The University of California, Davis (UC Davis) is one of four higher learning institutions in the United States that offers a degree in Middle Eastern / South Asian (ME/SA) studies. However, what sets UC Davis apart from the other three schools is that the mandate for the program was not given by the school's Chancellor or other administrators, but rather the Department of ME/SA was created by a grassroots effort led by the students, the faculty, and the UC Davis community at large. The need for an academic program dedicated to the Middle East and Southeast Asia was expressed and the UC Davis community mobilized.
Iranian studies is the anchor program for the ME/SA department. In a traditional Middle East studies program, Iranian studies would take a backseat to Arab studies. Yet, since Davis's ME/SA department is dedicated to both the Middle East and Southeast Asia, the study of Iran, the country that bridges both regions together, is at the center of the program.
PARSA Community Foundation has given a total of $252,473.00 since 2010 to help build the Iranian Studies program at UC Davis. The PARSA grants, along with private donations from the Iranian American community, have helped establish a visiting lecture series which will commence in the winter of 2013. The first lecturer will be Dr. Wendy deSouza, a history professor who will teach two courses during her tenure at UC Davis. The goal of the visiting lecture series is to turn that position into an endowed professorship.
For more information regarding UC Davis' ME/SA please visit their website.