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Elon and Koç University in Turkey create new study abroad program

A new undergraduate exchange program created this month between Elon University and Koç University in Istanbul, Turkey, will allow students to study abroad in a part of the world steeped with culture, history and art at a time when academic interest in the Middle East is blossoming.

Elon University President Leo M. Lambert and Koç University President Umran Inan signed the agreement during an Elon delegation’s visit to Istanbul. University leaders say the agreement is the foundation for a deep partnership that may ultimately involve faculty exchanges and research collaboration.

Founded in 1993 with resources from the Vehbi Koç Foundation, Koç University enrolls about 4,300 students and is considered one of the leading research institutions in Turkey. The partnership coincides with the development of Elon’s Middle Eastern Studies minor, which until this spring had only been a concentration for international studies majors.

“We have a growing interest in studying in that area, and classes that teach the Arabic language are full,” said Woody Pelton, dean of international programs at Elon University. “It truly is the divide between the East and the West. Even the city of Istanbul itself is part in Asia and part in Europe connected by ferries and bridges. You have a city that resides in two different continents.”

Pelton joined Lambert and Provost Steven House, as well as professors Maureen Vandermaas-Peeler and Michael Carrigan, in the visit to Koç for the signing. In addition to Koç University, Pelton and House met with Elon University School of Communications Dean Paul Parsons at Yeditepe University in Istanbul, where faculty members are laying the groundwork for a second partnership in the city.

Exchange programs aren’t always easy to coordinate, Pelton said. That’s what makes the similarities between Elon and Koç beneficial for both institutions.

“You’re trying to select a place that students will feel comfortable going, and that we think would be interesting,” he said. “Then we need to find a school that’s a good fit. We need a university that teaches in English, has student housing and a similar academic calendar. Most of the schools in the Middle East don’t. Immediately, your list becomes shorter. Major universities, the big public universities, they’re going to teach (in their native language).”

Exchange students will be enrolled as “non degree” students at the undergraduate level and will be given the same choices of course selection as regularly enrolled students.

For more information on Study Abroad opportunities at Elon University, visit the Isabella Cannon International Centre in the Carlton building or online at www.elon.edu/studyabroad.

Eric Townsend,
7/29/2011 10:36 AM