- Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School Belfer Center Newsletter

Mahsa Rouhi: Understanding Iran, From the Inside and Out

  • Celia Carbone
| Spring 2018

Mahsa Rouhi’s research bridges the academic and policy worlds on nuclear and international security issues in the Middle East. Having grown up in Iran, she brings a unique perspective to her work.

Rouhi was raised in Tehran, the country’s capital. Her parents converted their home into a private elementary school and she envisioned herself returning to help pioneer innovative education systems. Her years spent in the United Kingdom and United States at university sparked her interest in international relations.

Rouhi joined the Project on Managing the Atom as an intern in 2008 followed by an internship at Harvard Law School. She returned in the 2010-2011 academic year as a predoctoral Stanton Nuclear Security Fellow. Rouhi is currently a postdoctoral research fellow at the International Security Program and Project on Managing the Atom.

“The most difficult part was to separate my feelings towards Iran as my country and my home from an objective academic analysis of the situation,” Rouhi said.

Rouhi believes the insights she gained from living in Iran and studying at a leading university add depth to her work and a deeper understanding of the region and issues of concern internationally.

“What I always hope to have is an impact,” she said. “I want to be able to point my readers to something they have been missing or misinterpreting, for example, when they read about Iran’s nuclear program.”

Political and social issues regarding Iran are often misinterpreted by the media and reinforce negativity about the country, Rouhi said. Growing up and studying in post-revolutionary Iran informs her on-the-ground research and allows her to present a different perspective. At the Belfer Center, she has been working to make her academic work and writing more accessible to policymakers and to a general readership in the United States and Iran.

Rouhi shares her research and ideas with policymakers, including the Iranian ambassador to the United Nations and Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif. She hopes she can draw upon these relationships to facilitate an ongoing dialogue between Iranian experts and U.S. experts at the Belfer Center.

For more information on this publication: Please contact the Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation:

Carbone, Celia. “Mahsa Rouhi: Understanding Iran, From the Inside and Out.” Belfer Center Newsletter. Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School (Spring 2018).

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