Forum on Iran: Knox Students Quiz Professors

Knox Democrats host panel discussion with Andersen, Sencer, Beers

March 09, 2012

Knox Professors Discuss IranArticle by Rana Tahir '13
Photography by Kate Hovda '15

Inspired by recent international events, the Knox Democrats student organization hosted a forum in which a panel of Knox College faculty members offered their academic perspectives on Iran.

The participants were Roy Andersen, Charles W. and Arvilla S. Timme Professor of Economics; Emre Sencer, assistant professor of history; and Daniel Beers, assistant professor of political science. Knox junior Anna Meier, vice president of the Knox Democrats, moderated the discussion on February 29.Roy Andersen on Iran panel

Each professor spoke briefly about Iran, approaching the subject primarily from his area of expertise -- economics, history, or political science. Panel members then took questions from the audience of about 40 students and faculty members. (Photo at right, top: Roy Andersen. Photo at right, bottom: Emre Sencer.)

Iran's story is "a story of modernization, and trying to stand up in an incredibly fast-changing environment of imperialism, the incursion upon the Middle East by western powers, economic insecurity, and also a cultural shift of some sort," said Sencer.

Citing the work of scholar Afshin Molavi, Beers used an analogy of two "clocks" in discussing the ongoing political situation in Iran. He said a key question is which clock will tick down first -- the nuclear clock or the democracy clock -- leaving Iran with either the ability to produce a nuclear weapon or a change in its regime.Emre Sencer on Iran panel

Andersen focused on the economic issues associated with Iran's nuclear program, particularly the international sanctions placed on Iran.

The sanctions led Iran to adopt more frugal policies, saving billions of dollars each year, according to Andersen. At the same time, the sanctions may create some economic pressure on Iran, he said.

Meier explained why the Knox Democrats hosted the forum, saying there recently has been "increased belligerence," especially in the media, toward Iran. "We believe that conversation is vital to understanding the complex issues that characterize the modern world," she said.

"We have really knowledgeable professors and should take advantage of that," Meier added.

Daniel Beers and Anna MeierKnox junior Tanvi Madhusudanan, who is double-majoring in International Relations and psychology, found the discussion was very relevant to her classwork.

"I'm taking American Diplomacy, so we talk about President Obama's policy, and this topic is in the news a lot," she said. "I didn't really know about the history of Iran, so it was good to get that perspective from (Sencer). Also the idea of ‘clocks' that (Beers) talked about was new."

(Photo at left: Daniel Beers and Anna Meier. Photo below: Emre Sencer, Daniel Beers, Anna Meier, and Roy Andersen.)

Knox Professors Discuss Iran