Education

General Information

Institute

The Institute for Social Sciences & Humanities also known as Iran Academia is dedicated to academic teaching in the humanities and social sciences disciplines. The objective of the Institute is to advance rigorous learning opportunities for students interested in examining and analyzing current events and social developments occurring in Iran through the prism of the modern world.

Social Studies program

Social Studies program is an interdisciplinary master's level study program that aims to provide students with a strong foundation for understanding of social developments. Its main objectives are:

  1. Introducing students to critical thinking and writing, foundational social science theories and social science methodologies.
  2. Exposing students to more advanced approaches to examining social developments in the realm of political philosophy, sociological theory and political economy, including case study research courses in gender, social movements, human rights and good governance.
  3. Examining advanced topics in the aforementioned social studies disciplines and supervising students on planning and conducting thesis research projects.

Language of Instruction

The principal language of instruction will be Persian. However, students may occasionally opt to complete their assignments in another language prevalent in Iran subject to the availability of instructors. Students may also elect to complete their assignments in several foreign languages. The option to complete academic work in a language other than Persian will require the prior approval of instructors. Some of course related resources are in English and obviously a good command of English reading will be considered a prerequisite to admission.

Study Load

Social Studies program is a one-year study program of 60 ECTS. The Program will consist of courses valued at 7.5 European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) and a thesis of 15 ECTS. Students must at least enroll in six courses (45 ECTS) during the study program.

Study Periods

First semester is from February each year, with courses until June. Final papers are due end June. From July until August there will be no classes. Second semester is from mid August each year, with courses until mid December. Final papers are due mid Januari next year.

Curriculum

Components

The Institute offers a 12-month program in Social Studies. This Academic guide provides an overview of the program in Social Studies. The Social Studies program encompasses the following elements: Methodology, Fundamentals and Elective Courses/Tracks.

Methodology

In particular, this program will, by means of a critical approach, focus on the methodology of social science research.

Fundamentals

As Social Studies is an interdisciplinary field of study, the principle aim of the fundamental courses is to provide students with sufficient theoretical knowledge and understanding of its main underlying disciplines: critical thinking and political philosophy, sociological theories, and political economy.

Elective Courses/Tracks

The Social Studies program offers the opportunity to specialize further in a specific area of interest. A specialization consists of a) a designated set of two courses (15 ECTS s in total) that fit well together, and b) a thesis that addresses an issue, problem or question within the theme of the specialization. This means that the successful completion of two designated specialization courses alone is not sufficient for a specialization to be mentioned on the transcript. The Thesis is also part of the specialization.

Courses

Semester 1

Methodology

This course explores major epistemological and methodological approaches in Social Science research. Based on the study of a set of methods for collecting and processing qualitative and quantitative data, we examine main similarities and differences in the approaches covered.

  • Instructor
  • Saeed Paivandi
  • 7.5 ECTS

Critical Thinking

This course follows a double goal: it is simultaneously an introduction to critical thinking and the modern political philosophy. The modern reflection is essentially critical. We study the critical character of the modern thought and examine the methods and skills of critical thinking especially in the field of politics.

“Something is wrong.” The experience of wrongness is the starting point of the modern critical thought. We analyse this experience on the basis of some certain cases and try to find out how it has motivated critics and reflection.

  • Instructor
  • Mohammad Reza Nikfar
  • 7.5 ECTS

Sociological Theory

After over a century from the birth of modern sociology, sociological analysis still relies on ideas and questions posed by founders of the discipline. Much of the conceptualization of contemporary social issues is still grounded in perspectives developed by early social thinkers whose ideas shaped modern sociology. As an advanced introduction to sociological theory, this course introduces students to sociological theories of Auguste Comte, Herbert Spencer, Adam Smith, Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim, Max Weber as well as Simone de Beauvoir; discusses the above theorists’ concerns with issues of their times and places of their living; relates these theories to core controversies in the historical development of a modern society; draws out the relevance of these theories for the understanding of contemporary social issues; describes the continuing influence of classical sociological theory on sociology today; and prepares students for analyzing their own life through the application of sociological theory.

  • Instructor
  • Farzin Vahdat
  • 7.5 ECTS

Political Economy

This course is designed to allow students to have a more complete and in-depth understanding of the economic system we live in (Capitalism) and of ways in which to think of and evaluate the system. The major topics that this course will cover include introduction to a way of thinking about this formations and its problems. Emphasis will be put on economic analysis; market forces as manifested in demand and supply; analysis of economic theorizing; decision making and profit maximization by businesses in the market place; different market structures beyond pure competition; market failures and the role of the government; class conflict and class struggle. In addition, we will try and understand some basic philosophy of economics. The course also provides applications of these economic concepts to help students learn the applicability of basic economic principles to real life.

  • Instructor
  • Mohammad Reza Nikfar
  • 7.5 ECTS

Semester 2

Elective Tracks
Track 1: Social Change

Social Movements, Comparative and Historical Analysis

The course begins by introducing existing theoretical frameworks for the study of social movements, and a historical perspective on social movements in modern Iran. It will then focus on new social movements, in particular the intellectual, regional, feminist, student and global movements including Iran’s ‘green movement’. The course also provides a comparative approach to the study of social movements in different countries of the region. The role of new social actors, new media and social networks and the evolution of the position of intellectuals in social movements will be critically analyzed.

  • Instructors
  • Farhad Khosrokhavar / Saeed Paivandi / Mohsen Mottaghi / Kazem Alamdari
  • 7.5 ECTS

Gender and Social Change

This interdisciplinary course focuses on the gender dimension of social change, especially women’s role and their individual and collective actions and strategies in the social movements in general and in women’s movements in particular. To illustrate the gendered nature of social change, we will begin with a historical and comparative review of changes in women’s status, gender relations and roles, and sexuality from pre-modern to modern times. Along this review, we will explore different strategies and feminist theories that inform participation of women in various collective actions and grassroots movements of broader socio- political scale on the national, transnational and global levels. Following this theoretical, global and macro level analysis, we will focus empirically on modern Iran and study the concrete trajectory of change in women’s status and roles in not only the sphere of formal politics and institutions associated with the state, but also (on micro and mezzo levels) within the informal spheres of civil society and people’s daily lives within different social institutions such as the family, school, NGOs and local communities, literature and arts, religious and ethnic communities, work and

  • Instructor
  • Nayereh Tohidi
  • 7.5 ECTS
Elective Tracks
Track 2: Human Rights and Democracy

Human Rights: Origins, History, and Challenges

This interdisciplinary seminar-style course provides a specialized opportunity to graduate students to undertake studies at an advanced level in the field of human rights. However, the curse extends the issues and debates of human rights to the discipline of international political theory. As the main focus of analysis, this course examines the universalistic grounding, claims, and promises of the mainstream human rights discourse which has been prevailing over the world from the issuance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.

  • Instructor
  • Mahmoud Masaeli
  • 7.5 ECTS

Democracy and Good Governance

This course provides insights into the principles of democratic governance and its application in modern world. Among other things, it will discuss how the application of good governance brings respect of human rights, the rule of law and respect for civil society rights. It will also discuss how effective participation, transparency, and accountability can result in good governance. The course aims to provide an intellectual footing as well as conceptual tools necessary to understand and evaluate critical issues of democracy and good governance. Policy advocacy, implementation and evaluation well as scientific analysis are also primary topics of the course. Comparative methodology, quantitative and qualitative study of evidences from selected cases of authoritarian regimes and democratic systems will be examined throughout the instruction. Students in this course will be encouraged to work individually or in small groups to work on case studies and develop recommendations as well as discuss how best to implement those recommendations in their real case studies.

  • Instructor
  • Jalil Roshandel
  • 7.5 ECTS