Workshop in Istanbul Sparks Discussion on Regional Geopolitical Developments and Press Freedom

October 04, 2013

A one-day workshop on press freedom and geopolitical developments in the Middle East and Turkey brought together a distinguished group of more than 20 regional and international scholars, journalists, and researchers. Held in Istanbul on Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013, the workshop was co-convened by the Columbia Global Centers | Turkey and the Columbia Global Centers | Middle East.

The workshop was meant to allow for a discussion on recent political events, with a focus on Syria, Egypt, and Turkey, as well as the current state(s) of press freedom across the region and within a global context. It featured contributions by Columbia President Lee C. Bollinger; Professor Safwan M. Masri, Vice President for Global Centers; Steve Coll, Dean of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism; Nicholas Lemann, Professor and former dean of the Journalism School, and Ipek Cem Taha, Director of the Columbia Global Centers | Turkey.

The workshop was divided into three main sessions: one on recent regional geopolitical developments, with a focus on Syria and Egypt, a second session focused solely on the recent upheavals in Turkey as well as the country’s internal politics and foreign policy; and finally, a third exploring the issue of press freedom in the region within a global agenda.

Among some of the participants were: Patrick Cockburn, Middle East Correspondent and Columnist at The Independent; David Gardner, Associate Editor at the Financial Times, Lebanon; Hazem Kandil, University Lecturer in Political Sociology; and Fellow at St. Catharine’s College, University of Cambridge; Gilles Kepel, Professor of Political Science at Sciences Po; Nuray Mert, Columnist at Hurriyet Daily News and Professor of International Relations at Istanbul University, Ustun Erguder, Emeritus Professor at Sabanci University and Director of the Educational Reform Initiative at the Istanbul Policy Center, Roger Cohen, Columnist at The New York Times; Amal Ghandour, author and blogger from Lebanon; and Memduh Karakullukcu, Vice-Chairman and President of the Global Relations Forum.

This workshop is envisioned as one of the first in a series of meaningful conversations, events and symposia that will be spearheaded by the Columbia Global Centers to engage more thoroughly in the cities and regions in which centers are located, and to explore how Columbia University—with its diverse intellectual capacities—may positively contribute to global developments and challenges.