“These proposals are likely to attract broad participation from individuals and NGOs in Iran, in some part due to the political cover among contacts within Iran which Durham has apparently been able to generate.”
It is this ‘political cover’ that suggests the ulterior motives of the U.S State Department’s interest in these seminars.
Other former and current members of the department have been heavily criticized for a workshop on Iran, funded by the Iranian embassy for which all the speakers (besides the Embassy ones) eventually pulled out. Again, this was heavily criticized by certain students. See: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/feb/10/iranian-f…
Mysteriously, one of the people mentioned in the article, Reza Molavi, has now disappeared from being mentioned on the department’s website.