East meets West in new Istanbul Civ program for Spring 2013

The University adds its 17th Civilizations study abroad program in Istanbul, Turkey.

By Sarah Morell

This spring, U of C students can add Istanbul, Turkey, to their study abroad options, at a time when the University is constantly changing its turbulent Middle East programs and has discarded Cape Town as an option.

The civilization studies program in Istanbul will be offered for the first time in Spring 2013. Lewis Fortner, Associate Dean of Students in the College, announced the program on August 3 via e-mail. Due to the sudden announcement, applications were due September 17 and restricted to students not already enrolled in study abroad for Spring 2013.

This one-quarter program will fulfill the Core Civilization requirements, joining the ranks of 16 other programs spanning Central America, Africa, Asia, and Europe. It will consist of three consecutive three-week courses in Middle Eastern civilizations and a fourth quarter-long course in the Turkish language. The faculty signed on for Spring 2013 are Emanuel Mayer of the Classics Department, Walter Kaegi of the History Department, and Cornell Fleischer of the Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations Department.

Yildiz Technical University, located in the historic neighborhood of Besiktas, will open its campus and resources to the program, according to the study abroad website.

“The program will focus on Istanbul’s unique position in the European-Middle Eastern world with a focus on the ancient Byzantine and Ottoman Empires,” Elana Kranz, program coordinator for the Istanbul program, said in an e-mail.

Istanbul is the third Middle Eastern Civilizations program, in addition to iterations in Cairo and Jerusalem. Meanwhile, with the elimination of the quarter in Capetown, the University will no longer have dots on the map for study abroad opportunities in sub-Saharan Africa, South America, or the Australian continent.

Students offered a place in the Istanbul program have until Oct. 1 to decide if they want to accept. Fourth year Muhammad Shareef is currently balancing his desire to travel with preparing for medical school.

“As a Muslim myself, it’s a very culturally rich part of the world. It’s the only country that spans two continents,” he said. “I haven’t fully accepted the program yet because I’m still considering whether I want to forego my last spring here, but at the same time that opportunity is very unique.”