An Education in Action – The Black Sea Venture
King’s Students Discuss Issues with Turkish Leaders
NEW YORK, June 21, 2010—Sitting in the office of a prominent member of the Turkish Parliament, Junior Annie Clark couldn’t help but be impressed where the group of students, faculty, staff, and alumni traveling in Turkey had been able to go in just a few short weeks. Conversations with figures like the minister—this one focused on the push for a new civilian-based constitution to replace the current militarized one—were becoming commonplace for the trip.
“We had a great discussion with him about religion and politics,” Annie said. “He thinks that religion should be personal, and if you want to be a religious person in politics, that’s fine. He said he can compartmentalize it and keep it out of his political sphere.”
The team spent three weeks engaging in such discussions as part of the Black Sea Venture, one of the International Ventures at The King’s College. The team visited students, faculty, administrators, and politicians in Istanbul, Ankara, and Cappadocia with the intent of researching the political and economic situation in Turkey and developing future partnership opportunities for King’s in the region.
The Black Sea Venture allowed King’s students to put their education into high gear, and to see the real-world implications of what they learn in the classroom. “In every conversation, we would end up talking about the relationship between democracy and liberty,” Annie said, “or how much the government should be involved in getting you a job after you graduate.”
International Ventures are strategic projects organized to enable students and faculty members to grapple with political, philosophical, and economic issues in international contexts, and to interact with current and future leaders of nations around the world.
In addition to the member of Parliament, the team was able to meet with Deans and other academic administrators from various Business and Economics faculty at several prominent universities in Turkey.
Eric Bennett, Dean of Students at King’s, also visited Turkey with the International Ventures Team. He said that a highlight of the trip was seeing “students talking about economic and political ideas at Boğaziçi University, the Harvard of Turkey, because you could see them using the ideas that they had learned about at King’s and presenting themselves in a winsome way.”
Dean Bennett was also impressed with the way King’s students engaged national leaders in Turkey. “We met with politicians, a former employee of the International Monetary Fund, a columnist, lawyers, as well as students from top universities,” he said. “Our students were interacting with these people in a meaningful way.”
The goal of the Black Sea Venture, Dean Bennett said, was for the team to return with several options for moving forward with partnerships between The King’s College and Turkish universities. Some of these options include a study abroad program and an economics conference in Istanbul or New York City.
The team from The King’s College also spent many hours sitting in deep discussion with Turkish students. Their conversations over cups of steaming çay (tea) ranged from the state of world affairs, to the role of religious freedom in a secular state, and beyond.
“Almost everyone that we talked to for any amount of time would say that we weren’t normal Americans,” Annie said. “They were surprised that we were actually concerned about what’s going on in the world.”
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