News June 9, 2020

The Iranian Revolution

Last year, the Iranian Revolution of 1979 marked its 40th anniversary. In SPICE’s newest Scholars Corner video offering, “The Iranian Revolution,” Professor Abbas Milani discusses Iran and the Iranian Revolution, noting the influence of Iran regionally and in the United States, the significance and impact of the Iranian Revolution, and the Iranian Revolution’s causes and effects. He also emphasizes the fight for democracy throughout Iran’s history of revolutions and today.

In his lecture, Dr. Milani addresses several questions, including why Americans should be interested in Iran and the Iranian Revolution in the first place. Dr. Milani reflects, “I think we should learn about Iran, and we should teach about Iran because Iran is one of the oldest civilizations in the world. It was one of the earliest empires… If that’s not enough, Iran has been an absolutely essential part of the Middle East for the last century. Virtually everything that has happened in Iran has prefigured the developments in the region.” He continues by noting that “In the Cold War period, Iran was one of the staunchest allies of the United States. And since 1979, Iran has been one of the staunchest foes of the United States. So historically we need to understand Iran, and essentially we need to understand Iran if we are to understand what is happening in the Middle East and what has happened in the Middle East in the last 40 years.”

This video lecture was designed for high school and community college levels and is recommended for courses in world history, political science, and world affairs. An accompanying teacher’s guide includes activities that draw upon the content and perspectives from Dr. Milani’s lecture. The organizing questions that students are encouraged to consider are:

  • What is a revolution?
  • What were the successes and failures of the Iranian Revolution?
  • How did the Iranian Revolution impact or contribute to events in the Middle East, the United States, and the world?
  • How is the Iranian Revolution similar and different from other revolutions?
  • What are some of the challenges of writing about a historical event like the Iranian Revolution?

Lastly, SPICE recommends that teachers and students examine the resources available at the Hamid and Christina Moghadam Program in Iranian Studies, which is directed by Dr. Milani. Also, SPICE encourages teachers and student to visit SPICE’s Scholars Corner webpage, which features many other videos of scholars affiliated with the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI) discussing contemporary issues and research in their fields of expertise.