On the nature of resiliency in a systematically oppressed population; the existence and growth of the Bahá'í Institute of Higher Education exemplify perseverance and resistance under intergenerational pressure; a non-violent approach to seeking justice.
Abstract: Iran's Bahá'í community is the country's largest religious minority and has been systematically oppressed since its founding in 1844. Bahá'ís are barred from higher education in Iran and the Bahá'í community has responded to this formal exclusion by establishing their own underground university known as the Bahá'í Institute of Higher Education (BIHE). BIHE's existence and growth exemplify perseverance and resilience under intergenerational pressure and makes for an excellent case study to examine resiliency and resistance. Using qualitative methodologies, this thesis investigates the nature of resiliency among 15 BIHE alumni. Many theories of resiliency do not adequately account for how resiliency is modeled and adopted. This study proposes that resiliency is a socially embedded process that propels both the individual and the community forward. Additional themes that emerged in defining resiliency included developing individual characteristics, advancing resources within the community, improving circumstances, tools of resistance, a non-violent approach, and seeking justice.