21st January 2021
OFF-UNIVERSITY STANDS IN SOLIDARITY WITH BOĞAZİÇİ UNİVERSİTY STUDENTS AND FACULTY
Dear colleagues and students of Boğaziçi University,
We are deeply concerned about the recent developments interfering with universities once again in Turkey. The appointment of the AKP parliamentary candidate as the new rector of Boğaziçi University was the latest attack on university autonomy. Melih Bulu’s appointment not only violates the autonomous decision making of the university but also undermines the Academic Principles of Boğaziçi University, accepted by the university senate in 2012.
As an independent association established by and for the persecuted academics, Off University is deeply disturbed by these brazen violations of academic freedom and the following violent acts of police to disperse the peaceful protests against the appointment. The overwhelming security presence on campus, placing handcuffs on campus entrance gates to keep the students and academics outside, raiding homes of students, firing tear gas, and using water cannons and rubber bullets against the scholars and students who demand academic freedom and university autonomy is unacceptable.
Academic Freedom and institutional autonomy are core values of higher education. In support of the statement made by the Boğaziçi University faculty members, we also endorse that “it is indispensable that universities be free from any pressure or influence from a person or an institution and not be used as a political tool.”
As Off University members, we support your democratic demands and stand in solidarity with you. We call upon the Turkish government and president Erdoğan to respect academic freedom and university autonomy, as well as to annul the presidential decree to enable political authorities to make appointments at universities.
28th March 2020
University beyond Borders in times of Crisis: Off-University
Registration to Summer Term Courses is Open!
Summer semester in Off-University is now starting. Our courses are taught by academics from Turkey who were forced to resign from the universities because of their political views. They are open to anyone who wants to learn about different conditions of the world from a wide perspective.
Due to the crisis resulting from the Coronavirus pandemic, universities from all over the world have been forced to sustain their education through online learning platforms. Off-University was established during another crisis about three years ago, when many academics in Turkey lost their jobs because of their political opinions and got legally persecuted. The aim of Off-University, which offers courses open to everyone through an online digital platform, is to support the researchers and faculty members who were excluded from their institutions by the repressive authorities and to develop new methods to convey their knowledge and share their research. So far, 1400 participants have benefited from the online courses offered by Off-University.
Climate change and climate justice, the role of the media in spreading discourses of discrimination and different philosophical approaches to the notion of ‘home’ are among the most exciting topics of the courses that compromise Off-University’s 2020 summer term.
If you are interested to join the courses which are completely free, registration is just a click away.
For press inquiries please contact: tuba.cekic[at]tac.web.tr
7th October 2019
WINTER SEMESTER 2019/20 AT OFF-UNIVERSITY BEGINS
After the Constitutional Court in Turkey confirmed in July what we always knew, that a petition calling for peace is not a crime, courts across Turkey are now acquitting Academics for Peace of terrorism charges. We stand behind our colleagues and their right to freedom of expression and free academia without persecution. Despite these acquittals hundreds of academics are still banned from working in public institutions and Universities, and the struggle for academic freedom and truth is far from over. Only recently it was announced that Dr Bülent Şık is facing up to twelve years in jail for “disclosing classified information” after sharing his research which exposes toxic pollution that was a risk to public health.
Off-University is excited to announce that we continue to host new courses by at risk scholars on our learning platform! This Winter Semester we are hosting eight online courses taught by persecuted academics in Turkey and organised in collaboration with the New University in Exile Consortium at the New School, the Free University of Berlin, Kassel University, Potsdam University, Ludwig Maximilians University Munich, Göttingen University and Humboldt University Berlin.
Off-University’s winter semester courses are on the following topics:
- - Comparative History of the Modern Middle East
- - Homelessness and Homemaking
- - Identity and Conflict in the Middle East
- - Media and Discrimination
- - Political Economy of the Global South in the Age of Financialisation
- - Right and Violation
- - Social Welfare Labor and State in Turkey
- - Global Political Economy: Evolution and Dynamics
Online courses are held by academics that have been purged from their institutions, forced to resign, and politically persecuted due to their opinion and research in Turkey.
In collaboration with partner universities, Off-University provides certificates of achievement and the equivalence in ECTS points for those who fulfil the course requirements. Participation in the online courses does not depend on formal academic degrees and is free of tuition. Off-University protects learners and does no collect data of participants.
Off-University hosts the online courses on its platform ‘Coworkingsquares’ Off-University’s which offers a virtual classroom including chat options, video livestream, a virtual blackboard and a shared file management system designed for participative and horizontal co-learning. Students can access the course materials and video lectures on the platform, and students join online class discussions with the lecturer once a week.
Our first research course “Homelesseness and Homemaking: On Different Meanings of the Home Space” started on September 30th. We are excited to be welcoming students from around the world who have already enrolled on our courses.
For more information and press inquiries please contact us here: mail[at]off-university.de
20 March, 2019SUMMER TERM AT OFF-UNIVERSITY BEGINS!
Off-University, an emancipatory education initiative created by and for persecuted academics, launches its Summer Semester online courses this week.
Off-University has partnered up with universities around Germany and the United States to offer accredited online courses open for all, regardless of previous attainments or location. All the courses are taught by academics who have been purged from their institutions, forced to resign, and who are legally and politically persecuted in Turkey.
İclal Ayşe Küçükkırca was dismissed from her university position in 2017 for signing the Academics for Peace petition against the raids by the Turkish military on cities mainly populated by Kurds in 2016. She explains her situation:
“With Off-University I can teach freely, and I am able to sustain myself while continuing to do research. The detachment from university also means detachment from young people. Off-University created the chance of getting connected with young people from different geographies.”
Off-University’s 14-week-long courses cover a range of topics, from Feminist Political Philosophy, Comparative Urban Politics , the Economy of the Global South in the Age of Financialisation, to Contemporary Turkish Literature and Comparative Political History of the Modern Middle East.
The courses are held on the Off-University platform “Coworkingsquares” which offers students, researchers and lecturers a chance to connect via live streams, chats and videos, and to share coursework and learning materials.
Tuba Çekiç, Associate Professor in Urban planning co founded Off-University in 2017 after she moved to Germany following her expulsion from Yıldız Technical University in Istanbul and the confiscation of her passport. She explains what launching the new semester means to her.
“I am very excited that we are launching our fantastic new Summer Semester courses as a way to respond practically to the political persecution of scholars in Turkey and beyond, and to promote critical thinking in an alternative, horizontal online university learning environment.”
As of 4 March 2019, 137 academics in Turkey have received prison sentences from one year and three months, to three years in prison for signing the Academics for Peace petition, for which they were charged with creating “terrorist propaganda”. This is only one facet of the political persecution academics experience in Turkey.
As this anti-democratic repression of critical voices increases, so too does the need for spaces where critical knowledge can be shared freely. The Off-University course program connects students and academics all over the world and addresses itselves to anyone who stands for peace and living together in diversity. To find out more see https://off-university.com/en-US/Lesson/List
08 February, 2019
Imprisoning Scholars Aims at Imprisoning Scholarly Thinking
On January 10, 2016, 1,128 academics published a declaration entitled "We will not be party to this crime" protesting against severe human rights violations during the curfews in Southeastern Turkey— the Kurdish populated region. After the Turkish government accused the peace defenders in academia of ‘being part of terrorist propaganda’, hundreds of scholars have been dismissed from their universities. Meanwhile, with the participation of other scholars, the number of academics for peace who have signed the declaration has reached 2,212 in Turkey alone. Since December 5th, 2017, scholars have been prosecuted under charges of “propaganda for a terrorist organization”. The Penal Courts continue to hand out sentences against scholars and human rights defenders until today. As Bianet reports: “As of January 24, 2019, 450 academics have stood trial since December 5, 2017. 83 of these academics were sentenced to 1 year and 3 months in prison; 3 academics to 1 year and 6 months in prison; one academic to 2 years and 3 months in prison; one academic has been sentenced to 2 years and 6 months in prison; one academic has been sentenced to 2 years and 1 month in prison; and one academic has been sentenced to 3 years in prison.”
Off-University, as an initiative strengthening freedom of speech in academia, supports our colleagues’ on-going fight for freedom and peace in Turkey. The defence of human rights must not be prosecuted. The sentences meted out by the courts are clearly arbitrary, as scholars who have signed the same petition received different penalties. The verdict of three years meeted out to a scholar on January 24th is an example for this as the court did not cite any aggravating circumstances. Moreover, imprisoning scholars has the aim of imprisoning scholarly thinking. Critical thinking at Turkish universities and interventions by scholars in the public sphere of Turkey are systematically prevented. Therefore, these convictions constitute not only a severe political persecution of academics, they also impede sound academic life, knowledge production, and the future development of higher education in Turkey.
We repeat our solidarity with the persecuted colleagues.
For more information about the prosecutions of the Academics for Peace initiative: https://bianet.org/konu/trial-of-academics
For reading more about the curfews of 2015 and 2016 in Southeast Turkey : http://hakikatadalethafiza.org/en/kaynak_tipi/reports-on-curfews/
03 October, 2018
Off-University 2018/19 Winter Semester Online Courses Start Off!
Off-University is an initiative of scholars who respond to political persecution and attacks on academic freedom by creating a digital infrastructure to continue education and research. It was founded by scholars from Germany and Turkey yet addresses itself to scholars and students from all over the world with a range of online academic events; free of charge and available to everyone interested. In 2018/19 Winter Semester, Off-University presents three online courses starting on October 17, 2018.
+ rewires dislocated scholars in the academic world in an alternative way for an alternative academia
+ understands itself as a facilitator that reassembles existing networks of collaboration among universities and other educational institutions in favor of a less hierarchical and more inclusive structuring;
+ is committed to a world in which critical research can be conducted anywhere, by anyone, and knowledge is produced and shared freely and free of charge.
Off-University 2018/19 Winter Semester provides a space for scholars from Turkey who were dismissed from their university positions due to signing a peace petition calling to end state violence in and against Kurdish cities and towns in January 2016. As some of the Off-University instructors have since not been allowed to leave Turkey, the courses are organized in an online space with the objective of transnational and transcultural communication between participants from all over the world and online-lecturers in Turkey by including online-participants from all around the world. Off-University 2018/19 Winter Semester Online Courses are organized in collaboration with Potsdam University, the University of Duisburg-Essen and Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (chair of Turkish Studies). Online courses are livestreamed with the facilitation of Off-University. The three online courses in 2018/2019 Winter Semester at Off-University are held in English and Turkish, and open to online students wherever they are located and the interested public. Students of Potsdam and Duisburg-Essen Universities enrolled in appropriate programs may include these courses in their transcripts. It is sufficient just to get registered in order to participate in the courses which are free of charge. Participants who successfully complete their studies will receive a certificate of achievement which may be recognized by the universities located in countries part of the Bologna Process. The requirements might differ in each course.
Please follow the link below in order to get further information and download media files