Spencer Large Grant: A modernizing engineering education within a traditional Islamic society: A study of knowledge, learning, and identity in the early life of Sharif University of Technology, 1966-1

Project: Research project

Project Details


Sharif University of Technology is widely considered to be the premier engineering university in Iran. Its importance in the modern history of Iran, however, is also tied to its legacy of student activism and to the pivotal role Sharif students played in the 1979 Islamic revolution. Sharif was founded in 1966 by the Shah of Iran as part of a larger campaign to modernize the nation. The Shah’s modernization efforts, however, were passionately contested, particularly among those who viewed modernization as a euphemism for Westernization. In 1972, the Shah appointed Dr. Seyyed Hossein Nasr as President of Sharif. Dr. Nasr was the first-ever Iranian to graduate with a degree from MIT, and was a widely respected scholar and university leader in Iran. He also came from a prominent religious family, and was equally known and respected amongst religious circles. The Shah hoped Dr. Nasr would be just the right person to model Sharif after MIT, but with roots in Iranian and Islamic philosophical values. In this study, I draw on oral histories with key figures including Dr. Nasr, as well as archival documents, to examine how cultural, religious, and political processes shaped the formation and early development of Sharif University.
Effective start/end date5/1/214/30/23


  • Spencer Foundation (202100098)


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