Personal Statement for Political Science

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XXXX University is my first choice among PhD programs in Political Science for a variety of reasons including your outstanding faculty, global reputation, and prime location. If given the opportunity to complete your program, I feel strongly that I will be able to realize my professional aspirations to be an academic and inspire new generations of students, as well as a practitioner with the aim of serving as an Iranian diplomat, in due time.

I want to devote my life to the cause of managing and preventing conflicts in the Middle East – and subsequently the world. While born in Iran, I had the privilege of living in Canada, and had the opportunity to attend a boarding school in Switzerland for my secondary education, helping to lay a foundation for a truly international consciousness through constant travel and interaction with people from around the world. Thereafter, I moved to the United States, attending universities at three cities across the country, further paving the way for the development of my identity as a global citizen.

Hassan Rouhani’s victory in the 2013 presidential elections in Iran brought unexpected hope and altered the trajectory of my life. While I intended to manage our family business in the area of international trade, the new era impelled me to seek a future in academia and politics. Ever since, I became deeply involved in research about Iran and focused my studies on Iranian foreign policy, nominally, the nuclear negotiation between Iran and the world powers, different facets of the relationship between Iran and the United States, as well as United States foreign policy towards the Middle East.

Following the completion of the negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program, regional tensions unexpectedly grew to a level rarely seen in the past. As my research was mainly focused on Iran’s foreign policy towards the West, in January 2016 I felt an urge to refocus my studies on the Persian Gulf and the Middle East region. My Master’s thesis, titled “Effectuating A Cooperative Future Between Iran and the Arab States of the Persian Gulf,” focused on fining ways to inhibit the escalation of current conflicts to perpetual ones, while at the same time, aims for more robust economic, social, and religious collaborations between Iran and its Arab neighbors. To broaden my audience, I translated the complete thesis in Farsi, and the Arabic version will be available early 2018.

I felt a gap in the productive analysis of the future of the Persian Gulf. The majority of the existing literature on the Persian Gulf region have focused on the importance of oil, the religious dimensions, and the proxy wars that have embroiled the Middle East as a whole. There has rarely been an analysis that differentiates Iran’s relations with its Arab neighbors, and subsequently, no blueprint exists for moving forward. I relied on the importance of understanding the merits of each bilateral relationship to better identify the past grievances, as well as the potential areas for greater cooperation.

Having heavily invested the past two years in the study of the Persian Gulf region, I feel it is only the beginning of my research in to this ever-important region, and I hope to pursue my PhD degree with a focus on Iran’s relationships with the Arab countries in the Persian Gulf and the Middle East as a whole. Furthermore, the principal question my research intends to answer is how to best formulate a regional architecture based on qualitative and quantitative methods in which the regional actors can address past grievances, and build on the cultural, religious, and economic ties that have existed for centuries. I now seek a much deeper understanding of the Persian Gulf Region from a broad variety of interdisciplinary perspective, in the ongoing search for trends in foreign policy decision makings and the opportunities that exist for dialogue and peaceful resolution of differences, and ways to secure a more cooperative future amongst countries in the region.

I feel that I am the best fit with the PhD Program at XXXX University because of both the focus and the flexibility of your program in addition to your world-class faculty. I have special admiration for the publications of Professor Daniel Corstange and it would be a special honor to learn directly from him given the fact that his main focus is on the Arab world which strongly complements my research. I also pay close attention to the research of Professor Robert Jervis who represents another potentially important resource for my dissertation.

In addition to the great faculty of the Political Science Department, it would be beneficial to take advantage of the distinguished professors at the School of International and Public Affairs. I have closely followed the efforts of Ambassador Luers to establish better relations between Iran and the United States, working through the Iran Project and its collaboration with the Atlantic Council’s Future of Iran Initiative. Additionally, it would be an especially great honor for me to develop a professional relationship with Professor Lawrence Potter whose research and practical experience dovetails nicely with my own research focus.

While I will always be Iranian, I seek to professionally serve the international community, as an academic, diplomat, peacemaker, and someone who builds bridges to the Middle East and helps to maintain them. Based on my past experiences and the need for peace in the most unstable region of the world, I feel called to build a career in the area of international relations and diplomacy, at least in part as a result of the great need that exists for negotiating and peace building between Iran and its neighbors. My sense of global citizenship and appreciation for the vast diversity of cultural and political expression has been enhanced by the fact that I have spent my life aiming for a better Iran, and subsequently its relations with the world.

During the first semester of my Master’s Program at XXXX University, I happily registered for a course titled “United States and Iran, from Conflict to Reconciliation”; and I developed a superb relationship with Professor XXXX, going on to become her Teaching Assistant for the same course as well as an undergraduate course titled “Iran and Middle East Conflicts.” I enjoy teaching and I could not be more committed to my goal of serving as a professor following the completion of my PhD program.

I feel strongly that my studies towards the Master’s Degree in International Affairs that I recently completed at American University, coupled with my experience at the Atlantic Council in Washington, as well as my work in Tehran, will help me to hit the ground running and excel in your rigorous PhD Program.

I have fresh, highly relevant professional experience that will help me to excel at Columbia University. At the Atlantic Council’s Future of Iran Initiative in Washington, where I started as an intern and was later promoted to Project Assistant, I

Ever since graduation in May 2017, I have assisted and advised several Iranian diplomats and I am currently a project assistant at the Foreign Ministry’s Institute for Political and International Studies in Tehran. Furthermore, I assisted my father in revamping our family business to better address the economic needs of Iran in the new era following the lifting of sanctions. At MehrIran International in Tehran, I serve as co-founder and Vice President. We collaborate with numerous domestic services in Iran, including foreign investment facilitation, international trade process, and other matters. I am personally responsible for conducting political risk analyses by effectively coordinating with foreign embassies in Tehran, as well as other international organizations based in places such as Qatar, Switzerland, Netherlands, Bulgaria, and Brazil. I have a long list of contacts most of which I established during my time in Washington that I have effectively used to broaden my impact.

I have been asked to publish a chapter on Iran’s foreign policy determinants for an upcoming book being published by the University of Leitz, Poland, in addition to publishing several chapters of my translated thesis in the Journal of International and Political Studies in Iran. Furthermore, I regularly write opinion pieces for the Atlantic Council website which are sometimes republished and translated to different languages by various sources around the world.  Furthermore, I was invited to present my research on “Barriers To A Cooperative Future Between Iran and the Arab States of the Persian Gulf” at the Tehran Security Conference in December 2017.

Another asset that I hope to bring to your program was the invaluable experience in the summer of last year in Geneva, Switzerland as a participant in the International Affairs and Multilateral Governance Summer Program. Peacemaking through diplomacy has always been my central focus, which is why I earned dual degrees as an undergraduate student, in Peace Studies as well as Political Science. For this reason, I am very keen on taking full advantage of the Center for International Conflict Resolution and Columbia.

I was highly active in Southern California with the United Nations Association which I co-founded a chapter in Orange and won a “Head Delegate Award” for my efforts, in addition to an Outstanding Delegate Award from the UNA Conference in Boston in November of 2011.

I thank you for considering my application for PhD in Political Science at XXXX University’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

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