Stanford plans to launch overseas studies program in Istanbul


In January 2015, Stanford will launch a pilot program in Istanbul, the university’s first overseas studies program in a predominantly Muslim country, Ramón Saldívar, director of the Bing Overseas Studies Program, announced at a recent Faculty Senate meeting.

Saldívar described Istanbul as an extraordinary place whose magical qualities can be discovered simply by walking its streets.

“This course will be a quarter-length course,” he said. “But unlike our other existing quarter-length courses, we’re not actually looking to create a brick-and-mortar site,” added Saldívar, who also is a professor of English and of comparative literature.

Instead, Stanford is partnering with Koç University, a nonprofit private university, which will provide classrooms, housing, field trips and cultural programs under a 10-week contract. Koç teaches all its classes in English. The president of Koç is Umran Inan, a Stanford professor emeritus of electrical engineering.

Leading the program will be Ali Yaycioglu, an assistant professor of Middle East history, and Kabir Tambar, an assistant professor of anthropology.

Yaycioglu, who was born and raised in Ankara, Turkey, is an expert on the Ottoman Empire. He taught a three-week overseas seminar in Istanbul two years ago.

Tambar, whose work examines the intersections of Islam, secularism, the state and religious diversity in Turkey, joined the Stanford faculty in 2012.

The Istanbul program is one of several new initiatives of Bing Overseas Studies. With the addition of the pilot project in Istanbul, Stanford will provide its academic offerings in 12 locations around the world.

Saldívar also announced that the Stanford program in Oxford would be closed during autumn quarter 2014-15 for renovations to Stanford House, a collection of buildings where students live and study. Under the renovation, the university will make parts of the facility more accessible to students with disabilities, modernize student living spaces and add a larger academic space for groups.

This year, Saldívar said, more than 900 Stanford students will be studying overseas under the program, including more than 100 students taking three-week seminars.