We had organised “Urban Political Ecology II” graduate summer school at Koç University on July 2016. The school, with its ‘On the Road’ concept, prioritised a field-based collective learning model – one in which participants learn through the field experience and from each other.
This year, the school was coordinated by Yaşar Adanalı and the co-coordinator Sinan Erensü joined via Skype, as he had been finalising his PhD thesis, and Didem Pekün, joined our team to introduce documentary film-making and to supervise final projects of the participants.
Our first field trip was on “the Mad Projects of Istanbul and Their Mega Impacts”. We covered over 250 km in one day, stopping at various projects and meeting with different actors. Our second tour was at the Asian side of Istanbul, to Aydos Hill and Ataşehir Urban Development Site. We climbed up and down the highest point in Istanbul, stopped at one of the most interesting botanical gardens in the world right in the middle of a busy highway and visited the new rising gated communities of Ataşehir. The third trip was on “the spaces of migration”, on which we met with various members of Istanbul’s migrant communities and walked in the historical peninsula under their guidance. Our fourth tour was to the islands of Istanbul, to Heybeliada, to emphasize the multiple ways of urbanity and natures within the megapolis context. We organised our fifth tour to Piyalepaşa Bostan, one of the endangered urban agricultural gardens of Istanbul and to Hacıhüsrev, a historical neighbourhood threatened by an urban renewal projects. Our final tour was on gentrification of the downtown, where we walked different parts of Beyoglu and visited sale offices of new real-estate developments.
We had great contributions from various experts, activists and academics with diverse backgrounds. Our network of lecturers and presenters have expanded even further with their participation:
Following our summer school participant Cristal Ekşi won an award with her film that she made as part of her coursework last year, we decided to embed documentary film making to our course this year.