Aladdin Summer University

Aladdin Summer University:

53 students from 18 countries graduate as "Youth Ambassadors for Peace and Dialogue of Cultures"

• Unprecedented program brings together 53 American, Egyptian, Iranian, Israeli, Jordanian, Lebanese, Palestinian, Syrian, Turkish… to attend lectures by 20 world-class scholars on anti-Semitism, racism, the causes of conflicts and genocide in 20th century Europe and the challenges facing European societies today.

• The International Summer University for Intercultural Leadership is an annual program launched by the Aladdin Project in partnership with 16 prestigious universities in Europe, the United States, the Middle East and Africa, under the patronage of the European Parliament and UNESCO.


Anne-Marie Revcolevschi and BAU President Prof. Yalcin surrounded by students after graduation ceremony

Under the patronage of the European Parliament and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), 53 students from 16 prestigious universities in Europe, the Middle East, the United States and Africa graduated on July 15 at a special ceremony at Bahcesehir University in Istanbul as “Youth Ambassadors for Peace and Dialogue of Cultures”.

The International Summer University for Intercultural Leadership was launched in Istanbul on July 1, bringing together top-performing American, British, French, German, Spanish, Mexican, Iranian, Israeli, Moroccan, Palestinian, Jordanian, Tunisian, Algerian, Senegalese, Syrian, Azeri and Turkish students to learn about the causes of wars and genocides – notably the Holocaust  – in the 20th century Europe, the processes of peace and reconciliation that laid the foundation for the European Union and the challenges facing European societies today.

Each of the 53 students received a certificate of graduation from Bahcesehir University’s President, Prof. Senay Yalcin, and a special certificate from the Aladdin Project President, Anne-Marie Revcolevschi.

“Bahcesehir University is very proud to have hosted this unique program in the city of Istanbul, one of the most beautiful and cosmopolitan cities in the world, that offers a very important opportunity to the students who participate in it,” Prof. Yalcin told the students. “You will leave us today, but the experience of these two weeks will be of great value to you for a very long time.”

Aladdin Project President Anne-Marie Revcolevschi urged the students to continue to work on the subjects that they had learnt and develop their ties to build common projects. “This is not a closing ceremony for this program, but it’s the opening for a whole new opportunity in front of all of you.”

Anadolu Kültür President Osman Kavala underlined the significance of the initiative taking place in Istanbul at an important juncture for democracy in this country, while Aladdin Project Executive Director Abe Radkin praised the students for the spirit of openness, dialogue and mutual respect that they had displayed throughout the program.

For two weeks, students attended lectures by 20 world-class scholars and visited some of the historic sites of Istanbul. In addition to lectures and discussion in classes, one of the cornerstone and main challenge of this international summer university was to have students work together to achieve a common goal while providing them with an opportunity to keep in touch and continue their discussion and cooperation beyond the two week program in Istanbul. The students were therefore separated into different groups to work on a common research project and submitted a research proposal at the end of the summer course.


Prof. Arnd Bauerkämper from Berlin's Freie Universität giving a lecture on "European Reconciliation Processes after WWII as an International Model?"

This initiative designed by the academic committee, co-chaired by Prof. Abdou Filali Ansary and Prof. Tudor Parfitt, was placed under the direction of Prof. Nilufer Narli, Chair of the Sociology department at Bahcesehir University. The themes of the projects ranged from “Democracy and Human Rights”, “Ethical Governance and Transparency”, “Ethnic Minorities”, “Human Dignity” and “Memory and Identity” to “Religion, State and Society” and “Racism and Discrimination”. Working under the supervision of tutors, students in groups of four chose research question such as “Can the Franco-German peace process be used as a model to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?”; “Transition to democracy and its shortcomings with regard to the protection of minorities: the case of Tunisia”; “The Kurdish diaspora in Europe and its increasingly visible role in the reconciliation process in Turkey” and “The impact of the ‘Arab Spring’ on Tunisia and Egypt: a comparison”, as well as social analysis of more recent events such as “the Gap between Mainstream and Civil Media Through the Representation of Gezi Parkı Protest in Turkey”

Prof. Jacques Sémelin from the Paris Institute for Political Studies explains the international community's mixed record in preventing mass violence after the Holocaust


On the last day of the program, each group presented their research project and question in front of an academic committee comprising Professor Anne-Pauwels, Dean of the School of Oriental and African Studies (University of London), Professor Antonia Soulez of the University of Paris VIII, Professor Yilmaz Esmer and Professor Nilufer Narli of Bahcesehir University. Students will submit their final project papers for evaluation by an international jury on October 1, 2013. The top three groups will receive their awards at a special ceremony at the European Parliament from its President, Martin Schulz and will be given the chance to present their research to some members of the European Parliament.

Sixteen prestigious universities have joined this unique international program, organized by the Paris-based Aladdin Project in cooperation with Bahcesehir University and Turkish NGO Anadolu Kültür, that seeks to equip tomorrow’s leaders with the knowledge and skills required for the pursuit of a successful career in today’s culturally diverse and globally-connected work environments.

Participating in the program were New York University, Florida International University, the George Washington University, Sciences Po Paris, Freie Universität in Berlin, Geneva’s Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies (University of London), University of Mohammed V Rabat (Morocco), Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv University, Al-Quds University, University of Tunis Manouba, University of Ain Shams Cairo, University of Euro-Africa (Senegal), University of Bogaziçi and University of Bahcesehir.

In granting the European Parliament’s high patronage to this initiative, EP President Martin Schulz said that the purpose of the International Summer University for Intercultural Leadership “resonates strongly with both the history and the aims of the European Parliament… [as it] will bring together a wide array of young people to both broaden their intercultural experience and promote peace, mutual respect and intercultural dialogue.”

Next year’s program will focus on “East-West: relations between the West and the Muslim world”. Speaking on behalf of the Academic Committee, Prof. Yilmaz Esmer described the level of project presentations by the students as “outstanding” and said he was confident that the program, being indispensable, innovative and inspiring, would continue for many years to come.


A memorable boat trip on the Bosphorus

Training a new generation of leaders, committed to peace and diversity.

The International Summer University brings together top-performing students from Europe, the Middle East, Israel, Africa and the United States to study, conduct research, have fun and live together for two weeks and become part of an intercultural network.

Your donations help us to develop this unique program and inculcate a new generation of leaders with the values of peace, human dignity and respect for others.