Visiting Scholars Bring Diverse Perspectives to EMU

Amir Akrami Ph.D. and Sheida Shakouri Rad Ph.D. are visiting professors from Iran, teaching different classes this semester.

Amir Akrami Ph.D. and Sheida Shakouri Rad Ph.D. are visiting professors from Iran, teaching different classes this semester.

This school year EMU has the opportunity to diversify their educational experiences by taking a class, going to the coffee houses, or communicating with two visiting Iranian scholars.

Amir Akrami, Ph.D., and Sheida Shakouri Rad Ph.D., husband and wife, are visiting professors from Tehran, Iran. Supported by a grant from the Henry Luce Foundation, Akrami and Shakouri Rad split a full-time faculty position at the EMU Center for Interfaith Engagement.

The professors are the first visiting scholars at the Center for Interfaith Engagement. Akrami and Shakouri Rad both arrived at EMU during last spring semester.

They are both at EMU for a full year teaching various courses on Islam and contemporary issues in Iran.

Akrami received his Ph.D. from McGill University in Canada, and is teaching Introduction to Islam this semester. Shakouri Rad received her Ph.D. in Islamic Studies from the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom, and is currently teaching Women in Islam.

The two professors will teach again in the spring. Akrami will teach Islamic Spirituality and Shakouri Rad will teach Women, Politics and Islam in Iran.

Both will also co-teach a course in the spring called Comparative Monotheisms. In addition to educating graduate and undergraduate students, community members may audit a class by contacting the Center for Interfaith Engagement. There are five community members auditing Shakouridad’s Women In Islam class.

Akrami and Shakouri Rad have begun a series of monthly conversations in Common Grounds. The topics revolve around the politics, lifestyle, history, and culture of Iran.  They will offer a unique and first-hand look into life in Iran, a place unfamiliar to many of us.

Last Thursday, they held their first presentation on the politics of Iran. They gave a background of the recent presidential election in Iran two months ago. They also discussed what transpired in the election, the different political wings represented, and the election’s outcome.

The talk covered the domestic and international implications of the presidential election, specifically the impact of the election on U.S./Iran relations.

Akrami spoke at length on the history of the Iranian politics saying, “I’m not sure if I can get everything in Iran straight because not everything in Iran is straight with the complicated history. I don’t think even an Iranian can even claim to have a full grasp of what’s going on in the country.”

Shakouri Rad spoke on the viewpoints held by the people of Iran during election times and the difficulty in deciding whether to vote or not. “People were not sure whether their votes would count or not. People were politically depressed,” said Shakouri Rad.

There were quite a few community members present at the coffeehouse, as well as a few EMU students. The presentation was followed by many questions asking the professors to share their personal opinions on the many aspects of Iranian politics.

If you missed this coffeehouse presentation you will have other chances to hear the professors speak.

Akrami is an expert on the Persian poet, Rumi and he will be leading bi-weekly readings and discussions on Rumi starting on Sept. 18th the Northlawn Lounge.

Everyone is welcome to attend this event.

-Mariah Elliot, Staff Writer; photo credit, Alicia Calkins

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