May 18, 2010
Iranian civic activists received a helping hand this week with the launch of Tavaana: E-learning Institute for Iranian Civil Society. Tavaana, a project of the Center for Liberty in the Middle East (CLIME), offers Iranian democrats online courses and interactive learning tools on civic leadership, democratic institutions, cyber-security and more. Tavaana, meaning "empowered" and "capable" in Persian, holds a vision for a free and open Iranian society, one in which each and every Iranian enjoys the full spectrum of civil and political liberties.
"At this critical juncture, Iranians more than ever yearn to be connected to the free world," said Tavaana founder and director Mariam Memarsadeghi. "Tavaana offers a safe space for Iranians to collaborate with each other and with the most prominent democracy and civil society experts from around the world."
The Internet has been instrumental to the emergence of a robust, broad based civil society in Iran. A groundswell of civic e-communities is circumventing government censorship to share ideas and organize. Tavaana builds on this newfound cyber-freedom of expression and association by providing e-learning opportunities for Iranian civil society.
Tavaana's e-courses include a graduate level leadership development course from the George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management and a civic education curriculum developed by the Albert Shanker Institute and Freedom House. Prominent Iranian academics and international experts serve as trainers. In addition to e-courses, Tavaana offers case studies of world movements for democracy and human rights, video interviews with Iranian and international civic activists, and translations of civic education curricula, glossaries, dissident writings and more.
CLIME's previously launched Arabic-language Online Activism Institute has been recognized by Politics Online as one of the 'Top Ten Who Are Changing the World of Internet and Politics'. "We are excited for Tavaana to expand on our previous success using e-learning to train civic activists in the Arab world," said CLIME Executive Director Eleana Gordon.
Tavaana is free of charge to all users and available in English and Persian, with both self-paced and live instruction versions of e-courses. Tavaana offers a comprehensive, annotated resource library of Persian and English language resources on democracy and human rights. Discussion boards encourage open dialogue on each learning asset, including Tavaana's media monitor on Iranian civil society.
"We welcome the chance to partner with universities, media outlets and civic groups around the world to offer Iranians more coursework on a range of civil society development issues," Ms. Memarsadeghi added. "We hope Tavaana can help to bridge the divide between courageous Iranian civic leaders and those in the free world who wish to support them."