The Role of Universities in National Awakenings

CIRS hosted a Focused Discussion by Mohammad-Javad Zarif, Vice President for International Relations at Iran’s Islamic Azad University, on September 14, 2011. Zarif spoke to a small gathering of ambassadors and embassy staff about “The Role of Universities in National Awakenings.” He argued that the recent uprisings can be attributed, in part, to the increased level of education among the youth in the region and to their growing political awareness, leading to further social demands. In order to deal with these new developments and patterns of frustrated behavior towards leadership, it is necessary to question old political paradigms and come up with new ways of dealing with public pressures. Zarif argued that the idea of globalization can no longer be challenged; we live in an interconnected world where one country's actions will affect another’s – whether within the same region or across the globe.

Zarif has had a long and illustrious career in the Iranian diplomatic corp. From 2002 to 2007, Zarif served as the Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic to the United Nations, and from 1992 to 2002 he was Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister for Legal and International Affairs.