In Conversation: The Crisis of Democracy… Domestic and International
Democracy faces challenges. Some might say it is in crisis, both here in the U.S. and around the world. Join us for an informed and insightful conversation with esteemed diplomats and scholars, Mansour Farhang and John Limbert, as they discuss this important issue.
Following the 1979 revolution in Iran, Mansour Farhang served as an adviser to the Iranian foreign ministry and as ambassador to the United Nations. He resigned his ambassadorship in protest when efforts to negotiate the release of the American hostages in Tehran failed. Forced to leave Iran in 1981, he returned to the United States and became a research fellow and lecturer at Princeton University. From 1983 to his retirement in 2014, he taught international relations and Middle Eastern politics at Bennington College in Vermont, where he was awarded the Catherine Osgood Foster Chair for Distinguished Teaching. He is the author of two books and dozens of articles, in English and Persian, published in both academic journals and popular periodicals. His book manuscript titled A Theology in Power: Reflections on the Iranian Revolution, is near completion. He has been a human rights activist and a member of Amnesty International since his undergraduate days in California. Currently, he serves on the advisory board of Human Rights Watch/Middle East and is a member of the Columbia University Middle Eastern Seminar and has been a participant in the seminars of Council on Foreign Relations and Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
John Limbert is a retired foreign service officer and academic. In 2018 he ended twelve years as Class of 1955 Professor of Middle Eastern Studies at the U.S. Naval Academy. During a 34-year diplomatic career, he served mostly in the Middle East and Islamic Africa (including two tours in Iraq), was ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, and served as deputy assistant secretary of state responsible for Iranian affairs. Beginning in 1964, he worked in Iran as a university and high school teacher, and later served at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, where he was held hostage in 1979-81. He has authored numerous books and articles on Middle Eastern subjects. Ambassador Limbert holds the Department of State’s highest award – the Distinguished Service Award – and other department awards, including the Award for Valor, which he received after fourteen months as a hostage in Iran. He also holds the American Foreign Service Association’s Rivkin Award for creative dissent. His foreign languages are Persian, Arabic, and French. He became a member of the American Academy of Diplomacy in 2011.
Serving as moderator is Elizabeth Coleman, one of the country’s leading innovators in higher education and former president of Bennington College. Coleman’s leadership at Bennington College initiated several pioneering curricular programs, most recently the Center for the Advancement of Public Action (CAPA), which invites students to put the world’s most pressing problems at the center of their educations. She has served on several boards and throughout her career she has addressed a wide range of audiences – educators, journalists, designers, and policymakers. A scholar of Shakespeare and Henry James, Coleman graduated with honors from the University of Chicago, where she was a Ford Foundation Scholar. She completed her master’s degree in English and American Literature at Cornell University as a Woodrow Wilson Fellow and received her PhD with distinction at Columbia University, where she was a Woodbridge and President’s Fellow. She has received honorary degrees from the University of Vermont, Hofstra University and The Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.