Higher Education Center of the Iranology Foundation

Introduction

The land of Iran, as witnessed in history books, has served as the permanent home to one of the richest and most ancient civilizations of the world and has continually stood firm and strong in the face of challenges for more than 12,000 years. The brilliant impacts of Iranian culture and civilization are clearly visible in different forms over a vast geographical area. Evidently, with such a background in civilization, the true history of Iran is not limited to an account of military and political victories and periods of dominance. Rather, Iranians feel honored for the victories they have attained in the course of history in developing and expanding human civilization and culture. Accordingly, they are always proud of their cultural background and ancient civilization because they have a history as long as the history of humanity. The Iranian culture and civilization have not been developed by tyrants and wealthy people; rather, they have been created over thousands of years by men and women who have always kept the fire of their knowledge and culture burning in the face of the storms of events and then transmitted it with a more shinning light and greater flames to the generations following them.

Definition of Iranology

The question of the nature of Iranology has occupied the minds of researchers and people interested in the domain of Iranian studies since long ago. Accordingly, each of them, relying on their own field of knowledge (history, geography, linguistics, literature, sociology, public culture, customs and traditions, art, archeology, anthropology, ethnography, etc.) has tried to provide an answer to this question. Perhaps, the history of this question in Iran does not extend beyond 100 years; however, another important question which always arises alongside the one given above is whether "Iranology" by itself could be explored as an independent scientific discipline.

Some researchers are against the idea of Iranology as an independent field because it is a combination of various disciplines in the domain of human sciences. On the other hand, the issues related to Orientology and, following it, Iranology entered the dialogs, theoretical exchanges, and writings of western and European scientists and researchers only about two centuries ago. Therefore, a new discussion which emerges alongside the definition of Iranology in scientific communities focuses on the definitions that foreign Orientalists provide in response to this question. In other words, there are two national and international definitions for this term, which noticeably adds to the existing ambiguities in this regard. Nevertheless, from a synthesis of the ideas of the authorities in the field of Iranology, the following conclusion can be derived:

Iranology is the scientific study of the regions which comprised a unified country called Iran in ancient times. These studies are carried out with the purpose of learning about the cultural and social manifestation of Iran as well as reconstructing the weft and woof of its damaged cultural features. Hence, Iranology can be considered to be a scientific discipline regarding Iran and Iranian-habited regions in the world in which research is conducted based on the methods and approaches employed is scientific studies and inquiries.

Many of the Iranian ethnic groups living in different regions in West Asia share some Iranian languages, dialects, traditions, and customs. They also share several features of their historical and cultural background with the people living in Iran. Moreover, since long ago, Iranian culture and civilization has exercised a great and profound influence over such regions, the manifestations of which are observed in several instances in different places.

Therefore, the definition of Iranology embodies the study of all identifiable aspects and features of Iran, such as its historical, cultural, ethnic, linguistic, religious, political, geographical, etc. characteristics in societies and communities where the Iranian culture is prevalent.

Necessity of Launching the Iranology Course

Launching the Iranology course provides the context for studying the fields related to Iranian culture and civilization. The cultural and scientific world of today is well aware that the Iranian culture and civilization are much greater and more extensive than what one can expect from those of other nations in the world. The Iranian culture has always enjoyed various universal features and has never been limited to the racial and geographical borderlines of this country. Unlike many other great civilizations and cultures, such as those of Egypt, Mesopotamia, India, and China, it has always aimed to mix the selected features of the various eastern and western cultures and civilizations in conformity with the supreme geographical status of Iran and, as a result, create a culture beyond the Iranian culture, that is, the human culture, and introduce it to the world.

The launching of the Iranology course paves the way for young Iranologists to become involved in studies on Iran. Moreover, it provides an appropriate context for various Iranology centers in Iran and in the world to improve their studies in this regard. In this way, there will be a great opportunity for promoting more extensive cooperation and joint studies between Iranian and non-Iranian Iranologists. As a result, the Iranian-Islamic culture will be spread all over the world in a more uniform fashion.

Purposes of Launching the Iranology Course in the Country

Presently, with the demise of the most prominent western and Russian Orientalists and Iranologists, the Orientology centers of western countries and Russia are empty of distinguished scientists in these two fields. Now, it is the right time that the chairs of Orientology and Iranology come back to their original cradle, that is, the East and, particularly, to the land of Iran.

The great need felt in this regard is related to a bitter historical reality; it reminds us how several Orientalists and Iranologists came to Iran in the form of political, trade, tourist, military, etc. groups from the Safavid period onwards. Unfortunately, through extensive studies and research, they identified all the cultural, historical, political, social, economic, and geographical basic principles and features of our country and, in this way, paved the way for the colonial and tyrannical presence of their governments in our country and the other countries of the region for a very long time.

Fortunately, in the recent decades scientists and researchers in Iran and in some of the countries of the region have made great attempts to grant a real and non-colonial meaning to the science of Orientology and, particularly, to Iranology. They are trying to introduce it as a scientific discipline studying "Iran and Iranian-inhabited regions in the world" and encourage those who are interested in Orientology and Iranology to make them their objects of evaluation and study.

However, the attempts made in this regard so far have never been sufficient. One of the factors that has deprived the science of Iranology of optimal dynamism and growth in the country is the existence of numerous scientific centers which perform parallel activities in this field. Hence, it is suggested that, through a principled and strategic coordination process, all the inquiries, studies, instructional activities, and discussions in relation to the science of Iranology are relegated to the Iranology Foundation. Presently, this Foundation intends to increase and develop its affiliated educational centers. Moreover, by increasing the student capacity of its MA and PhD courses in the field of Iranology and relying on its scientific resources, it aims to provide the necessary conditions for gradually rendering this research and scientific Foundation into the main center of Iranological studies at an international level and lead all the scientific-research endeavors in this regard in the world.

So far, several universities in the world have launched the Iranology course at the MA level. However, a great need is still felt for establishing "faculties of Iranology and regional Studies" in other scientific centers of the country. If the educational curricula of these centers are designed through coordination with the Iranology Foundation, more desirable outcomes will certainly follow.

MA and PhD Sub-Disciplines of Iranology Programs

Given the depth and breadth of the discussions and courses in the field of Iranology and the necessity of having parallel access to all the related skills and expertise, a collection of congeneric courses, each directing the students in a particular specialty, will be designed and offered to them in the form of a sub-discipline. In this way, the applicants can choose one of the collections based on their interest and abilities to further their studies.

At the MA level, each of the sub-branches is related to a specific theme. Evidently, the topics of students’ theses must be related to the courses embedded in the chosen sub-branch. The courses in each sub-branch comprise 12 specialized units, eight of which are obligatory and four of which are optimal.

MA Sub-Disciplines

1. General Iranology

2. Iranology- Culture, people, customs, traditions, and cultural heritage

3. Iranology- History

4. Iranology- Principles of paleography, repair of manuscripts, and manuscript decoration and layout

PhD Sub-Disciplines

- Iranology

Duration and Nature of the Programs

The MA period, including the theoretical courses and practical and research activities, as indicated in the MA Educational Bylaw approved by the Ministry of Science, Research, and Technology, lasts a maximum of two and a half years, and the courses are offered in units. Each theoretical course is offered in 16 hours, practical courses in 32 hours, workshop courses in 48 hours, and internships in 64 hours in an academic half year or semester. The time and duration of research activities, meetings, and academic and educational trips are determined by the Higher Education Center under the supervision of the Higher Education Council.

The PhD degree course, as indicated in the PhD Educational Bylaw approved by the Ministry of Science, Research, and Technology, lasts a maximum of four years. All the courses are offered in units. The time and duration of research activities, meetings, and academic and educational trips are determined by the Higher Education Center under the supervision of the Higher Education Council. The students whose MA degrees are not related to Iranology have to pass some remedial courses as determined by the Higher Education Council.

Roles and Capabilities of Graduates

Undoubtedly, executing any program demands the presence of expert professionals with specialized skills and views and, in many cases, interdisciplinary knowledge. If the purpose is to grant the discipline of Iranology its main place in the educational system and, then, expand it following the correct path, it is necessary to have access to expert and efficient human resources. Such resources can consist of Iranology graduates. They can be the most important means of introducing Iranian culture and art and Iranology in general and disseminating this field in and out of Iran. While following the purpose of familiarizing the world with Iran, they can present their academic services as researchers and teachers in research centers, universities, and higher education institutes. They can also attend the country’s cultural centers abroad as missionaries of the culture of Iranology, serve as experts in tourism centers, provide cultural and social management services in the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, Ministry of Interior, and other organizations, institutes, and state and private sectors whose activities are in a way related to Iranology as middle or executive managers.