Statement of Ali Mirsepassi
Professor, Sociology/Middle Eastern Studies
Director, Iranian Studies Initiative,
Gallatin School of Individualized Study
New York University
Before the New York City Planning Commission
For the Public Hearing on The New York University Core Project
April 24, 2012
Dear Chair and Commissioners:
I am a faculty member at NYU's Gallatin School of Individualized Study. I am also an associate faculty member at the Department of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, an affiliated member of the Sociology Department, and a faculty member at the Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies. Finally, I direct a program in Iranian Studies. The Iranian Studies Initiative is a joint program with Gallatin School, School of the Arts and Sciences, and the Liberal Arts Studies. Many faculty members and students from different departments and programs work collaboratively on an ongoing basis and realize new programs such as ISI. We can only collaborate and create new ideas and programs because we are all located in the Washington Square campus. Our hope and plan for the future development of ISI depends on having access to more space in order to transform this Initiative into an international center for the study of Iranian history and culture. I believe this is possible with NYU 31 plan.
I teach Middle Eastern Studies at the undergraduate level at Gallatin and almost always have students from other Schools in my classes. I also teach classes at the graduate level at the Department of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies. The possibility of having students from other Schools and the opportunity to teach, attend meetings, and interact with other faculty members in the Middle East and Sociology Departments was one motivation for moving from Massachusetts to NYC ten years ago.
As director of the Iranian Studies Initiative, it is impossible to have this program at Gallatin if we are not in close proximity to the Kevorkian Center. all of our programs and events take place there. All of our events, including our academic lectures, screenings, exhibitions, film and artistic performance are open to the public and often done in collaboration with the Iranian community outside of NYU. There is a large community of Iranians living in the New York metropolitan area whom we collaborate very closely with. We are of course very limited in our capacities due to lack of appropriate space for our programs. We have planned to expand ISI and create an academic home for the program. Currently, we do not have a "physical" space dedicated to ISI. There is no space for our visiting faculty or our larger public lectures. The future of ISI depends on having access to more space in the Washington Square area and I believe that NYU31 will realize the dream we have for the Iranian Studies Initiative.
If I had only been a faculty member at Gallatin and the School was far from other Schools, it would have been impossible to create a program such as ISI. We collaborate on academic events, participate in undergraduate and graduate committees, attend faculty recruitment meetings, and many other meetings and activities. All of these collaborations require our Schools be located in very close proximity to each other.
For all of these reasons, from the point of view of my School, I strongly urge you to support NYU's plan 2031.