Calendar

Mar
28
Thu
Amin Saikal @ Liechtenstein Institute on Self-Determination
Mar 28 @ 4:30 pm – 6:00 pm
Amin Saikal @ Liechtenstein Institute on Self-Determination

On the fortieth anniversary of the 1978–79 Iranian revolution, a definitive political picture of the Islamic Republic

When Iranians overthrew their monarchy, rejecting a pro-Western shah in favor of an Islamic regime, many observers predicted that revolutionary turmoil would paralyze the country for decades to come. Yet forty years after the 1978–79 revolution, Iran has emerged as a critical player in the Middle East and the wider world, as demonstrated in part by the 2015 international nuclear agreement. In Iran Rising, renowned Iran specialist Amin Saikal describes how the country has managed to survive despite ongoing domestic struggles, Western sanctions, and countless other serious challenges.

Saikal explores Iran’s recent history, beginning with the revolution, which set in motion a number of developments, including war with Iraq, precarious relations with Arab neighbors, and hostilities with Israel and the United States. He highlights the regime’s agility as it navigated a complex relationship with Afghanistan during the Soviet invasion, survived the Gulf wars, and handled fallout from the Iraqi and Syrian crises. Such success, Saikal maintains, stems from a distinctive political order, comprising both a supreme Islamic leader and an elected president and national assembly, which can fuse religious and nationalist assertiveness with pragmatic policy actions at home and abroad.

But Iran’s accomplishments, including its nuclear development and ability to fight ISIS, have cost its people, who are desperately pressuring the ruling clerics for economic and social reforms—changes that might in turn influence the country’s foreign policy. Amid heightened global anxiety over alliances, terrorism, and nuclear threats, Iran Rising offers essential reading for understanding a country that, more than ever, is a force to watch.

Amin Saikal is Distinguished Professor of Political Science, Public Policy Fellow, and Director of the Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies (the Middle East and Central Asia) at the Australian National University. He is the author of The Rise and Fall of the Shah (Princeton) and Modern Afghanistan. He lives in Canberra.

Mar
30
Sat
Martin Rees @ Oxford Literary Festival
Mar 30 @ 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Martin Rees @ Oxford Literary Festival

A provocative and inspiring look at the future of humanity and science from world-renowned scientist and bestselling author Martin Rees

Humanity has reached a critical moment. Our world is unsettled and rapidly changing, and we face existential risks over the next century. Various outcomes—good and bad—are possible. Yet our approach to the future is characterized by short-term thinking, polarizing debates, alarmist rhetoric, and pessimism. In this short, exhilarating book, renowned scientist and bestselling author Martin Rees argues that humanity’s prospects depend on our taking a very different approach to planning for tomorrow.

The future of humanity is bound to the future of science and hinges on how successfully we harness technological advances to address our challenges. If we are to use science to solve our problems while avoiding its dystopian risks, we must think rationally, globally, collectively, and optimistically about the long term. Advances in biotechnology, cybertechnology, robotics, and artificial intelligence—if pursued and applied wisely—could empower us to boost the developing and developed world and overcome the threats humanity faces on Earth, from climate change to nuclear war. At the same time, further advances in space science will allow humans to explore the solar system and beyond with robots and AI. But there is no “Plan B” for Earth—no viable alternative within reach if we do not care for our home planet.

Rich with fascinating insights into cutting-edge science and technology, this accessible book will captivate anyone who wants to understand the critical issues that will define the future of humanity on Earth and beyond.

Martin Rees is Astronomer Royal, and has been Master of Trinity College and Director of the Institute of Astronomy at Cambridge University. As a member of the UK’s House of Lords and former President of the Royal Society, he is much involved in international science and issues of technological risk. His books include Our Cosmic Habitat (Princeton), Just Six Numbers, and Our Final Hour (published in the UK as Our Final Century). He lives in Cambridge, UK.