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BOSP to launch new winter quarter program in Istanbul

The Bing Overseas Studies Program (BOSP), in partnership with Koç University, is planning a new winter quarter program in Istanbul, Turkey.

Scheduled to launch in January 2015, the program will include courses from a range of fields and may even offer students the chance to room with Turkish students who attend Koç University.

According to Irene Kennedy, associate vice provost and executive director of BOSP, there has been a considerable amount of student demand for a program in the Middle East, with 155 applications received for the 15 spots in the 2012 summer Overseas Seminar in Istanbul.

Courtesy of Stanford News Service

Courtesy of Stanford News Service

Koç University will provide classrooms, housing, field trips and cultural programs for Stanford students in the new winter program. According to Kennedy, the partnership came about through a connection with Koç University president, Umran Inan Ph.D. ’77, a Stanford professor emeritus of electrical engineering.

Kennedy said this partnership program is the beginning of a trend in BOSP initiatives.

“It is a different model for us in that we are partnering with another university, and we are not building the infrastructure that we normally build when we open up a center,” she said. “I think you’ll see more flexible programs.”

Ramon Saldivar, director of BOSP, explained that the winter program is part of a larger effort to balance the availability of study abroad offerings throughout the year.

“The hope is that Istanbul will be successful and popular and we will expand to other quarters, but for now we thought that this was a quarter that fit well for Koç and for us as well,” Saldivar said.

According to Inan, a big challenge so far has been trying to integrate the quarter-long program into Koç University’s semester system.

“We had to work hard at this because, I think, obviously the semester and quarter systems may appear to be incompatible,” he said.

However, despite these challenges, he expects the students to feel comfortable with the program. Inan said the environment the Turkish students are in is similar to that of Stanford because 90 percent of the faculty obtained their Ph.D. from an American university.

“But [it is] very different at the same time,” Inan said. “So there’s a comfort of knowing that your feet are on the ground, but you are also so close to incredible diversity in terms of culture and history.”

Inan and BOSP administrators share high hopes for the new program.

“I’m hoping basically that the program will not only attract students, but will attract much more student numbers than we are initially expecting, so we may even have to do this in the fall quarter,” he said.

Meanwhile, BOSP is currently working with faculty at Koç to develop curriculum. According to Kennedy, the biggest challenge is selecting which courses will be taught as well as the disciplines that the courses will fall under.

Saldivar added that the courses offered would be from a variety of fields.

“We’re looking to have an exciting, interesting and challenging set of courses that really cover the broad spectrum that Stanford students are used to,” he said.

In early November, Saldivar will meet with a committee of Stanford faculty interested in the program to discuss potential course offerings.

Contact Brittany Torrez at btorrez ‘at’ stanford.edu.