UC Santa Barbara is home to more than 700 undergraduate and graduate students of Iranian heritage (born or raised in the United States), as well as many graduate students from Iran seeking MA or PhD degrees in a broad array of disciplines. The university has made a significant investment in Iranian Studies in the last decade. The Iranian Studies Initiative (ISI) was established in 2010 with support from the Duncan and Suzanne Mellichamp Endowment in Global Religion and Modernity in collaboration with the Department of Religious Studies and the Center for Middle East Studies. With a generous contribution from the Gramian-Emrani Foundation we started our conference series in 2016. Iranian Studies faculty and staff organize annual lectures, symposia, film screenings, and conferences.
Our faculty offer advanced Persian Language courses and non-language courses on Iran (and the Middle East with substantial components on Iran). More than a dozen faculty in different departments such as Religious Studies, History, Sociology, Global Studies, Feminist Studies, Music, History of Art and Architecture, and Media Studies contribute to our programs and courses in the area of Iranian Studies (See our list of affiliate faculty on this website). The program offers three levels of Persian (Introductory, Intermediate, and Advanced), as well as courses in Persian Literature. Additional courses include Modern Iranian History, Iranian Cinema, History of Shi’ism, Classical Persian Literature, Persian Folktales, Persian Literature in Diaspora, Sociology of Iran and the Middle East, and Women’s History in Modern Iran.
A majority of UC Santa Barbara’s Iranian Studies courses are offered through the Department of Religious Studies. The department focuses on the academic study of religion from multiple disciplines and a variety of methodologies. Iranian Studies students can receive an MA or PhD, or an undergraduate minor, in Iranian Studies in a number of other departments including Comparative Literature, History, Feminist Studies, Film and Media Studies, Global Studies, and Political Science.