The University of Southern California announced last week it will launch phase two of its three-phase Iranian studies initiative, which will introduce a minor in Iranian Studies to create a more diverse learning experience for students.
The university is currently in the process of hiring new faculty as they look to expand the program through fundraising and individual donations.
The USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts & Sciences, in collaboration with the Farhang Foundation, an Iranian-American foundation in Southern California, launched the Iranian studies initiative in November 2010 by offering Persian language classes.
"This initiative was the first program of its kind at the university, aiming to add Persian language classes to the curriculum and to create a specialization in Iranian Studies at USC," said Haleh Emrani, an associate professor of Persian and chair of the Iranian Studies Council at the Farhang Foundation.
Haleh said that familiarity with Iranian history and languages will not only provide students with a deeper understanding of world issues but will also give them insight into an ancient and rich culture.
"We truly believe this program will enrich students' college experience and widen their worldview, while providing them with valuable skills that are high in demand in the realm of international relations and diplomacy," Emrani said.
Kevin Van Bladel, director of the Middle East studies program at USC, said the initiative in Iranian specialization is particularly important to USC, its students and the community because there are more Iranians living in Los Angeles than in any other city outside of Iran.
"USC's Iranian studies initiative reflects the interests of students and the community," Van Bladel said. "The initiative is suitably timed as it coincides with another initiative, the founding of the Middle East Studies Program at USC."
Last year USC hired its first Persian-teaching instructor, Peyman Nojoumian, associate professor of Persian studies, who began teaching this fall.
Elaine Baran, a junior majoring in sociology, said she has great interest in the Iranian Studies program and would consider taking a course next semester.
"Learning about cultures and languages outside of your own will not only give you insight into the different worlds around you, but it will also help you appreciate it," Baran said. "I am excited that there will be a new minor offered in this field."