Institute of International Education Leads Delegation to Iran


June 24, 2015, Washington, DC – The Institute of International Education (IIE) led a delegation of senior U.S. higher education representatives to Iran during the week of June 8th, with the goal of expanding educational cooperation with Iran.  After meeting with twelve Iranian universities and two research institutes in Tehran, Shiraz and Isfahan, the U.S. delegation concluded that there is significant potential for academic engagement.  The need is highest in the field of scientific cooperation on major global challenges that affect both the United States and Iran, such as water management, natural disasters, climate change, food safety, energy, and urban development.

When asked how this trip came about, IIE President and CEO, Allan Goodman, told PAAIA that when he attended newly elected Iranian President Rouhani’s speech at the Asia Society in New York City back in 2013, he heard a desire to restart people-to-people exchange on his part.

 “I sensed strong pro-diplomacy signals,” Professor Goodman explained, “and whenever there is an opportunity for open exchanges in education, IIE is there.” 

Working with PAAIA board member, Hamid Biglari, Professor Goodman met with key figures who helped facilitate this historic delegation.  IIE soon embarked on its new Higher Education Initiative, which is planning to expand educational cooperation with Iran through a multi-pronged approach that plans to follow up the delegation’s visit with activities such as bi-national conference calls, workshops for university administrators, and activities aimed at increasing exchanges of students and faculty members.

 “Historically, Iranians have been the largest international student population in the United States,” said Professor Goodman. “We believe that delegation members from both countries have obtained solid foundation on which to build scientific and educational exchanges.” 

While the IIE delegation demonstrated that there is significant interest for research and academic cooperation, more work needs to be done to build institutional frameworks that match research and exchange priorities on both sides.  IIE has prepared a white paper that will provide specific recommendations for collaboration, and will be released in July after the potential June nuclear agreement is announced.

Goodman is confident that goodwill exists on the part of both the American and Iranian people toward the goal of sharing resources and knowledge that will bring higher education institutions in the two countries closer together, with the ultimate goal of enriching the academic experiences of students, faculty and administrators. 

“My overall impression of our trip was that no image we have of Iran and the Iranian people matched the reality of our visit,” explained Goodman. “The Iranian people warmly welcomed us, told us they love America, and both kids and older people wanted to take photos with us.” 

IIE believes that its reciprocal exchange program will benefit both Iran and the United States and pave the way to more collaboration in the future.  

PAAIA supports bridge-building activities such as educational diplomacy. We believe the more the people of Iran and the United States are exposed to each other, the greater potential for mutual benefit and understanding.

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