AATP Roundtable at International Society for Iranian Studies Conference 2016 in Vienna
THE CURRENT STATE OF PERSIAN INSTRUCTION AT COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES
This roundtable discusses the current status of teaching Persian and aims to tackle several issues that Persian instructors currently face. There has been an increase in the number of positions for Persian within the last decade. However, most of these are non-tenure track positions at the instructor/lecturer level with little to no job security. The outcome of this trend has short-term and long-term consequences for the profession as a whole. Firstly, instructors are forced to teach so many courses that they do not have the time to focus on their research to produce scholarly work. Secondly, in most cases, instructors are not able to mentor Ph.D. students which in turn means fewer graduates are produced within this field. The lack of institutional power of instructors leads to the weakening of Persian language and its teaching and the cycle continues. In several cases, the tenured position of a retired faculty has been replaced with a non-tenure track position. In a few cases, a tenured position of Persian language has been modified to a position in Persian and an additional language such as Arabic. We should add to this list the fact that a very limited number of positions are tenure track positions dedicated exclusively to the teaching of Persian language. Looking at the more commonly taught languages, language teaching is recognized as an academic field on its own, not as a side-kick to a primary specialty. However, the Modern Languages Association and several other national organizations have already recognized the recent problems that language faculty are facing and thus have issued advocacy policy statements such as the following: https://www.mla.org/advocacy_kit. This roundtable aims to raise awareness about these issues at many levels: at the university level, among colleagues in Iranian Studies, and also for the foundations which provide funds for such positions (and can perhaps have a stronger voice in requesting tenure line positions when granting funds to institutions). The participants of this roundtable contribute to the main theme by bringing different ideas, experiences, and hopefully solutions that can benefit and improve the current state of teaching Persian. The roundtable is thus an effort towards professionalizing Persian language teaching as an academic field and recognizing the research and scholarly work that, along with teaching, warrants tenure track lines for language faculty.
Chair: Anousha Sedighi (Portland State University)
Participants: Farmia Mostowfi (Georgetown), Latifeh Hagigi (UCLA), Haideh Sahim (Columbia), Jaleh Pirnazar (UC Berkley), Soheila Kian (UC Irvine), Peyman Nojoumian (USC), Nahal Akbari (University of Maryland), Pouneh Shabani-Jadidi (McGill), Ladan Hamedani (University of Hawaii), Sahba Shayani (Oxford)