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