Aladdin Summer University


Learning from the past to build a better future

Objectives & Audience

The International Summer University for intercultural leadership is an annual initiative that aims at bringing together students from Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and the USA in order to develop their intercultural skills and give them the opportunity to understand and integrate the values and objectives settled by the Aladdin Project, and better contribute to their achievement.

The Aladdin Project has launched the initiative with two Turkish Institutions, Anadolu Kültür (Turkish NGO and co-organizer) Bahçesehir University of Istanbul (co-organizer) and with the collaboration of twelve partner universities.

-       New York University (USA)

-       Sciences Po Paris (France)

-       School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London (UK)

-       Freie Universität Berlin (Germany)

-       Tel Aviv University (Israel)

-       Al-Quds University (Palestinian Authority)

-       Mohamed V University (Morocco)

-       University of Tunis (Tunisia)

-       Bogazici University (Turkey)

-       Bahçesehir University (Turkey)

-       Dakar University (Senegal)

-       Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (Switzerland)

These partner universities will contribute to the program by selecting students, ensuring geographical, cultural, and gender balance, and sending one or two professors who will be part of the teaching staff in the following disciplines: European history, psychology, international relations, cultural studies, political propaganda, peace and conflict studies, sociology, international law (with particular focus on international humanitarian law), demography and anthropology. The teaching staff is itself supervised by an academic committee made of experts coming from different countries and responsible the definition and coherence of the curriculum.


  • 2013: “XXth Century Europe: from mass violence to European construction”

The first International Summer University of the Aladdin Project took place from 1st to 15th July 2013, in Bahcesehir University, Istanbul, Turkey. A total of 48 young American, British, French, German, Israeli, Moroccan, Palestinian, Tunisian, Senegalese, Iranian, Lebanese, Syrian and Turkish students followed a series of courses and lectures from renowned university professors on the history of mass violence in 20th century Europe, conflict resolution, cultural diversity and pluralism.

The housing and travel fees, room hire costs, tuition fees and other expenses were covered by the Aladdin Project, Bahcesehir University and Anadolu Kültür.


  • 2014: “Religion, peace and conflicts in XXIst Century”

The second International Summer University took place from 1st to 13th of July 2014, at the Free University of Berlin (Freie Universität). 60 students participated to the program this year, coming from Egypt, France, Germany, Indonesia, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Tunisia and Turkey. As for last year’s edition, all expenses were covered by the Aladdin Project, the Free University of Berlin and their partners.

Along with our previous partner universities, several new universities joined our program and sent us some of their students this year:

-          Harvard University (Etats-Unis) ;

-          University of Columbia (Etats-Unis) ;

-          University of Sapienza (Italie) ;

-          Salahaddin University (Kurdistan - Irak) ;

-          Centre d’étude Al-Mesbar (Arabie saoudite).


International Summer University for International Leadership 2015

In 2015, the program took place in Cappadocia, Turkey from July 19 to August 2, 2015 on the theme “The Power of Images: Truth, Manipulation and Intolerance” with a series of lectures by eminent scholars in the field. Through team projects and group discussions groups, the program allowed students to openly debate different world views around a specific theme and to find common paths that lead to mutual understanding and tolerance.


The Power of Images: Truth, Manipulation and Intolerance

With the advent of mass media and the internet, the modern world has shifted from a print culture to a visual culture: a new age of image-centered communication has begun. In this transition, the use of analogical thinking has also shifted from verbal metaphors to visual ones. This shift is particularly evident in the use of intercultural communication. This year’s program explores the power of images as a basic and indispensable tool of cultural interaction: how images are processed, how they function in relation to our innermost beings, and how they form the psychological fabric of our political, social, and economic environment. There will be a focus on the role of the various media in creating the images which impact our lives: how visual images create a language with profound psychological meaning, and how print, television, film and the newly-arrived social media manipulate images to create desired emotional effects. We will look at the most controversial areas of image persuasiveness today — advertising, politics, and entertainment. Cutting across many disciplines (psychology, politics, history, sociology, law, religious studies, journalism…), the course will be done in the form of a lecture series combined with active participation by students in the form of project presentations and discussion groups.


Program content

The course was designed for students who had a background or a strong interest in the following disciplines (social science, political science, international relations, sociology, international law, anthropology, peace and conflict studies). Lectures and workshops were organized in English by professors and academics who came from each partner university.


The course includes

Morning lectures on the following topics:

-   Image and representation of the Other throughout history

-   Role of images and media in creating acceptance, or fostering differences, hatred

-   Authoritarianism, radicalism, extremism

-   Images and the shaping of a culture or religion

-   Images, archives and history

-   Forbidden/authorized images (why? Can we show everything? Should we show everything?)

-   Media and images in today’s globalized world (omnipresence of images as tools to depict reality)

-   Terrorism and use of media (ISIL, etc…)

-   New media and social media

-   Self-perception and self-promotion (generation selfie and social media)


Afternoon workshop and visits

-    In depth and small group research / study of selected issues addressed during morning lectures

-    Visits of Cappadocia

-    A range of extra-curricular activities


Research project

Students were also divided into groups reflecting different countries and cultural backgrounds, to work together on a common research project. Each group  presented a draft plan by the end of the summer university. 

Each group presented a project plan before the end of the summer school. The research projects were submitted for evaluation by an international jury in October 2015.



JULY 24 – AUGUST 5, 2016 


 UNEC campus in Guba


The forth International Summer University for Intercultural Leadership was organized in Baku and Guba, two Azerbaijani cities, from July 24 to August 5, on the theme “Migration and the Future of Intercultural Relations”.

The International Summer University for Intercultural Leadership is an annual program organized by the Aladdin Project under the patronage of UNESCO. This year’s program was organized with the support of the European Union Erasmus + program and the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Azerbaijan.



JULY 24 – 31, 2017 


The fifth International Summer University for Intercultural Leadership was organized in Baku and Gakh, two Azerbaijani cities, from July 24 to July 31 2017, on the theme “Intercultural dialogue in the context of religious and cultural diversity”.

The International Summer University for Intercultural Leadership is an annual program organized by the Aladdin Project under the patronage of UNESCO. This year’s program was organized with the support of the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Baku International Multiculturalism Centre.