Iranian-born journalist Eshraghi to speak Nov. 20

A native of Iran who is a former Rotary Peace Fellow and past editor of publications now banned or shut down by the Iranian government will present the keynote address for International Education Week at Western Carolina University on Thursday, Nov. 20.

Ali Eshraghi

Ali Eshraghi

Ali Eshraghi, Iran project manager for the Institute for War and Peace Reporting, will deliver a talk tentatively titled “U.S.-Iran: Reconfiguring the Middle East” in the theater of A.K. Hinds University Center at 5 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

Eshraghi’s journalism career spans more than 15 years, and he has published hundreds of articles and op-ed pieces in Persian, Arabic and English media outlets, including CNN, the New York Times, the Atlantic, the Guardian, PBS Frontline, the New Republic and Al Jazeera.

The nonprofit institute for which Eshraghi works is committed to supporting citizen journalism and media institutions to help people in parts of the world faced with conflict and crisis have the information they need to drive positive changes in their lives.

In Iran, dozens of journalists have served time in prison or been sentenced to lashings after being charged with offenses such as “anti-government publicity” and “meeting and conspiring against the Islamic Republic,” according to information from the nonprofit organization Reporters Without Borders.

John Whitmire, associate professor and head of the Department of Philosophy and Religion, said Eshraghi’s experience has given him an invaluable expertise and perspective of peace, war and conflict resolution as well as U.S. and Iranian relations.

“He is someone whose life has been committed to speaking truth to power in the interests of reforming his own community and world,” said Whitmire. “In his various vocational lives, he’s been a real exemplar of journalistic and citizen advocacy directed towards changing his own society for the better, which you can’t do unless you really uncover the ways that it is currently falling short. In his case, this has entailed a lot of risk.”

Eshraghi also serves as the chair for the Civic Institute for Advocacy and Networking and a teaching fellow in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

He is an alumnus of the Duke-UNC Rotary Center for International Studies in Peace and Conflict Resolution and was a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley’s School of Journalism and the Institute of International Studies. Eshraghi also was a research fellow at the Religion, Politics and Globalization Program at UC Berkeley. He studied political science and Islamic studies at Imam Sadiq University in Tehran.

In addition to delivering the keynote address for International Education Week at WCU, Eshraghi will speak to a philosophy and religion class about his experience of religion inside and outside of Iran; an English class that has read “Persepolis” about life in Iran; and to journalism students about his career and what it takes to succeed.

WCU’s Office of International Programs and Services partnered with the Department of Philosophy and Religion to make Eshraghi’s visit and address at WCU possible.

Other IEW events include an open house at International Programs and Services in Room 101 of the Cordelia Camp Building on Monday, Nov. 17, from 4 to 5 p.m.; a performance of traditional dances and music of the Polynesian Islands by the Polynesian Paradise Dancers in the Grandroom of the University Center at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 17; and a soccer game in which the international students will play WCU’s club soccer team on Wednesday, Nov. 19, at the Catamount Athletic Complex at 6:30 p.m.

For more information about IEW, contact IPS at 828-227-7494 or international@wcu.edu. For more information about the keynote address, contact Whitmire at 828-227-2636 or jwhitmire@wcu.edu.