Meet Political Science Professor Pejman Abdolmohammadi
by Samantha Abear
Spending half of his week in Rome and half in London, Professor Pejman Abdolmohammadi is very active in his field. He joined John Cabot’s Political Science faculty in 2014 after teaching at a number of universities across Europe. As an Iranian-Italian Scholar, Dr. Abdolmohammadi often gives his comments and analyses regarding Middle Eastern issues on Italian National TV. Furthermore, he recently had a book published by one of Italy’s leading publishers, and he is currently researching as a Visiting Fellow at the London School of Economics’ Middle East Centre.
Professor Abdolmohammadi, is it true that you are currently splitting your time every week between Rome and London?
Yes, since March 2015, I have been traveling back and forth weekly between Rome and London for a one-year research fellowship with the London School of Economics’ Middle East Centre. My research there is specifically focused on Iranian politics and the politics of other Arab States in the Persian Gulf, regarding the Shia-Sunni conflict and competition in the energy market. In addition to my research, I give guest lectures and have been organizing workshops with other experts in the field.
You recently published a new book Modern Iran: Internal and International Challenges of a Strategic Country with one of Italy’s leading publishers. What is your book about?
It deals with the domestic and foreign affairs of Iran in combination with Middle Eastern politics and aims to provide an in-depth view of Iranian reality. The publishing contract itself happened quite spontaneously! I sent the proposal to Mondadori, the Italian publishing company, describing the market for such a book, and without any mediation by one of their editors, they responded to me with the offer of a contract.
How did Iran come to be the center of your research?
Well, I am Iranian! I was born in Italy of Persian parents, and I lived in Italy until the age of nine when we moved back to Iran. At 18, I returned to Europe for university and received my Ph.D. from the University of Genoa in 2007.
What is your teaching philosophy?
The university is a parliament of science. My aim is to share as much knowledge with students as I can. In turn, I aim to continue growing as a professor. It is important to me to instill in my students the idea that they should be critical, that there exists no authority – scientific or otherwise – that cannot or should not be criticized. I push my students to go beyond their prejudices to discover what is human.
You have taught at other universities, such as the Universities of Genoa, Helsinki, and Kiel, just to name a few. What is it like teaching at John Cabot University?
I like JCU because it is a very cosmopolitan environment. You can have many minds from many different backgrounds in any single classroom. Rome, as well, serves as a great intersection of histories and cultures.
What are the benefits of studying Political Science in this day and age, specifically at John Cabot University?
Political Science is one of the most important things to study for anyone who wants to work in public policy or international affairs. In fact, Political Science helps you become familiar with basic terminology and concepts that are useful for many types of careers. When I teach, I try to create a certain level of entertainment, because students should be excited about Political Science. John Cabot specifically is an excellent place to study because you really feel a liberal arts environment nurtured here. JCU provides an interesting environment of respect and freedom.
Please name a challenge you have encountered throughout your career as a professor. How were you able to overcome it?
Currently, I am teaching three classes: Introduction to Islam, Politics of the Middle East, and International Organizations. When you have taught the same classes in previous semesters, the most challenging thing is to not repeat the same lectures and discuss the same issues every semester. That is why I always aim to have an innovative approach and connect with current issues. I do not want to get bored with the same topic because in my experience, if you as the professor are engaged, then the students are going to be engaged and excited about the subject matter.