Past Event

The Birth of the Modern University in Turkey and Japan

March 16, 2021
7:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Zoom link below

12pm New York - 7pm Istanbul 

The panel will reconsider the emergence of the first modern universities in Turkey and Japan within the comparative framework of both countries’ respective paths to political modernization. The panelists will shed light on why the constitution of a modern university was central to political reform during the Tanzimat Era and the Meiji Restoration and will explore multiple ways in which the idea of creating a learned community occupied the thinking of reformers in both countries.

Prof. Dr. Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu 

Prof. İhsanoglu has been a pioneering figure in the studies and researches in the field of History of Science in Islam. He has been working on three main subjects since late 70’s that never quote the attention of scholars either from the Muslim world or the Western world. The first is about the scientific activities of the late centuries (14-19) and he introduced the concept of Ottoman science for the first time, determined its definition, and ensured it to be accepted as an academic discipline through his groundbreaking studies. The second is a very important subject of the introduction of modern science and technology to the Muslim world and the attitude of the Muslim scholars which is still a vital question and the third is about the history of institutions of science in Islam. Prof. İhsanoglu supervised many international projects sponsored by UNESCO and IRCICA; Master and Ph.D. thesis’s on History of Science in Islam particularly. His publications and academic activities were appreciated by many international awards. Among them Alexandre Koyre Medal in History of Science given by the International Academy of History of Science (Paris, 2008). He also has been awarded by 20 honorary doctorates and professorships from different European, American, Russian, and Islamic universities. Most significant among these honorary doctorates in History of Science is from Galileo Chair at Padua University in Italy. The International Union of History and Philosophy of Science and Technology established for the first time, an international award in the name of Prof. İhsanoglu to given to the best Ph.D. in the field of History of Science in Islam since 2009. Prof. İhsanoglu was a founder and co-founder of many institutions in this field. For more information on those institutions and Prof.İhsanoğlu’s main publications, please visit the website. 

  • Founder of the first independent department in History of Science in Istanbul University, Turkey, 1984.
  • Founder and first Director-General of IRCICA between 1980-2004 where he established and edited series of research projects on science in Islam including 18 volumes of Ottoman Scientific Literature.
  • Founder and Honorary President of Turkish Society for History of Science established in 1989. 
  • Co-founder of the Commission on History of Science and Technology in Islamic Societies in 1989 Hamburg under the International Union of History and Philosophy of Science and Technology. 
  • President of the International Union of History and Philosophy of Science and Technology between 2001-2005. 

Prof. Ihsanoglu has authored, co-authored and edited many volumes on different aspect of culture and science in Islam which has been published in many languages; English Turkish, Arabic, Russian, Persian, Bosnian, Albanian, etc. 

Main publications include: 

  • Ekmeleddin İhsanoglu and, Ottoman Scientific Literature (scientific disciplines such as Astronomy, Mathematics, Geography, Music, Medicine, natural and applied sciences, military art and science, astrology etc.) 18 volume
  • Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu and B. Rosenfeld, Mathematicians, Astronomers, and Other Scholars of Islamic Civilization and Their Works (7th – 19th v.). İstanbul: IRCICA, 2003.
  • Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, The House of Sciences: The First Modern University in the Muslim World, Oxford University Press, 2019.
  • Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, Ottoman Scientific Heritage, (in Arabic), Al-Furqan Foundation, London, 2020
  • Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu (ed.). Transfer of Modern Science and Technology to the Muslim World. İstanbul: IRCICA, 1992.
  • Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu. Science, Technology and Learning in the Ottoman Empire: Western Influence, Local Institutions, and the Transfer of Knowledge. Oxon: Ashgate, 2003. 
  • Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu (chief ed. & co-author). History of the Ottoman State, Society and Civilisation, 2 vols. İstanbul: IRCICA, 2001-2002. (Including detailed two chapters on scientific institutions and literature) (available in Turkish, English, Arabic, Russian, Persian, Albanian & Bosnian languages).
    • Ottoman Educational and Scholarly Scientific Institutions, p.357-515
    • Ottoman Scientific Scholarly Literature, p. 517-603
  • Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu (edited & introduction by), Cultural contacts in building a universal civilisation: Islamic Contributions, İstanbul: IRCICA, 2005.
  • Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu (chief ed. & co-author). The Different Aspects of Islamic Culture, Volume Five: Culture and Learning in Islam. (English Edition), Paris: UNESCO, 2003; Ankara: Kültür ve Turizm Bakanlığı, 2008 (Turkish Edition).
  • Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, "Introduction of Western Science to the Ottoman World: A Case Study of Modern Astronomy (1660-1860)", Transfer of Modern Science and Technology to the Muslim World: Proceedings of the International Symposium on "Modern Science and the Muslim World", editör (edited by), Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, İstanbul: Research Centre for Islamic History, Art and Culture, 1992'nin içinde, 67-120.
  • “Science in the Ottoman Empire”, Ottoman Civilization / edited by), Halil İnalcık ve Günsel Renda.- Ankara: Milli Kütüphane Yayınları, 2003, c.1, 318-343.
  • "Ottomans and European Science", Science and Empires, edited by Patrick Petitjean... et al., Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1992, 37-48.
  • “Scholars of Andalusian Origin and Their Contribution to Ottoman Science”, Suhayl: International Journal for the History of the Exact and Natural Sciences in Islamic Civilization, vol.14, 2015, 9-48. 
  • “Orthodox Christian Physicians and Scholars in the Ottoman Court”, Orthodox Christianity and Modern Science Tensions, Ambiguities, Potential, V. N. Makrides, G. E. Woloschak (eds.), Brepols Publisher, 2019 
  •  “Modernization Efforts in Science, Technology and Industry in the Ottoman Empire (18th and 19th Centuries),” The Introduction of Modern Science and Technology to Turkey and Japan: International Symposium October 7-11, 1996, edited by Feza Günergun ve Kuriyama Shigehisa, Tokyo: International Research Center for Japanese Studies, p.15-35. (9570) 
  • “Institutions of Science Education: Classical” The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Science, and Technology in Islam, edited by İbrahim Kalın, cilt 2, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014, pp. 386-397
  • “Emergence of the Ottoman Medrese Tradition” Archivum Ottomanicum.- cilt: 25 (2008), [283]-338. 
  • “Institutionalisation of Science in the Medreses of pre-Ottoman and Ottoman Turkey” Turkish Studies in History and Philosophy of Science / edited by, Gürol Irzık and Güven Güzeldere.- Netherlands: Springer, 2005, 265-283. 
  • “Ottoman Educational Institutions”, Ottoman Civilization / editör (edited by), Halil İnalcık ve Günsel Renda.- Ankara: Milli Kütüphane Yayınları, 2003’ün içinde, c.1, 344-385. 
  • “The Birth of the Tradition of Printed Books in the Ottoman Empire: Transition from Manuscript to Print 1729-1848, (Hatice Aynur ile birlikte), Archivum Ottomanicum, 24 (2007): 165-196. 
  • “Islam and Modern Science” Science and Religion around the World /edited by John Hedley Brooke and Ronald L. Numbers, New York: Oxford University Press, 2011, pp.148-174. 
  • Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu (Edited and Introduction by), an Arabic biographical dictionary of 17th century by Katip Çelebi, سلم الوصول إلى طبقات الفحول Sullam al-Wusul ila Tabaqat al-Fuhul (The Ladder of Elevation to the Lives of the Great and Famous by Generation) Istanbul: IRCICA, 2010, 6 volumes. 
  • John Brooke & Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu (ed.). Religious Values and the Rise of Science in Europe. Istanbul: IRCICA, 2005.

Prof. Selçuk Esenbel 

Selçuk Esenbel is Professor Emerita at Boğaziçi University Department of History in Istanbul, Turkey. She is the Founding Director and presently Academic Coordinator of the Asian Studies Center, and the Master of Arts in Asian Studies at Bogazici University. Since 2013, she is also part-time Professor of History at 29 May University in Istanbul. She was born in 1946 in Washington D.C. as the child of a diplomatic family, she finished high school in the American School in Japan and attended the International Christian University studying Japanese and East Asian Studies. She graduated from George Washington University in History and after an M.S. in Japanese Language and Linguistics from Georgetown University, received her Ph.D. in Japanese History from the Department of East Asian Studies and Cultures at Columbia University. Esenbel has published many articles in various professional journals as well as a number of books on the history of Asia with a particular focus on Japanese history. Her research interests cover Japan and the world of Islam, Japanese pan-Asianism, modernization in Japan and Ottoman Turkey, peasant uprisings in Meiji Japan, and Japanese-Ottoman/Turkish relations. Esenbel is the recipient of various awards, like the Order of the Rising Sun, Japan Foundation Special Prize for Japanese Studies, Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs special award for the promotion of Japanese-Turkish academic relations, and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation George Forster research award. 

Main publications include: 

  • Japan on the Silk Road: Encounters and Perspectives of Politics and Culture in Eurasia, editor, Brill, 2018. 
  • Japan, Turkey, and the World of Islam, Brill, 2011. 
  • “Japan’s Global Claim to Asia and the World of Islam: Transnational Nationalism and World Power 1900-1945”, The American Historical Review, 2004, October,
  • The Rising Sun and the Turkish Crescent: New Perspectives of Japanese-Turkish Relations, Bogazici University Press, 2003 with Inaba Chiharu.
  • Even the Gods Rebel: Peasants of Takaino and the 1871 Nakano Uprising, Association for Asian Studies Monographs, 1998.