Event: Engaging Iran: Challenges and Opportunities for Civil Society


This forum will assess past and current efforts for improved dialogue and exchange and examine the possible roles for civil society. In this time of intensified diplomatic action, what are the opportunities and obstacles for strengthening a citizens’ dialogue and building exchanges and institutional linkages between Iran and America? What do Americans need to understand better about Iran, and vice-versa? What communication pathways and innovations in the digital era could better convey ideas and values and support long term relations? Can civil society here and abroad contribute to the protection of human rights in Iran without endangering Iranian citizens? Are there multi-lateral, as well as bilateral, avenues for contact that might prove more effective in the long run, or possibilities to explore long-term collaboration and institution building?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010
4:00 – 8:00 pm

Meridian International Center
Meridian House
1630 Crescent Place, NW
Washington, DC 20009

RSVP by April 5 to

4:00 p.m. registration

4:15 p.m. welcome remarks: Ambassador Kenton Keith, Senior Vice President, Meridian International Center, Robert Coonrod, President, Public Diplomacy Council

Introduction: Michael Schneider, Director, Washington Public Diplomacy Program, the Maxwell School, Syracuse University

Scenesetter: Mehrzad Boroujerdi, Founding Director of the Middle Eastern Studies Program and Co-Director of the Religion, Media and International Relations Program, the Maxwell School, Syracuse University

4: 30 – 6:00 p.m. Afternoon Panel: The Current Climate of Opinion: How to Strengthen the Public Dialogue

  • How Iranians and Americans perceive each other and key issues
  • The growing role of informal, digital communication
  • Ideas for strengthening the public dialogue
  • How US citizens and the Iranian Diaspora might support human rights in Iran

Moderator: Barbara Slavin, author, Bitter Friends, Bosom Enemies: Iran, the U.S., and the Twisted Path to Confrontation


Hooman Majd – journalist, speaker, author, The Ayatollah Begs to Differ: The Paradox of Modern Iran (invited)

Trita Parsi – President, National Iranian American Council

Geneive Abdo – Director the Century Foundation Iran Program, founder and editor of website www.insideIRAN.org ; co-author, Answering Only to God: Faith and Freedom in Twenty-First Century Iran

6 – 6:30 p.m. – refreshments

Evening Panel – Prospects and Problems for Exchange and Institution Building

  • Whether and How Citizens can Engage:
    • Past and Present Nongovernmental Interaction,
    • Track II Diplomacy,
    • Exchanges that have worked or merit additional effort or experimentation in different sectors, e.g. science and higher education, women’s affairs, youth, religion .
  • Obstacles to further exchange.

Moderator: Carla Koppell. Director, the Institute for Inclusive Security, Hunt Alternatives Fund (invited)


Amb. William Miller, Senior Adviser, U.S. – Iran Program, Search for Common Ground

Glenn Schweitzer, Director, Program on Central Europe and Eurasia, National Research Council, National Academies of Science

Rasool Nafisi – author, professor, Strayer University

See also:

One thought on “Event: Engaging Iran: Challenges and Opportunities for Civil Society

  1. Hello, I was wondering if there is a website with information for the forum? I could not find anything on the public diplomacy council’s webpage… thank you in advance.

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