Dr. Zahra Khoshk Jan Named the 2024 IIE Scholar Rescue Fund Beau Biden Scholar

NEW YORK, June 24, 2024 — The Institute of International Education’s Scholar Rescue Fund (IIE-SRF) is honored to announce Dr. Zahra Khoshk Jan of Iran as the 2024 IIE-SRF Beau Biden Scholar. IIE-SRF is the only global program that arranges, funds, and supports fellowships for threatened and displaced scholars at partnering higher education institutions worldwide, including inside their home regions. This prestigious award, established in 2016, recognizes an IIE-SRF fellow who embodies the legacy of Beau Biden, the former Attorney General of Delaware and son of U.S. President Joseph R. Biden, Jr., in pursuing justice and safeguarding vulnerable populations.

“Zahra Khoshk Jan is a distinguished scholar and a brave advocate for the rights of women, for academic freedom, and for freedom of speech,” said Dr. Allan E. Goodman, CEO of IIE. “Her courage and activism in the face of severe government repression honors Beau Biden’s legacy of service and commitment to defending the most vulnerable.”

Khoshk Jan, a self-described “rebellious female political sociologist,” has made significant contributions in her research on the relationship between religion and the construction of socio-political practices and identities in various societies. Her scholarly work includes two published books, “The Meaning of Sacred Suffering in Shiism and Judaism” and “Social Constructionism and the Issue of Meaning,” along with numerous articles in both Persian and English on the relationship between the religious meaning system and the construction of political discourses.

A dedicated advocate for human rights, Khoshk Jan actively participated in the Women, Life, Freedom protest movement, which started in Iran in 2022 following the tragic death of Mahsa Amini after Amini’s arrest for allegedly wearing the hijab improperly. She voiced her solidarity with Iranian university students advocating for freedom of speech and assembly and encouraged students to fight for women’s rights. Her unwavering commitment to these causes ultimately led to her dismissal and prohibition from teaching in Iran.

“The new experiences and safety resulting from IIE-SRF support removed many academic and structural obstacles that I had faced before and gave me a suitable intellectual space to continue thinking, writing, researching, and teaching,” said Khoshk Jan.

In May 2023, Khoshk Jan was awarded the IIE-SRF fellowship and subsequently joined the University of Chicago in July. She currently instructs courses on “Sociology of Religion in Everyday Life” and “Political Sociology of Religion,” the latter of which is accessible virtually to her former students in Iran and a global audience. Khoshk Jan continues to contribute to academia through her publications on topics such as Iranian women’s religiosity and political spirituality in Iran. Her recent presentation at the Midwest Political Science Association conference focused on Iranian women, civil disobedience, and religion.

Recently approved for an IIE-SRF renewal fellowship, she will spend her second year at the University of Chicago as the IIE-SRF Beau Biden Scholar. Her upcoming endeavors include completing her third book, “Political Sociology of Iranian Shiism as a Discourse,” teaching new courses on the political psychology of religion and the sociology of religion, finalizing several academic papers, and initiating an educational podcast aimed at Iranians, concentrating on political concepts and ideologies.

“As the 2024 IIE-SRF Beau Biden Scholar, Zahra Khoshk Jan continues to inspire those who, like Beau, believe that our actions must be driven by our conscience, our moral codes, and our individual and collective values,” said Senator Ted Kaufman of Delaware, IIE Life Trustee, IIE-SRF Selection Committee member, and longtime friend and mentor to Biden. “We are honored to support Dr. Khoshk Jan and are grateful to our wonderful partners at the University of Chicago.”

For more information, visit: https://www.scholarrescuefund.org/.

About the Institute of International Education’s Scholar Rescue Fund (IIE-SRF)
For more than a century, IIE has supported scholars and university students seeking respite from global conflicts and political emergencies, from the Bolshevik Revolution to the mid-century rise of fascism and Nazism in Europe to South African Apartheid to the myriad present-day crises that endanger academics throughout the world. The Scholar Rescue Fund was established in 2002 to formalize IIE’s unwavering commitment to protecting the lives, voices, and ideas of scholars. It is the only global program that arranges, funds, and supports fellowships for threatened and displaced scholars at hosting higher education institutions worldwide, including within their home regions and in non-English placements. Over the past 22 years, IIE-SRF has assisted more than 1,100 scholars from 62 countries, placing them in temporary academic positions at over 500 higher education institutions in 59 countries across 6 continents.

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