A New Ottoman Empire? (55+)

As old alliances fray around the world and the international system splinters, Turkey’s internal security and economy are teetering. Some European leaders insist on political and economic support, while others back continuing sanctions. The risk is that Ankara could slip into a geopolitical abyss. Turkey’s own leaders are reaching for traditional values and remedies. Will Turkey commit itself to Western reform and the NATO alliance? Or will it seek to reconstitute itself as a dominant regional player, forging relations with its Balkan and Middle Eastern neighbours?

After reviewing Turkey’s history as a secular state since the First World War, we will examine the rapid social, political and economic changes in the country—and its neighbours—over the past decade, and consider the implications for the future.

Please note that enrollment in this course is reserved for adults 55+.

Currently not available for registration.

What will I learn?

Week 1: Turkey’s History

A survey of Turkish history from the founding of the secular state in the post-First-World-War decade to the recent rebirth of faith-based and traditional politics. We'll ask how Turkey managed to revive old political values and how contact with Western Europe and the West in general may be aggravating the trend.

Week 2: Turkey’s Foreign Policy

A survey of Turkish foreign policy. Since the 1990s, values held sacrosanct by Ankara's leaders have been, according to some domestic nationalist leaders, spurned by the West. Yet has Turkey's association with Western alliances amounted to little more than several decades of disappointment? We'll examine the nationalist rhetoric that has sought to distance Ankara from the West.

Week 3: The Common Person

How has the average citizen responded to the growing political, social and economic changes? We examine not only Turkish attitudes, but attitudes from within the Balkans to a 'new' Turkey.

Week 4: Regional Impact

With growing uncertainty highlighting Turkey's relations with the West, have regional Balkan players sensed a weakness? Several neighbouring states have done the unthinkable. Serbia and Kosovo, for example, have by-passed Western concerns and come to advocate a redrawing of regional borders for regional stability. Disagreement about this plan within the European community suggests Europe may not be able to control the process.

Week 5: Balkan Politics

A survey of the politics across the Balkans. Can it be argued that recent cooperation between the region's states signals a local awareness that some form of coexistence, in light of a reduced role from outside powers, is forcing the nations to work out differences on their own? Turkey's efforts and interests in these endeavours will also be explained.

Week 6: Turkey’s Possible Futures

Turkey's new relations with Russia, local leaders in the Balkans, and influential political actors across the Middle East suggest that some ancient patterns are beginning to resurface. Can Turkey become the hub of new geopolitical plans that bridge these former elements of an old Ottoman Empire into a new association? How much involvement can or will the West have? 

How will I learn?

  • Lectures
  • Discussion (may vary from class to class)
  • Papers (applicable only to certificate students)

How will I be evaluated?

For certificate students only:

Your instructor will evaluate you based on an essay, which you will complete at the end of the course. You will receive a grade of “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory.”

Textbooks and learning materials

Reading material (if applicable) will be available in class. Some course materials may be available online.

If you're 55+, you may take this course as part of

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