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U.S.-Iran Engagement in Science, Engineering, and Health (2000-2009): Opportunities, Constraints, and Impacts 3 Workshops Workshops have been the core of the US-Iran engagement program of the National Academies. Seventeen workshops were held from 2002 through 2009. Nine took place in Iran, and eight were held in the United States and in third countries. In addition, the National Academies assisted other organizations in arranging two U.S.-Iran workshops. More than a dozen workshops that were proposed by the National Academies or counterpart organizations in Iran were postponed or cancelled during the planning process due either to (a) selection of other topics for workshops that were considered of higher priority by one side, or (b) administrative complications. Twelve of the seventeen workshops involved specialists only from the United States and Iran, while five included participants from other countries as well. Four of the five workshops were held in third countries where the French Academy of Sciences and the University of Helsinki served as hosts. They invited specialists from their own and other countries who quickly became important participants in the events. The fifth multilateral workshop, which was held in Iran, included several specialists from Europe and Africa who were visiting Iran as guests of the workshop organizers. The presence of third country participants in the workshops did not seem to affect the quality or candor of the presentations and discussions during the workshops. Understandably, the presentations by these participants were not directed to the U.S.-Iranian scientific relationship. However, broadening the discussions beyond this relationship at times added important
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U.S.-Iran Engagement in Science, Engineering, and Health (2000-2009): Opportunities, Constraints, and Impacts perspectives on the technical issues and the associated political and social contexts under consideration. Workshops usually were designed to include six to ten prepared presentations by American participants and a comparable number by Iranian participants. The multilateral workshops were organized to include a larger number of presentations since specialists from other countries were also invited to make presentations. However, due to personal travel problems and unanticipated developments, the number of in-person presentations varied considerably. On several occasions, papers were submitted by specialists who were unable to attend; and these papers were distributed to attendees. A few of these papers were included as appendices to the Proceedings of the workshops. The minimum number of in-person Iranian presentations at a single workshop was two (on one occasion), and the maximum was 30. The minimum number of American presentations was two (on one occasion), and the maximum was 15. Proceedings, which included the texts of the presentations, were prepared for most of the workshops and published without restrictions on distribution. While preparation of the Proceedings took considerable effort, they have provided a useful record of most of the workshops. Some copies have been distributed to requesters many years after they were published. Published Proceedings are identified throughout this chapter and in Appendix G. Set forth below are comments on the various workshops. The workshops are clustered under general topics. An important criterion in selecting topics for workshops has been ensuring a symmetry of interests and capabilities. Each side has been expected to bring ideas to the table so that neither side dominates discussions. When appropriate, descriptions of follow-on activities are included in the discussions throughout this chapter. Chapter 5 addresses scientific and political impacts of the workshops and other events, beyond those mentioned in this chapter, to the extent that impacts can be ascertained or anticipated. FOOD-BORNE DISEASES Food security/food safety was identified as a potential workshop topic by both sides at the outset of the program in 2000. However, during a joint planning session on the workshop program in 2003, specialists from Iran and the United States decided that this topic was simply too broad for a single workshop or even a workshop series. They agreed to focus initial joint efforts on food-borne diseases, with disease surveillance and responses to food
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U.S.-Iran Engagement in Science, Engineering, and Health (2000-2009): Opportunities, Constraints, and Impacts contamination incidents as important themes. Workshops that emphasized these themes were eventually organized in Tehran and Washington. The workshop in Tehran involved more than 100 Iranian specialists from more than 15 organizations, all of whom received Iranian certificates for their participation. At the time, the Iranian Government was giving high priority to the topic of food-borne diseases as indicated by the participation of many Iranian government scientists who considered that this workshop was important. (See Box 3-1 concerning the interest of one Iranian government department.) Among the topics emphasized at the workshop were specific diseases of concern, disease surveillance, inspections of facilities, risk analysis, and hazard analysis and critical control points.1 Following the workshop, the American participants visited Shaheed Beheshti Medical University, the Pasteur Institute including its research complex and its new biotechnology laboratories, and three slaughterhouses that had just been privatized. According to the Iranian hosts, the visitors were the first Americans to visit several research laboratories. The Iranian and American participants subsequently decided to launch a cooperative pilot project to upgrade disease surveillance in northeast Tehran. (See Chapter 4.) The Iranian participants in the second workshop held in Washington, D.C., included both senior scientists and young researchers. The major topics were disease surveillance, gastrointestinal diseases, risk assessment, associations between food-borne diseases and chronic diseases, and health education. Of special interest were reports on research activities resulting from the first workshop (see, for example, Box 3-2) and on the collaborative BOX 3-1 At a time when globalization, self regulation, hazard analysis, and quality control have become so important, Iranian food safety principles incorporated in regulations are considered as urgent national priorities. S. Farzad Talakesh and Hamid Khanaghahi, Iran Veterinary Organization, October 2004.a aNational Research Council, Food Safety and Foodborne Disease Surveillance Systems, Proceedings of an Iranian-American Workshop. Washington, DC: National Academies Press, 2006, p. 64.
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U.S.-Iran Engagement in Science, Engineering, and Health (2000-2009): Opportunities, Constraints, and Impacts BOX 3-2 One result of the 2004 workshop was the establishment of a reference laboratory for the identification, isolation, and culture of relevant bacterial food-borne pathogens at the Research Center for Gastroenterology and Liver Disease at Shaheed Beheshti Medical University. Later, the Center expanded its activities to include work on various viruses and parasites. Mohammad Reza Zali, Shaheed Beheshti Medical University, November 2007.a aInstitute of Medicine, Food-borne Disease and Public Health, Summary of an Iranian-American Workshop. Washington, DC: National Academies Press, 2008, p. 6. disease surveillance pilot project in Iran, which is discussed in Chapter 4.2 Following the workshop the Iranian visitors met with specialists at relevant facilities in the states of Georgia, Washington, and Oregon and in the Washington, D.C. area. WATER CONSERVATION Workshops on water issues have been high on the priority lists of both the Iranian Academy of Sciences and the National Academies throughout the past decade. Unfortunately, plans for the first workshop were foiled at the last minute. While representatives of the National Academies awaited the arrival of the Iranian delegation of specialists in Los Angeles, the leader of the Iranian group telephoned Washington from Tehran saying that the group had been instructed not to board the Iran Air flight that evening. The U.S. government’s requirement for fingerprinting Iranians was unacceptable to Iranian officials. After a six-month delay, the workshop was rescheduled for Tunisia where arid land conditions were similar in some respects to conditions in Iran and where visas and entry into the country would not be a problem for Americans or Iranians. The workshop in Tunis was the first of three workshops directed to more effective use of limited water resources. A second workshop was held in Iran. The third workshop was organized in Irvine, California. As an example of
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U.S.-Iran Engagement in Science, Engineering, and Health (2000-2009): Opportunities, Constraints, and Impacts the importance of this topic in Iran, the seriousness of the water problems for agriculture is indicated in Box 3-3. The first workshop resulted in agreement among the participants that four critical problems concerning water management were the following: forecasting and managing effects of droughts, developing technology for inexpensive recycling of urban wastewater without adverse impacts on public health, improving the economic efficiency in using water in agriculture, and developing new and innovative institutional arrangements for managing water, consistent with historical antecedents and traditions of each country.3 Following up the discussions during the first workshop, the participants addressed the following topics during the second workshop, which focused on droughts: drought monitoring and evaluation, early warning and action plans for coping with droughts, risk management and crisis management during droughts, assistance programs during droughts, evaluation of water scarcity, BOX 3-3 Drought is an inevitable event that occurs on and off with no clear warning. Sometimes it lasts only a year, but the southern and eastern parts of Iran are now experiencing the ninth consecutive year of a severe drought period. Drought causes losses in millions of dollars for many farming communities. Amin Alizadeh and Medhi Nassiri-Mohallati, Ferdowsi University, May 2005.a a Ali Reza Sepaskhah, Drought Forecasting and Management, Proceeding of an American-Iranian Workshop, Iranian Academy of Sciences and Iranian Ministry of Agriculture, 2006, p. 6.
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U.S.-Iran Engagement in Science, Engineering, and Health (2000-2009): Opportunities, Constraints, and Impacts preparation for droughts: technical, organizational, legislative, training, and research requirements, and institutional relationships.4 The third workshop addressed urban, agricultural, and environmental uses of water. While the workshop was considered very useful by both Iranian and American participants, the ten-day tour by the Iranians of facilities in Southern California and Arizona that took place before and after the workshop was exceptionally well received despite the blistering August heat. The Iranian specialists were particularly impressed by the modern facilities that control water flows, the water management systems in operation throughout the region, and the attention given to the dependence of environmental quality on adequate water supplies. The workshop participants identified the following areas for development of parallel research projects in the two countries: optimal ground water management, particularly in coastal aquifers and urban aquifers, water quality and management of sediment in irrigated agriculture, optimal water use for agriculture in semi-arid environments, new technologies for augmenting and enhancing water re-use, and adequate and accurate water resources data, particularly for evaluation of the high-resolution real-time satellite precipitation measurements from the PERSIANN system. 5,6 EARTHQUAKE SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING Two workshops were held that highlighted achievements and challenges in seismic science and engineering, which for many decades have been priority concerns in Iran, California, and many other areas of the world. (See Box 3-4.) From a geoscience perspective, Los Angeles and Tehran have a number of similarities. (See Box 3-5.) Each is bounded by mountains rising above fertile alluvial slopes and arid sedimentary plains. Their seismic geographies are being actively shaped by folding and faulting in the bounding zones between gigantic tectonic plates. However, Tehran has many of its tall buildings in the foothills to the north whereas the tall buildings in Los Angeles do not extend into the foothills.7
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U.S.-Iran Engagement in Science, Engineering, and Health (2000-2009): Opportunities, Constraints, and Impacts BOX 3-4 During the twentieth century, the Iranian people experienced at least one earthquake of magnitude 7 or greater every seven years with more than 164,000 people killed…. The catastrophic earthquake at Bam effectively destroyed the ancient city with a population of 150,000. The number of deaths will perhaps never be known but is thought to be between 26,000 (the official figure) and 40,000. Manouchehr Ghorashi, Tehran Research Institute for Earth Sciences, June 2009.a aPEER Center, Improving Earthquake Mitigation through Innovations and Applications in Seismic Science, Engineering, Communication, and Response, Proceedings of a U.S.-Iran Seismic Workshop, University of California, Berkeley, October 2009, p. 31. BOX 3-5 From a geoscience perspective, Los Angeles and Tehran are remarkably similar. Each is bounded by high mountains rising thousands of meters above fertile alluvial slopes and arid sedimentary plains, their stunning but seismic geographies are being actively shaped by folding and faulting in the boundary zones between gigantic tectonic plates. Thomas Jordan, University of Southern California, June 2009.a aPEER Center, Improving Earthquake Mitigation through Innovations and Applications in Seismic Science, Engineering, Communication, and Response, Proceedings of a U.S.-Iran Seismic Workshop, University of California, Berkeley, October 2009, p. 15. The first workshop in Tehran, with participants from 14 Iranian institutions, addressed adobe and masonry vulnerability because of the extensive damage from earthquakes in recent years, and particularly the damage in Bam in December 2003. Of special interest was the need for seismic rehabilitation of over 27,000 school buildings and reconstruction of the Bam Citadel using surrogate adobe materials. Directions for future research collaboration were identified.8
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U.S.-Iran Engagement in Science, Engineering, and Health (2000-2009): Opportunities, Constraints, and Impacts The workshop was followed by (a) a one-day public seminar on seismic hazard reduction with over 100 participants, and (b) visits to several Iranian facilities. Topics for the seminar included education and public safety, earthquake loss reduction, seismic research in the United States, rehabilitation of schools and hospitals, and evolution of masonry as a structural material. The visits included discussions at Sharif University of Technology, the Geophysics Institute of the University of Tehran, and the International Institute of Earthquake Engineering and Seismology. The second workshop in Irvine, California, had a wide-ranging agenda. Topics included seismic hazards, research and risk reduction, risk reduction and recovery, masonry and adobe buildings, seismic responses of buildings, and geotechnical earthquake engineering. Of special interest for the Iranian visitors was a detailed report on the Great Southern California ShakeOut, an earthquake rehearsal involving more than five million Californians. The objectives of the ShakeOut focused on (a) consistent messages, (b) visual reinforcement of messages, (c) discussions of contemplated actions, and (d) emphasis on specific actions. The importance of careful examination of engineering approaches to limit damage was another topic of considerable interest. (See Box 3-6.) Particular concern was expressed about the possibility that an earthquake could destroy bridges and buildings in Tehran. Also, during the workshop, technical topics for further cooperation were set forth together with a proposed organizational framework for cooperation, which included branches to many institutions in Iran and the United States.9 BOX 3-6 Much effort should be directed toward identifying the seismic vulnerability of buildings and retrofitting them. If the building is found to be seismically vulnerable, different retrofitting options should be carefully studied. Improper selection of retrofitting schemes causes waste of much needed financial resources and risks the lives of inhabitants in earthquake-prone regions. aA.S. Moghadam, International Institute of Earthquake Engineering and Seismology, June 2009. Sharif University of Technology, Seismic Performance of Adobe and Masonry Structures: Proceedings of the First U.S.-Iran Seismic Workshop, Tehran, 2010, p. 149.
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U.S.-Iran Engagement in Science, Engineering, and Health (2000-2009): Opportunities, Constraints, and Impacts SCIENCE, ETHICS, AND APPROPRIATE USES OF TECHNOLOGY The first U.S.-Iran workshop in 2002 was devoted to science and ethics. A workshop in 2009 considered science, ethics, and appropriate uses of technology. In between, ethics were raised at other workshops and planning meetings. This topic clearly was of great interest to many participants in the engagement program from the United States, Iran, and third countries. At the first workshop, breakout groups on research integrity, environmental equity, ethics in medicine, and ethics and education proposed more than two dozen areas for future cooperation. Examples are as follows: integration of ethical values into the curricula for K to 12 education, and exchanges directed to the teaching of ethics at all levels of education, preparation and dissemination of reports on ethical issues confronted by scientists and engineers, and exchanges concerning ethical issues associated with food safety and environmental pollution (particularly cancer-causing chemicals).10 Many differences in the approaches to ethics in the two countries were pointed out by the participants. (See, for example, Box 3-7.) The discussions were lively and provocative. Following the workshop, some of the partici- BOX 3-7 The Iranians considered ethics to be based on absolutes from which standards of conduct are derived for particular activities. The quality of the will of researchers is the basis of all choices. There was no consensus among the Iranians, however, as to what are the absolutes. The Americans noted that the baselines for judgments are not precise; and, therefore, they have not adopted this approach. Mehdi Bahadori, Iranian Academy of Sciences, and George Bugliarello, New York Polytechnic, April 2002a aNational Research Council, Experiences and Challenges of Science and Ethics; Proceedings of an American-Iranian Workshop, Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 2003, p. 4.
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U.S.-Iran Engagement in Science, Engineering, and Health (2000-2009): Opportunities, Constraints, and Impacts pants remained in touch by e-mail. Of special follow-on interest were the parallel efforts of the Iranian Academy of Sciences and the U.S. National Academy of Engineering to prepare documents on the ethical responsibilities of engineers, which could be used in educational materials. Also, an Iranian participant in the workshop subsequently obtained from the World Health Organization a grant to support a survey of the views of theologians, doctors, and scholars in the Tehran region on ethical issues facing the medical community. The survey results underscored the importance of forming ethics committees at medical universities. The results suggested that policy officials should give greater attention to bioethics issues through expansion of consulting services, training of practitioners, and appropriate legislation.11 During a visit to Iran by several leading members of the National Academies in 2007, Sadegh Vaez-Zadeh, at that time the Iranian Vice President for Science, proposed that scientists of the two countries organize a program that would emphasize the responsibility of scientists to help ensure that irresponsible scientists do not divert modern technologies developed for economic and social advancement to military, criminal, or other inappropriate uses. His proposal led to the workshop in 2009 that emphasized appropriate uses of technology. Three types of technologies were given particular attention. They were biotechnology, nanotechnology, and cyber technology. The workshop participants decided to prepare a brief Statement expressing the consensus of the personal views of the participants rather than preparing a Proceedings of the workshop. The Statement is set forth in Appendix F. The Statement emphasized “the results of scientific research are a common heritage of humankind and, as a general principle, should be openly available to serve all people equally. Scientific openness and freedom of inquiry are essential to the advancement of science itself. While some secrecy in the contexts of private intellectual property or national security is inevitable, these should be exceptions, and not the rule.” The Iranian participants announced plans to introduce the Statement into international discussions on “the misuse of science,” including discussions being organized by the International Association of Universities. SCIENCE AND SOCIETY Related to the workshops explicitly devoted to ethical issues were discussions at other workshops conducted under the broader title of Science and Society. This broader theme was used as an umbrella for addressing many
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U.S.-Iran Engagement in Science, Engineering, and Health (2000-2009): Opportunities, Constraints, and Impacts concerns of scientists in the two countries about the relationships between science and governance, science and education, and science and economic advancement. (See, for example, Box 3-8.) According to some of the participants from the two countries, this broader umbrella mirrored approaches for stimulating conversations in many forums in Washington and Tehran. The first workshop under the title Science and Society covered a wide range of topics: communications within societies, morality, economic development, trends in basic sciences, technology to improve health and water availability, scientific thinking among decision makers, and school teachers and science. Two presentations that included important information, which had not been previously available to the American participants, were a brilliant paper about introducing new approaches to science education at the primary and secondary school levels in France (see Box 3-9) and an insightful analysis of trends in Iranian publications (see Box 3-10). During a visit to the National Academies in 2005, which is described in Chapter 4, former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami suggested that the National Academies engage in a dialogue with Iranian specialists who are concerned with the future relationships among different societies. During subsequent discussions in Tehran, arrangements were made for a workshop that recognized the important role of science as a bridge in bringing together specialists from Iran and the United States to address cultural divides. A workshop on the topic Science as a Gateway to Understanding was held in Tehran in October 2007. (See Box 3-11 for a provocative viewpoint.) A mix of philosophical, historical, and science-based presentations followed. The discussions were extensive as participants explored the details of BOX 3-8 The range of scientific and technological opportunities and discoveries will continue to require careful ethical judgments which should be independent of preconceived political and theological ideologies. Kenneth Shine, University of Texas, June 2006.a aNational Research Council, Science and Technology and the Future Development of Societies, International Workshop Proceedings, Washington, DC: National Academies Press, 2008, p. 38.
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U.S.-Iran Engagement in Science, Engineering, and Health (2000-2009): Opportunities, Constraints, and Impacts BOX 3-9 Teachers with minimal training in science ask: Is science easy or difficult? Open or closed? Good or bad? Necessary for development or useless? Their answer is almost always the same: Science is difficult and in fact too difficult to be taught. “Science is definitely too difficult for me,” is a sentence I have heard hundred of times. Contrary to the fear of many school teachers, there is no initial gap that must be overcome before entering into science. One must just want to take a walk with the students and enjoy it. Yves Quere, Academy of Sciences of France, June 2006.a aNational Research Council, Science and Technology and the Future Development of Societies, International Workshop Proceedings, Washington, DC: National Academies Press, 2008, p. 81. BOX 3-10 Since 1993, the publication rate of Iranian scientists in Institute of Scientific Information (ISI) journals has skyrocketed…. It is not surprising for Iran to have experienced rapid economic growth since 1993, which correlates well with its rapid publication rate. Mojtabe Shamsipur, Rezi University, June 2006.a aNational Research Council, Science and Technology and the Future Development of Societies, International Workshop Proceedings, Washington, DC: National Academies Press, 2008, p. 65. the different perspectives reflected in the presentations. (See Box 3-12 for an example of an important viewpoint.) PREVENTING AND RESPONDING TO CRISES Comparative experiences of different countries in coping with the build-up of impending crises that affect large populations have long been of interest to scholars in many fields. The social sciences can play important
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U.S.-Iran Engagement in Science, Engineering, and Health (2000-2009): Opportunities, Constraints, and Impacts BOX 3-11 Modern science and the miracles of technology increasingly widen the gap between those in authority and those who are disadvantaged in the same way that religion, philosophy, communications, and other inventions of man’s creative mind have been misused for the advancement of the powerful. Mohammad Khatami, Former President of Iran, October 2007.a aNational Research Council and Iranian Institute for Advanced Studies in Basic Science, Science as a Gateway to Understanding, International Workshop Proceedings, Washington, DC: National Academies Press, 2009, p. 5. BOX 3-12 It is not the epistemological part of science that is important and brings understanding, but it is its social institutions that bring people together and make them talk about the things they have discovered or the things they plan to do. The scientific institutions are a key mechanism in bringing about understanding among different people. Hyadi Khajehpour, Sharif University of Technology, October 2007.a aNational Research Council and Iranian Institute for Advanced Studies in Basic Science, Science as a Gateway to Understanding, International Workshop Proceedings, Washington, DC: National Academies Press, 2009, p. 150. roles in analyzing root causes and in identifying approaches to mitigate adverse consequences. Two workshops involving American, Iranian, Finnish, and other specialists—held in Finland—were devoted to crises of broad international concern. The first workshop in October 2005 was a broadly based dialogue on the development of democracy in countries with large Muslim populations. Specialists from several countries reported developments in the region. Also, leading Finnish experts provided their views on relevant trends. For example,
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U.S.-Iran Engagement in Science, Engineering, and Health (2000-2009): Opportunities, Constraints, and Impacts they contended that contemporary Islamist political movements in the Arab world share the following major characteristics: They are critical of prevailing societal conditions in their world described as decadent, underdeveloped, or unjust. They blame authoritarian ruling elites for these conditions and therefore consider political change as the first crucial step toward betterment. They legitimatize their practices by rooting them in religious norms and values which serve as the ultimate ideological form of reference for society and politics.12 The second workshop in September 2009 focused on crises due to inadequate environmental management. Many environmental problems that confront Finland, Iran, the United States, and other counties were discussed. The responses to these problems should be of considerable interest to the international community. The challenges in Iran include: restoration to the extent possible of the marshland on the Iran-Iraq border, steps to reduce the extreme dust storms that encompassed Tehran during 2009 and may continue due to the uptake of sand hundreds of miles to the west, measures to limit eutrophication of the Caspian Sea, curbing urban air pollution that is intensifying throughout the country, conserving energy usage in buildings and increasing use of renewable energy sources, and strengthening the roles of environmental nongovernmental organizations.13 The papers that were presented at the second workshop in 2009 should help focus international attention on common concerns about environmental challenges which are rapidly spreading. They help set the stage for more detailed consideration of a variety of issues of concern not only to Finland, the United States, and Iran, but also to the broader environmental communities throughout the world.
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U.S.-Iran Engagement in Science, Engineering, and Health (2000-2009): Opportunities, Constraints, and Impacts ECOLOGY AND ENERGY An early workshop in Iran focused on the Caspian Sea and had an ecological theme. Held in 2002 on the southern shore of the sea, it pursued some of the same issues that were considered in the multilateral workshop on ecological issues of the sea three years earlier in Moscow, which is discussed in Chapter 2. However, the 2002 workshop was bilateral, focusing sharply on the environmental problems that directly affected Iran. The Iranian Academy of Sciences had just begun a project on evaluation of information concerning the southern coast of the Caspian Sea. Therefore, the workshop was timely. However, to some of the participants there seemed to be a disconnect about the seriousness of degradation of the sea as perceived by the Iranian Academy of Sciences and the less urgent perspective of the environmental ministry of the country, which was not strongly represented at the workshop even though it was responsible for pollution issues. As was common at the time, many of the discussions about the Caspian Sea focused on (a) the decline in sturgeon and other fishery resources, and (b) the legal rights of the riparian states on access to the seabed, to the fishery resources, and to the airspace of the sea—issues which still remain unresolved. The workshop addressed long-term as well as short-term ecological issues as indicated in Box 3-13. The details of the scientific issues were of course unique to the Caspian Sea. However, they were the same types of issues that are confronted when addressing other biologically rich bodies of water BOX 3-13 Conservation and management of the Caspian Sea’s biological resources can only benefit from acknowledging that species interact and that the presence of strongly interacting species demands particular attention…. Determining the outcome of the complex relationship between sturgeon, kilka, zooplankton, and the bethnic assemblage will require data on stock densities, rates of prey removal, and consumer population growth, at the least. Robert Paine, University of Washington, November 2002.a aM. Sohrabpour, editor, Proceedings of a Workshop on Ecology of the Caspian Sea, Academy of Sciences of Iran, 2004, p. 35.
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U.S.-Iran Engagement in Science, Engineering, and Health (2000-2009): Opportunities, Constraints, and Impacts that are under stress from pollution and overfishing. Indeed the loss of biodiversity is a global problem. Several years later in April 2008, Sharif University of Technology organized a small workshop on energy challenges, including environment implications, during the visit to Iran of Nobel Laureate Burton Richter, which is described in Chapter 4. The Iranian specialists presented assessments of Iranian supplies of and demand for various types of energy. This was done within the global context of requirements for access to energy resources. Climate change was also on the agenda. There was an exchange of views on the future development of the oil and gas industries of the country, the outlook for developing renewable energy, and the opportunities to improve energy efficiency and conservation measures in buildings. The subsidies provided for gasoline, which encouraged excessive vehicular traffic, were decried by some participants as misguided, given the poor state of the refinery sector in Iran. Also, Iranian buildings were not constructed with energy efficiency in mind. Therefore, retrofitting buildings will be difficult; and convincing investors to spend more money on improving energy efficiencies in new buildings will not be easy. EDUCATION AND RESEARCH CHALLENGES As already noted, education was a popular issue throughout the history of the workshop program. Almost every topic that was considered for a workshop had an educational dimension. Since most of the participants in the program had appointments at either U.S. or Iranian universities, their interests in education were quite appropriate. Also, a number of universities in both countries have commanded considerable respect, and common interests in education helped avoid potential controversies over other issues. An early workshop in 2002 was devoted to higher education. It took place at Payame Noor University, which has been the primary distance education center in the country, with dozens of branch offices in many regions. Thus, much of the discussion was devoted to distance learning although the American participants had anticipated a broader agenda and were not fully prepared to present a number of recent developments in the United States on this topic. Nevertheless, they were able to discuss trends that were common at a number of U.S. universities. The reason for the emphasis on distance education is set forth in Box 3-14. Payame Noor University had not introduced electronic transmissions into its program at the time of the workshop. Standardized text were prepared
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U.S.-Iran Engagement in Science, Engineering, and Health (2000-2009): Opportunities, Constraints, and Impacts BOX 3-14 The rather short history of distance education has resolved a number of substantial problems in our country’s higher education. Among these problems are the limited admission capacity of traditional universities, inflexibility of learning and instructional time allocations, and excessive expenditures of conventional universities compared to distance education. Hashem Fardanesh, Payame Noor Universitya aAcademy of Sciences of Iran, Proceedings of a Workshop on Higher Education. Tehran, 2004, p. 57. and distributed to the branch offices where instructors led classes. However, Sharif University of Technology and other Iranian universities were in the process of introducing electronic systems which would link on-campus lectures with off-campus students. An important view on the role of information technology in distance education is set forth in Box 3-15. Several years later, in 2007, a workshop that emphasized research in higher education was organized in Tehran during a visit of leading members of the National Academies. The workshop was held at Sharif University BOX 3-15 Information technology will be most effective if it is embedded in a curriculum that combines face-to-face interaction of students with peers and instructors along with individual learning and asynchronous communication through networked computers. With such a hybrid model, the bright line that distinguishes between face-to-face learning and distance learning vanishes. Richard McCray, University of Colorado, October 2002.a aAcademy of Sciences of Iran, Proceedings of a Workshop on Higher Education. Tehran, 2004, p. 56.
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U.S.-Iran Engagement in Science, Engineering, and Health (2000-2009): Opportunities, Constraints, and Impacts of Technology. There are over 70 state universities, and this university is generally considered the nation’s leading research university in science and technology. The medical universities have a separate system, which includes more than 40 universities where most of the country’s medical research is concentrated . The presentations emphasized research with the Iranian presentations focusing on activities at Sharif University of Technology. An important Iranian presentation addressed transportation research, which was under the purview of a team of senior researchers, most of whom had received their advanced degrees in the United States. The American presentations addressed seismic, plant biotechnology, and cyber research challenges. The sessions concluded with a discussion of opportunities for cooperation and then with visits to the physics and earthquake engineering facilities in order to witness research in action. WORKSHOPS AS AN INTRODUCTION AND CATALYST FOR FUTURE COOPERATION A major purpose of the workshops was to provide opportunities for U.S. scientists to become familiar with achievements and capabilities in Iran. This goal was usually achieved—to a limited degree. The hope was that the introductions would lead to further cooperation between interested individuals. However, this objective remains elusive as discussed in Chapter 5. It was important for the Iranian participants to meet colleagues from the United States. The Iranians had both an advantage and a handicap in connecting with the Americans. Most of the Iranians had well established communication linkages to the U.S. scientific community through family, friends, or professional acquaintances. They knew the international scientific literature, and they spoke English. Since usually the workshops were not their first encounters with Americans, they probably knew what to expect. However, they seemed at times apprehensive as to whether they should enter into new informal professional relationships with Americans without prior approval by the Iranian government. Over the years, the National Academies have repeatedly been asked why they have spent so much effort preparing Proceedings from the workshops and encouraging other sponsors of the workshops to follow suit. The experience of the National Academies has validated the importance of Proceedings. Requiring papers helps convince skeptics of the program that the workshops are much more than scientific tourism. Also, this requirement
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U.S.-Iran Engagement in Science, Engineering, and Health (2000-2009): Opportunities, Constraints, and Impacts encourages participants to prepare serious presentations for the workshops. Some Iranians greatly appreciate the opportunity to have their papers published in an English-language document, and many other Iranians who did not participate have been interested in receiving the papers that related to their own work. Finally, the publications reach important audiences at both the policy and scientific levels. In summary, the workshops have involved hundreds of scientists and have contributed to both scientific and bridge-building objectives. They have been difficult to arrange, but the effort has provided many channels of communication. END NOTES 1. National Research Council, Food Safety and Foodborne Disease Surveillance Systems, Proceedings of an Iranian-American Workshop, National Academies Press, 2006. 2. Institute of Medicine, Food-borne Disease and Public Health, Summary of an Iranian-American Workshop, National Academies Press, 2008. 3. National Research Council, Water Conservation, Reuse, and Recycling, Proceedings of an Iranian-American Workshop, National Academies Press, 2005, p. viii. 4. National Research Council, Water Conservation, Reuse, and Recycling, Proceedings of an Iranian-American Workshop, National Academies Press, 2005, Sepaskhah, p. 6. 5. See Sorooshian, S., K. Hsu, X. Gao, H. Gupta, B. Imam, and D. Braithwaite, “Evaluation of PERSIANN System of Satellite-Based Estimates of Tropical Rainfall,” Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, B1(9): 2035-2046, September 2000. PERSIANN is the acronym for Precipitation Estimation from Remotely Sensed Information using Artificial Neural Networks. 6. Henry Vaux, Editor, Water Management in Iran and the United States: Proceedings of a Joint Workshop, Rosenberg International Forum on Water Policy (with National Research Council), Davis, California, 2010. 7. PEER Center, Improving Earthquake Mitigation through Innovations and Applications in Seismic Science, Engineering, Communication, and Response, Proceedings of a U.S.-Iran Seismic Workshop, University of California, Berkeley, October 2009, p. 15. 8. op. cit., PEER Center, p. 9. 9. ibid., p. ix. 10. National Research Council, Experiences and Challenges of Science and Ethics; Proceedings of an American-Iranian Workshop, National Academy Press, 2003, p. vii-viii. 11. Mohammad Reza Zali and Mansoureh Saniee, Attitudes of Iranian Scholars and Theologians toward Bioethical Considerations of Cloning, Genetic Screening, and Confidentiality, Research Center for Gastroenterology and Liver Disease, Shaheed Beheshti Medical University, May 29, 2005. 12. Kristi Westphalen, “Engagement with the Islamic World,” from Timo Hellenberg and Kelly Robbins, editors, Roots and Routes of Democracy and Extremism, Aleksantari Institute, Yliopistopaino, Helsinki, 2006, p. 61.
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U.S.-Iran Engagement in Science, Engineering, and Health (2000-2009): Opportunities, Constraints, and Impacts 13. Kaisa Kekkonen and Merc Fox, Editors, Towards Solutions in Managing Environmental Crises: Proceedings of a U.S.-Iran-Finland Environmental Workshop, University of Helsinki, Haikko-Helsinki: Environmentalica Fennica, 2010.