HST/HUM/MES 300.1 Istanbul: Crossroad of Civilizations, Past and Present
Co-led by Professors Erika Wilkens-Sozen and Alex Medina, your program will begin by introducing you to one of the world’s most beautiful cities, Istanbul. You’ll see its historical grandeur as the capital of the Byzantine and Ottoman empires, its place as the cultural heart of the new Republic, and as a modern, dynamic megacity.
During the seminar, you will intellectually and physically traverse the city’s nearly three-thousand-year, multi-layered and multi-ethnic history through lectures and visits to key archeological sites, historical monuments, palaces, and places of worship, as well as lesser-known architectural, artistic, and cultural treasures often hidden in the back streets. The seminar also includes classes in Survival Turkish with opportunities during the seminar to start practicing basic greeting and transactions in Turkish.
Your journey will take you outside of Istanbul, tracing its early Greek and Roman roots through the ancient sites of Ephesus or Cappadocia, while simultaneously providing opportunities to meet with ocals and explore regionally diverse cultural practices.
Throughout the seminar, emphasis will be given to the complex interplay between history and modern life, including a look at the changing circumstances and status of Turkey’s religious majority (Sunni Muslim) and her religious and ethnic minorities, including Jewish, Christian, Alevi, and Kurdish people.
The course also provides a pragmatic overview of the city and the various ways to navigate (by subway, bus, taxi, and boat) and discover its many distinct neighborhoods.
All-Program Field Study
Destinations vary semester to semester, but in the past, all-program field trips have been taken to Cappadocia (famous for its early Christian cave monasteries and magical lunar landscapes) to examine the impact of the growing tourist industry on local businesses and cultural practices; the magnificent coastal olive-growing region of Ayvalik, to investigate the significance of olive oil in Ottoman and Turkish cuisine; or to the ancient Roman sites Sagalassos and Termessos in the Taurus Mountains.
Turkey offers an incredibly diverse range of affordable destinations for student travel, including stunning beaches and secluded fishing villages along the Mediterranean, Aegan, and Black Sea coasts, hiking in the mountainous regions, chances to explore some of the best-preserved Roman and Greek ruins in the world, and daily opportunities to experience the delights and delicacies of Turkish cuisine and Turkey’s world-famous hospitality.