The Roshan Graduate Interdisciplinary Program in Persian and Iranian Studies offers MA and PhD degrees focusing on a) modern or classical Persian literature and culture or b) Iranian (or other Persian speaking societies') history, religion, social organization, and politics. The program benefits from the long tradition of Persian and Iranian studies at the University of Arizona's School of Middle Eastern and North African Studies (formerly the Department of Near Eastern Studies) which also offers undergraduate degrees focusing on Persian. The program intends to prepare graduates to work in academic, public, and private positions where extensive and expert knowledge of Iran and other Persian speaking societies such as Afghanistan and Tajikistan is required. In addition to the completion of core courses, superior language competency in Persian is expected. The Roshan Graduate Interdisciplinary Program in Persian and Iranian Studies also creates a broad forum for scholarly activities around Persian and Iranian studies on campus and in the wider community.
A Brief History of Persian and Iranian Studies at the University of Arizona
Persian and Iranian Studies at the University of Arizona has been housed in the Department of Oriental Studies, the Department of Near Eastern Studies, and most recently in the School of Middle Eastern and North African Studies (MENAS).
UA Persian and Iranian Studies has long benefited from a variety of relevant thematic courses taught by faculty with Persian and Iranian research interests. Indo-European Historical Linguistics was first offered in 1967-68, as was Islamic Literature in Translation. The inaugural year of Persian language courses was 1969. In subsequent years, and particularly after the hiring of Dr. Ludwig Adamec, a specialist in the history of Afghanistan, “History of Modern Iran and Afghanistan” was added to the curriculum. In 1972, Dr. Richard Eaton, a historian, was hired to teach Persian language and the history of Sufism, among other courses. Over time more courses related to Persian culture, history, and Iran were added to the Middle East studies curriculum with the hiring of the late geographer Dr. Michael Bonine, anthropologist Dr. Anne Betteridge, linguist Dr. Simin Karimi, Persian language and literature and Iranian culture scholar Dr. Kamran Talattof, and comparative literature scholar Dr. Yaseen Noorani.
In 2000, Dr. Talattof established a more independent program in Persian Studies within the Department of Near Eastern Studies. He received a grant for the support of Persian instruction. The library holdings in Persian also increased fourfold. The number of students increased in the following years. In 2003, Dr. Talattof received a grant from the Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute, which established and promoted graduate studies in Persian and Iranian Studies. It became one of the largest graduate programs in the nation with 18 graduate students affiliated.
In 2016, Dr. Kamran Talattof with the support of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences received a multimillion-dollar grant from the Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute to establish the Roshan Graduate Interdisciplinary Program in Persian and Iranian Studies. He founded the program in 2016-2017. It is located in the Graduate School, and it closely collaborates with other departments including MENAS and CMES, and with many faculty in other departments. The undergraduate degree focusing on Persian and Iranian studies continues to be offered by the School of Middle Eastern and North African Studies.
Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute
Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute, a US-based nonprofit foundation, sponsors educational and cultural activities that promote understanding, transmission, and instruction of Persian language and culture. The expression Roshan in Persian literally means “clear” or “bright” and its true meaning is associated with “light” connected to the concepts of clarity and enlightenment. This word embodies the guiding principle behind the Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute’s mission of addressing the importance of Persian culture and achieving understanding through education and community involvement.