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Columbia University Redefines the Boundaries of Research at its Global Center in Istanbul

October 20, 2016
 
Political unrest and socioeconomic transformations on a global scale require a new level of engagement with the world and an even deeper understanding of local dynamics," says Professor Safwan Masri, Executive Vice President for Global Centers and Global Development at Columbia University. "In Turkey, our Columbia Global Center has become a pioneer in researching a region in crisis."
 
Founded in 2011, Columbia Global Centers | Istanbul is one of eight Global Centers that Columbia has established around the world. The Centers are regional hubs for research and the exchange of knowledge on topics ranging from the refugee crisis and human rights to entrepreneurship, arts, and culture. The Istanbul Center connects scholars, researchers, students, and civil society organizations through numerous programs and events, enabling Columbia faculty and students to engage with Turkey and its surrounding region.
 
"The wide range of programs we offer help faculty and students redefine their areas of interest in a more informed way," says Ipek Cem Taha, Director of the Istanbul Center. "The Center also plays an important role in making local knowledge and expertise part of a global conversation, creating meaningful exchange and collaboration."
 
Last week, the Istanbul Center, together with Columbia's Global Center in Amman, explored the current refugee crisis with a symposium on Columbia's campus in New York on "Strengthening the Refugee Access, Equity and Inclusion: Developing a New Framework." The symposium addressed the gap between humanitarian response and need, and discussed the role of universities in advancing policy responses. Participants included Columbia faculty, practitioners from the MENA region, and scholars instrumental in exploring refugee movements as a developmental issue. The symposium also showcased new research on how to improve refugees' access to health services, education, and sustainable employment opportunities.
 
The symposium is one among the many initiatives undertaken by the Istanbul Center on refugees:
 
 
  • Together with Helsinki Citizens Assembly and Marmara Municipalities Union, the Center organized an event alongside the First World Humanitarian Summit held in Istanbul on May 23-24, 2016. The panel "Multilateral Perspectives on the Refugee Issue: Dynamics in and around Turkey" addressed the current humanitarian crisis and refugee influx in light of the recent EU-Turkey Agreement, examining in particular the Agreement's current and future implications from a global perspective.
 
  • The Istanbul Center has also partnered with the Asfari Foundation on two refugee initiatives. The first project was a feasibility study on Syrian refugees' access to higher education in Turkey which identified pathways to addressing the main obstacles facing refugee students who wish to attend university. The second project with the Asfari Foundation is a leadership workshop for Syrian women who head civil society organizations in Turkey and Lebanon. The five-day workshop will blend leadership training, self-care, and peer-to-peer support through a series of modules that will be led by experienced facilitators and trainers from the region.
 
 
Human rights is an important focus for the Columbia Global Centers | Istanbul, as are journalism and freedom of expression. Since its establishment, the Center has also offered training programs and hosted many journalists from around the world to help them better understand the dynamics of the region. The Regional Network for Historical Dialogue and Dealing with the Past is another flagship project at the Istanbul Center, and aims to support the cross-fertilization of knowledge and practices related to the struggle for peace and reconciliation in Turkey and the wider region. In June, the Istanbul Center held its second annual Historical Dialogue and Dealing with the Past Summer Training Program, led by Professor Elazar Barkan, Director of the Institute for the Study of Human Rights at Columbia and the Truth Justice Memory Center, a prominent human rights organization in Turkey. The program brought together civil society representatives and graduate students from Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cyprus, Georgia, Iraq, Israel, Lebanon, and Palestine for a one-week training on the tools and concepts related to dealing with the past, including transitional justice, truth and reconciliation, historical dialogue, accountability, memory studies, oral history, and sites of memory.
 
One of the most significant developments in Columbia's research, scholarship, and programming around Turkey is the creation of the Sakıp Sabancı Chair and Center for Turkish Studies at Columbia University thanks to a gift from the family of the late Sakıp Sabancı, a prominent Turkish business leader and philanthropist. As the first center for Turkish Studies in the United States named for its benefactor, the Center for Turkish Studies' goal is to increase knowledge and awareness about Turkey, as well as the country's importance to modern regional affairs, global affairs, and its historical significance.
 
"Even though Turkey has always been an important focus of study at Columbia, the Sakıp Sabancı Chair and Center for Turkish Studies, in partnership with the Istanbul Global Center, will create a new momentum on campus and around the world," says Cem Taha. "At a time when Turkey is being recognized as an even more critical player in world politics, it is our Center's mission, as an important node in Columbia's global network of centers, to foster a better understanding of our region, to address pressing issues of our times, and to create long-lasting impact on a global scale."
 
For more information about the Columbia Global Centers, or to speak with Ipek Cem Taha or Professor Masri, please contactDavia Temin or Suzanne Oaks Brownstein of Temin and Company at +1-212-588-8788 or news@teminandco.com.
 
About Columbia Global Centers
The Columbia Global Centers advance global knowledge and dialogue, connecting the people and resources of Columbia Universitywith experts and local audiences around the world. Located in eight cultural and geopolitical crossroads across the world – Amman, Jordan; Beijing, China; Istanbul, Turkey; Mumbai, India; Nairobi, Kenya; Paris, France; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and Santiago, Chile – the Global Centers are a springboard for Columbia's faculty, students, and alumni to collaboratively engage with local and regional partners. Through cross-cultural and multidisciplinary research and programming with regional scholars and for a variety of audiences, the Centers explore solutions to today's greatest global challenges. To learn more about the Columbia Global Centers, please visitglobalcenters.columbia.edu.
 
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Website: globalcenters.columbia.edu/istanbul  
Facebook: Facebook.com/CGCIstanbul 
Twitter: Twitter.com/CGCIstanbul 
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