Winter Term in Turkey

We regret that CMES will not be able to offer the winter excursion in Turkey in 2022-23.

The CMES J-term program in Turkey centers on the multi-layered city of Istanbul. Since its foundation by the Roman Emperor Constantine in the year 330, the political, economic, religious, and cultural impact of Constantinople/Istanbul has been immense. This excursion will explore the city’s intermingled Byzantine, Ottoman, and modern features. Readings, discussions and museum visits will enhance our understanding of Istanbul as a vital point of connection between Europe and Asia, and, equally importantly, between the Mediterranean and Black Sea basins.

Istanbul skyline

Highlights include tours of the Hagia Sophia church/mosque/museum, Ottoman mosque complexes, Topkapi Palace, and the Grand Bazar. We will meet with organizations working with the city’s diverse communities. Beyond the city walls, we will travel the Bosphorus by ferry, and visit the former Ottoman capital city of Edirne, located on the modern border with Bulgaria and Greece. From our base in the vibrant central district of Beyoğlu, we will explore the sights, sounds, and tastes of city as it is lived today.

Logistical Information

This two-week, no-credit course will include basic instruction of Turkish and discussion of selected readings (provided). Nine students will be admitted.

All students are expected to fly together from Boston Logan airport to Istanbul. Tentative dates are January 7 to January 23. Priority will be given to applicants with a concentration or secondary focus in Near Eastern or Middle Eastern Studies, broadly defined. Knowledge of Turkish is helpful but not required.

The excursion is led by Jesse Howell (Academic Programs Manager at CMES) together with an advanced PhD student from CMES. There is $500 program fee. Accommodations, all travel costs, and two meals per day will be covered by CMES. Students are expected to cover one meal per day and personal incidental costs.

Required Readings

  • Charles King, Midnight at the Pera Palace
  • Suzy Hansen, Notes on a Foreign Country
  • Orhan Pamuk, My Name is Red


The application will consist of your Harvard transcript, resume, one letter of recommendation from a Harvard professor, and a statement of purpose. Your statement of purpose should address your interest and academic background in Middle Eastern Studies and should be between 300-500 words.

Questions about the program should be directed to Jesse Howell

Istanbul factory

2018 Cohort in Istanbul


See also: Turkey