Kingdom of Glory: From Persia to Iran (55+)

Take a 7,000-year journey through Persia, one of the world’s oldest civilizations, as we examine how it evolved over time, from kingdom to empire to the present-day nation-state of the Islamic Republic of Iran. We will consider Persian contributions to world culture, including scientific discoveries and innovations, and will explore the cultural centres of Susa, Persepolis and Isfahan, tracing the rise to glory, the fall into ashes and the struggle to preserve cultural identity.

Our journey will take us through various religious traditions as well as political upheaval and transformations. We will also listen to the music and poetry that have helped pass an age-old culture from one generation to the next.

Note: Back by popular demand, from spring 2017.

Please note that enrollment in this course is reserved for adults 55+.

Currently not available for registration.

What will I learn?

Week 1: Antiquity                                                                      

We will discover the original tribes of the Iranian Plateau, the Aryan race and their transformation into the Persian Empire. This period will highlight the rise and fall of major empires such as those of the Achaemenid, Parthians and Sassanid and their influence on the region.

Week 2: The Medieval Period

We will look at the Roman, Muslim and Mongol invasions of Persia that shaped the country’s medieval history, as Persian civilization underwent utter destruction in infrastructure and in scientific and cultural perspective. This period highlights the struggle to preserve a national and cultural identity.

Week 3: Modern Times

We will explore how European colonization and the First and Second World Wars spilled over to Persia as the discovery of oil heightened the country’s importance to foreign powers. We will see Persia transitioning to democracy, reverting to monarchy and going through the Islamic Revolution that holds power today.

Week 4: Science

We will discover Persian civilization’s scientific inventions and contributions. Various scientists will be discussed, in particular, Razi, who identified smallpox and measles and recognized that fever was a defense mechanism. We will also discuss scientific advancement and decline across several eras.

Week 5: Religions

We will explore the history of religion in Persian civilization, examining the predominant religions of Mithraism, Zoroastrianism, Islam, Sufism and Shia. The evolution of these religions and their impact on Persia and on contemporary Iran will be analyzed.

Week 6: Culture

We will reflect on the topics discussed in order to see how they have shaped the culture and identity of Persia and Iran over 7,000 years. We will listen to the music and poetry that provided a means of passing cultural values from one generation to the next.

How will I learn?

  • Lectures
  • Discussion (may vary from class to class)
  • Papers (applicable only to certificate students)

How will I be evaluated?

For certificate students only:

Your instructor will evaluate you based on an essay, which you will complete at the end of the course. You will receive a grade of “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory.”

Textbooks and learning materials

Reading material (if applicable) will be available in class. Some course materials may be available online.

If you're 55+, you may take this course as part of

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