October 24, 2010, 9:16 pm
The Iranian government will prevent universities from opening new departments in 12 disciplines deemed to be too Western and therefore in conflict with Islamic principles, a senior education official said on state radio on Sunday, the Canadian Press reported. Existing programs in the restricted subjects, which include law, philosophy, management, psychology, political science, women's studies, and human rights, will be revised to make their content compatible with Islamic teachings, and the official said he expected up to 70 percent of existing programs to be revised over the next few years.
According to Reuters, more than half of Iran's 3.5 million university students study the social sciences and humanities, and the announcement on Sunday followed previous indications that the government was planning to halt what it views as a deeply problematic trend that helped to fuel the protests in the aftermath of last year's disputed presidential election.
The move is likely to intensify objections from some academics to the decision by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization to hold this year's celebration of World Philosophy Day in Tehran. The New York Times reported that a number of academics around the world have urged a boycott of the November 18 event, saying that by holding it in Iran, Unesco risks allowing the event to become "a propaganda exercise for a brutal regime."