and the Tombs of the Prophet Moses: The Medieval Islamic Period," Saints and the Sacred

Stacy Heen
Stacy Heen is currently a graduate student at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and has been a coordinator for the US-Iran project at Search for Common Ground in Washington, DC.

Professor Andrew Hess
Andrew Hess is a Professor of Diplomacy and the Director of the Program for Southwest Asia and Islamic Civilization, the Contemporary Turkish Studies Program, and the Kuwaiti, Qatari, and Armenian Foreign Service Training Programs at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. His articles include "Peace and Political Reform in the Gulf: The Private Sector," Journal of International Affairs and "Cultural and Political Limits on Forward Presence in Southwest Asia," Naval Forward Presence and the National Military Strategy. Professor Hess also held executive positions in the Arabian American Oil Company in Saudi Arabia. His research interests include the impact of modern technology on Middle Eastern societies and the role of international business in the development of Southwest Asia and Central Asia.

Professor Ina Baghdiantz McCabe
Ina McCabe is an Assistant Professor of History at Tufts University. She is the co-author of Slaves of the Shah: New Elites of Seventeenth Century Safavid Isfahan, and the author of The Shah's Silk for Europe's Silver: The Eurasian Trade of the Julfa Armenians in Safavid Iran and India (1530-1750) and "Merchant Capital and Knowledge: The Financing of Early Printing Presses by the Eurasian Silk Trade of New Julfa."

Professor Malik Mufti
Malik Mufti is Associate Professor of Political Science at Tufts University. Professor Mufti teaches courses on international relations as well as the politics of the Middle East. He is the author of Sovereign Creations: Pan-Arabism and Political Order in Syria and Iraq, as well as journal articles and book chapters on the domestic and foreign policies of Jordan, Egypt, Israel, and Turkey. His latest publications are: "A King's Art: Dynastic Ambition and State Interest in Hussein's Jordan" (forthcoming in Diplomacy and Statecraft) and "From Swamp to Backyard: The Middle East in Turkish Foreign Policy" (forthcoming in The Middle East Enters the 21st Century , edited by Robert O. Freedman). He is currently working on two projects: a book on Turkish strategic culture and an investigation of war in the thought of medieval Islamic political philosophers.

Collaborating Organizations

Tufts Institute for Global Leadership, Tufts University -- The Iran Dialogue Initiative is undertaken under the auspices of the Tufts Institute for Global Leadership. The Director, Sherman Teichman, and Associate Director, Heather Barry, will advise the coordinators. Furthermore the Institute will provide the infrastructure and technological capacity for organizing the initiative projects, such as the 2004 trip and on-campus events.

The School of International Relations (SIR) -- The Department of International Cooperation in the School of International Relations in Iran will serve as the liaison between the coordinators and the government institutions in Iran. They will assist the coordinators in arranging activities in Tehran and will participate in the student dialogue simulation. SIR is affiliated with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Iran.

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