At the University of British Columbia, we see how education underpins society; it empowers individuals, energizes communities and creates opportunities to change the world for the better. To improve intercultural understanding and awareness among its diverse student body and the global community it serves, UBC is taking a leadership role in teaching and building research excellence in Persian language and Iranian studies. We understand that Persian culture, religion and literature continues to exert an extraordinary influence on the political and cultural world stage. This is evident in many disciplines, and we are committed to providing a permanent program that explores its legacy within history, literature, art, music, architecture, and philosophy, but we need your help to realize this vision.
“As a girl from a religious minority and who is not welcome to visit Iran (her motherland), your classes have enabled me to learn about the history of my family, where I come from, and what I have to be proud about through my heritage. This is a gift no one else has been able to give me up until this point in my life.” – Camelia Alikashan
The Department of Asian Studies in UBC’s Faculty of Arts has offered an increasing number of Persian language courses for non-heritage and heritage learners and introduced more students to the breadth of Persian language and culture. In 2011, 53 students enrolled across just six courses. In 2018, this expanded dramatically, with 278 students participating in 12 courses ranging from basic Persian language studies to the experience of women as seen through literature, film and popular culture. To underline its ongoing commitment, in 2019 the Faculty of Arts provided core funding of $100,000 per year for a tenure-track Instructor position in Persian Language and Culture to anchor the Persian language program.
Over the years, this programming has been generously supported and grown by donations from many visionary stakeholders in the Iranian Canadian community and there is now increased enrolment and interest from an ethnically diverse student body. This program is now ready for permanent establishment through endowed funding, but this will require significant leadership and philanthropic support. Help inspire students to become innovative leaders and global citizens who understand the complex background and rich history of Iran.
There has never been a better time to champion Persian language and Iranian studies at UBC.