Yasar University in İzmir, Turkey has recently established Center for Mediterranean Studies aiming at creating an academic environment for a greater understanding of the Mediterranean and thus examine the dynamics, challenges and perspectives this region faces in the years ahead.
Mediterranean is a historical and cultural area as well as a unique social configuration interconnected by common themes of ancient and philosophical traditions, East-West interactions, political rivalities and economic and cultural connections. In this context, we thought that Center for Mediterranean Studies could promote the following themes:
First, the identity and life in Mediterranean, its people, the cities, ports, islands and sea routes. Second, ethnic and sectarian conflicts as well as, political rivaliries which are going in the region. Third, the increasing potential for regional integration and cohesion and how to promote peace, democracy and prosperity in the region. In order to address these themes, the Center would initiate a mix of academic research, convening and outreach.
The Center would concentrate on the main thematic areas such as (i) globalization and its impacts on Mediterranean, (ii) conflict management and peace-building, and (iii) security and development (iv) enhanced role of Turkey in the Mediterranean affairs. This include issue areas like preventive diplomacy and mediation, migration, sustainable development, environmental sustainability, climatic change, energy and issues of social inclusion including human rights, rule of law, women, youth, demography and aging.
The scope of the activities are as follows:
(a) Research and publication;
(b) Conference, workshops and roundtable meetings;
(c) Dialogue and facilitation.
The working methodology will include the establishment of task forces which will produce evidence-based reports addressing not only the root causes of issues and challenges but also the action needed to improve the policy responses. The Center would offer a platform for dialogue with combining the flexibility of a policy-oriented center and the strenghts derived from the academic staff of Yasar University.
The areas of relevance would cover wider Mediterranean, the Balkans, the Caucasus, Black Sea Region, the Middle East and North Africa. This comprises also a particular focus on mediation and preventive diplomacy with the involvement of NGO’s and civil society in relation to the areas of conflict and political transitions.
The Center would establish a network of regional organizations, think tanks, and NGO’s across Mediterranean and globe. It would search for access to the networks and programmes connected to the United Nations and specialized organizations, international development agencies, and the European Union, in particular Union for Mediterranean. In this context, the Center would have a special focus on the global debate about Sustainable Development Goals (STGs) and its ramifications for the region. Collaborative efforts with the Universities and similar Center for Mediterranean Studies would be initiated in order to carry out joint research projects and publications and conferences. The Center would benefit form local partnerships with Universities, think-tanks, NGO’s and the business community in İzmir and Turkey.