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BC to Explore Study, Research in Turkey

“There is an opportunity for students to take greater advantage of study in locations that are not the typical choices. By introducing faculty to these areas and supporting their interests, we hope to spur interest at the undergraduate level.” –Nick Gozik (Photo by Lee Pellegrini)

By Ed Hayward | Chronicle Staff

Published: May 20, 2015

A group of eight faculty will travel to the Republic of Turkey next month to meet with academic, political, cultural and religious leaders as part of an Office of International Programs initiative to expand research and study opportunities for faculty and students in less frequently visited countries.

OIP Director Nick Gozik said the overseas faculty seminar is part of a strategy to increase student interest in countries that are underrepresented among undergraduate study-abroad destinations. Faculty visits can foster institutional relationships and inform research and teaching that generate student interest in regions such as Africa, Central and Latin America, and the Middle East, he added.

“There is an opportunity for students to take greater advantage of study in locations that are not the typical choices,” said Gozik, who also directs the McGillycuddy-Logue Center for Undergraduate Global Studies. “By introducing faculty to these areas and supporting their interests, we hope to spur interest at the undergraduate level.”

When faculty members return to campus, they will incorporate what they’ve learned into the courses they teach, he said.
It’s a new approach to international programs, according to Gozik. For faculty, the seminar provides a short-term professional development opportunity without the need for a fellowship or sabbatical leave.

An itinerary that includes visits to historic sites, university lectures, and meetings with leading members of Turkish society will immerse faculty for 10 days in the life of a country of nearly 80 million people, located at the crossroads of Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

The group will visit the cities of Istanbul and Izmir and the Cappadocia region, meeting with academics, journalists, politicians, human rights advocates, and community-based organizations. The trip includes stops at religious sites and meetings at Melihsah University, Sabanci University and Bogazicin University, the latter of which recently formalized a future collaboration with BC, Gozik said.

Faculty members making the trip are Asst. Prof. Anjali Vats (Communication), Assoc. Prof. of the Practice Tracy Regan (Economics), Prof. Elizabeth Graver (English), Asst. Prof. Ann Lucas (Music), Asst. Prof. Peter Krauss (Political Science), Asst. Prof. Gustavo Morello, SJ, (Sociology) and Assoc. Prof. David Vanderhooft (Theology), from the Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences, and Assoc. Prof. Paul Poteat (Counseling, Developmental and Educational Psychology) from the Lynch School of Education.

Many of the faculty have never been to Turkey, or have had very few personal or professional connections with the country, which offers visitors a fascinating mix of geo-political importance, historical significance and contemporary flair.
Poteat’s research focuses on bias among adolescents and adults and inter-group relations. He is interested in efforts to identify and resolve tensions among different groups within Turkish society.

“I would be especially curious about the experiences of contemporary youth in Turkish society and how they perceive and experience relationships among different groups in society and how they counter prejudice,” he said.

For some professors, the country fits with their research interests. For one, there is a personal connection.

Graver said the trip will contribute to her research for an upcoming novel based on the life of her maternal grandmother, who was born in Istanbul in 1903, during the Ottoman Empire. Graver said international projects have been a boost to her work.
“For both my teaching and writing, I find uprooting myself and landing somewhere far away incredibly invigorating in all kinds of ways,” she said. “This kind of opportunity keeps you from getting stale. You bring back what you’ve learned and it ties into your research, writing and teaching.”

Secularly governed with a predominantly Muslim population, the Turkish republic’s geo-political significance makes it of great interest to the students in Krauss’ political science and international studies classes.

“More and more BC students want to learn new languages, study abroad and study the international community – with interest in the Middle East overwhelmingly high,” said Krauss. “One way to do that is to develop stronger relationships with universities around the world. I’m looking forward to meeting faculty and hopefully in the long term helping to grow BC’s relationship with the country.”

Gozik said an additional benefit is the chance for faculty from different departments at BC to connect with colleagues they may not otherwise have the chance to meet.

“This is a learning experience,” he said. “So it offers opportunities to have great conversations on topics across a range of subjects with faculty from multiple disciplines. That’s an added benefit for faculty attending the seminar and for the University as a whole.”