MGA student awarded prestigious grant to study Iran sanctions and development

Niloofar Adnani, a second-year master of global affairs student at the University of Notre Dame’s Keough School of Global Affairs, has been awarded an Iran Summer Research Grant by Bourse & Bazaar, a London-based think tank that provides news, research, and analysis on Iran’s economy. 

“From the perspective of those of us in the know about Iran, its politics, and economy, this award is a tremendous honor,” said George A. Lopez, the Keough School’s Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C. Professor Emeritus of Peace Studies, who is a sanctions expert and Adnani’s academic advisor. “Bourse & Bazaar is a multifaceted, ‘go to’ source held in high regard by those who believe the US can have an ongoing and productive relationship with Iran.”

Adnani’s grant proposal, which positions holistic approaches to development as a necessary component of sanctions relief, was one of two winning proposals selected for the prestigious grant. 

To create a competitive application, Adnani tapped into multiple campus resources. She worked with Samantha Lee, a program director in the Graduate School’s Office of Grants and Fellowships, to develop a strong proposal. Adnani met Lee when Lee taught a session of the Keough School’s Career Colloquium, a professionally focused, two-year course for master of global affairs students. To prepare for her interview, Adnani used an interview practice tool from the Center for Career Development.

“Niloofar’s award is a great example of how student initiative and effort combined with the resources offered by Notre Dame leads to success,” said Melinda Fountain, associate director for professional development and alumni relations at the Keough School.

“The Bourse &  Bazaar grant will provide me an excellent opportunity to pursue my research interests,” Adnani said. “I am so grateful for the generous support of my thesis advisor, Professor Lopez, as well as Melinda Fountain and the Meruelo Family Center for Career Development.”

Prioritizing the most vulnerable communities, Adnani’s research will examine solutions to alleviate the disastrous impacts of financial and trade sanctions on Iran’s population. Focusing on disadvantaged communities in Iran’s Baluchestan region, her interdisciplinary research aims to introduce the concepts of reparations and reconciliation into sanctions relief, proposing pathways by which non-local partners can redress sanctions harms. Adnani will conduct her research using. the lens of  intersectionality, a concept that refers to the complex and cumulative way that various forms of discrimination overlap and affect people.

“While withdrawing sanctions is necessary, it is not sufficient for building sustainable peace in the region and beyond,” said Adnani, who is from Iran.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Adnani will conduct her research remotely. The output of the research will be published as a Bourse & Bazaar special report by the end of 2020.

Adnani is well positioned to pursue such research. Her multifaceted background in engineering, renewable energy, gender, global affairs, and peace studies includes a BSc in mechanical engineering from Amirkabir University of Technology and graduate-level coursework in women’s studies at Allameh Tabataba’i University.

Before coming to Notre Dame, Adnani organized educational camps for students in underserved parts of Iran, raised funds for school construction projects, and supported the production of handicrafts by the Baluchi people, an ethnic minority group. 

The Bourse & Bazaar Iran Summer Research Grant was also awarded to Timothy Donner (Harvard BA, Cambridge MPhil) who will be writing a major study of Iran’s relations with Central Asia. 

The Keough School’s Master of Global Affairs program prepares its students for skilled, effective leadership and careers in government, nongovernmental and civil society organizations, and the private sector. Current students and MGA alumni represent more than 50 countries from around the globe.


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