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Study in Istanbul, the Crossroads of Global Civilization

Study in Istanbul, the Crossroads of Global Civilization

Posted: March 18, 2013

Istanbul, Turkey, is an ancient city that has witnessed the rise and fall of the Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman empires over the last two thousand years. While millennia of religions, empires, and cultures have left their mark, the city is home to modern multinational companies such as UPS, GE, and Hewlett Packard—and more than 13 million people.

In June, Barish Ali, assistant professor of English, will lead a group of students to Boğaziçi University in Istanbul to immerse them in Turkey’s cultural history and modern literature.

“Boğaziçi University overlooks the Bosphorus Strait,” said Ali. “We will visit many exciting places, but we will also have time for writing and studying.”

Ali received a $5,000 grant from SUNY’s Office of Global Affairs to develop this program. The grant, which will cover most of the student activities in Istanbul, was one of just two awarded.

The four-week program includes two courses, HUM 100: Istanbul -The Crossroads of Civilization and ENG 320: Turkish and Arabic Literature. The first week will be an online preparation session. Ali, whose family is Turkish Cypriot, plans to use the city as the primary classroom.

“In Istanbul, we will be able to consider philosophy, religious studies, literature, and history from many perspectives,” said Ali. “We will also visit Ephesus, an ancient Greek city in Turkey.”

Studying abroad is becoming an important part of earning a bachelor’s degree. But why choose Istanbul, Turkey?

In many ways, the country embodies the fundamental conflicts that are central to the twenty-first century: modernity versus old traditions and secularism versus religious fundamentalism. “Istanbul is situated between Europe and Asia not just in its location,” Ali said, “but also in its culture, religion, and history. As a westernized Islamic country, it presents a unique political system.”

Ali believes that the course will help students decide their future academic and career paths. “Many students ask me about going abroad to teach English,” he said. “This experience gives them a chance to see if they really would enjoy a long assignment in a completely different culture.”

Students from all disciplines and levels who are in good academic standing are invited to apply. The application deadline is April 15, but early application is recommended. The class starts on June 24 and departs for Istanbul on June 29.

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