Honors Travel Seminar: Inquiry in Turkey

Students with Junior TA, Istanbul, January 2023

Inquiry in Istanbul: Honors Travel Seminar to Turkey 2023

Turkey has been a cultural crossroads for millennia: intersection between east and west; place where Asia, Europe, and Middle East overlap; simultaneously site of ancient colonization, powerful empire, and modern nation-state; home to the Great Mother Goddess, cradle of Christianity, and home to Muslim lovers of God. In this course, we engage these overlapping ways of thinking about Turkey, as we explore how individual, communal, and political identities are shaped through invented traditions and symbols, religious discourses, and built-environments.

This course introduces first-year Honors Fellows to the practice of academic inquiry by teaching them how to ask critical questions and develop informed answers. Course instructors introduce Turkey through the lenses of Historical and Religious Studies, and provide opportunities for students to bring their own academic interests into conversation with the places, people, and things we encounter. Among the places we visit are Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Dolmabache Palace, and Markets, the ancient cities of Ephesus and Aphrodisias, Izmir, and the capital city of Turkey, Ankara.

The course is taught by Professors Michael Carignan (History) and Lynn Huber (Religious Studies), along with local guide Sabahattin Canliel. Both instructors have extensive experience teaching abroad and have taken students to Turkey multiple times.

The course is deliberately pitched in the middle of a first-year Honors curriculum in which students have completed Global Studies equipped with conceptual tools for thinking about the world, and before they enter a discipline-based Spring-semester course.  The faculty will model professional curiosity and academic inquiry as we explore the rich historical and religious landscapes of Turkey and the ways in which historical and contemporary residents express identities in a complex and often conflicted environment.

This is a four credit-hour course which counts toward the Civilization category of the CORE requirement. It also counts toward the credits needed for graduation. In select cases, students can count the course toward minors in Classical Studies.

Process of Selection

Participation in this travel seminar is limited to 12-15 students and requires going through an application process (explained once students come to campus). Interested first-year Honors Fellows participate in two-hour seminar at the beginning of the fall semester introducing the course content and academic expectations. After the seminar a preliminary essay is assigned, and seminar participants are selected based upon their performance in the seminar and the essay.

Students who are accepted are required to meet regularly with instructors in the fall semester and on campus for two weeks before departure in January. While in Turkey, students complete regular readings related to the course, learn from instructors on-site, participate in academic discussions, complete a daily journal, and maintain a course blog. Upon return, students develop a possible research topic related to the course content and write an essay drawing together insights from experiences abroad.

Eligibility and Cost

Fellows will receive approximately 75% funding towards course costs, and will be expected to pay the remaining costs themselves (including meals). Students may apply their one-time Honors Study Away grant to the course. In cases of documented financial need, students may receive more financial support from the Honors Program. Students pay approximately $2,000 ($1,000 if the grant is applied), and balance is due at the end of the fall semester.

Making friends in class (Istanbul, January 2023)