WESTMONT in ISTANBUL: Spring '14 has just been completed--we anticipate Westmont in ISTANBUL will run again Spring 2016. Watch for more updates in the months to come.


Hagai Sophia by Keaton Hudson


You can debate with your roommate whether Islam poses a global threat - or you can go to the heart of the Islamic world and find out. You can wonder whether people in the Middle East want to live in a democracy - or you can ask them. You can pray for peace in Israel and Palestine - or you can find out how to work for peace.

captain morgan by Keaton Hudson

During this semester you will live in Istanbul, aka Constantinople, a city that is of the past and of the future, of grace and grit, of culture and politics, of faith and skepticism. It is Eastern and Western, a modern megalopolis of 15 million people and one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It is both cultural capital of a developing Asian country and was chosen as Europe’s “city of culture” in 2010. Istanbul’s skyline is punctuated by medieval mosques and minarets while swish modern cafes and bars dominate its street life.

You will be encouraged to experience another culture from the inside, studying Turkish, navigating your way around the city and interacting with Turks on a daily basis. You will develop relationships with your neighbors and Turkish university students. You will for a season become an urban person, and learn to be comfortable negotiating a foreign metropolitan landscape.

You will also experience what it means to live in community in a new way. Removed from familiar social, relational and religious support systems, all the while being confronted with some of the most challenging issues facing the world today, you will need to rely on each other.

Fayaz in the desert-by Keaton Hudson
You will travel inside and outside Turkey. While the program will be centered in Istanbul, and will give you an opportunity to feel located in one place, there will be at least two trips within Turkey – one to a Turkish eco-farm to give you some sense of the rural, and another outside Istanbul to give you a view of the country beyond the metropolial month of the semester you will visit Egypt for ten days, and then spend three weeks in Israel/Palestine visiting sites of Biblical and early Christianity, while being an eye witness to the current conflict and meeting with politicians, fighters, victims and activists on both sides.


January 12 --Arrival & Orientation

Weeks 1-2: Down town Istanbul

Week 3: Travel within Turkey

Weeks 4-10: Istanbul

Week 11: Travel to Turkish eco farm for retreat

Week 12: Istanbul

Week 13: Cairo and Sinai

Weeks 14-16: Israel/Palestine

May 1, 2014 -- Program Ends


All classes will be taught or supervised by Westmont faculty Heather Keaney and Jim Wright, with significant input from Turkish professors and a range of guest speakers in Turkey, Egypt, Israel and Palestine.

In the process of learning about Turkey and the Middle East you will learn far more about American society than you could ever do if you had stayed at home. You will study how different societies are struggling to find a balance between rooted cultural authenticity and coherent national identity on the one hand and a rapidly changing and globalizing culture on the other.

You will earn 16 credits and meet five GE Requirements and several major/minor credits, subject in each case to final approval by the relevant academic committees (who will make their decisions during the Spring 2013 semester).  


Cross and Crescent in the Middle East--4 units (Satisfies GE: Thinking Historically, major/minor credit in History and Religious Studies)

interior of sulemaniye mosque-by Keaton Hudson

You and your fellow students will study the historical, textual, and cultural foundations of Islam and then compare these with the living reality of Turkish, Egyptian and Palestinian societies. You will spend most of the semester in Turkey, a country that is 99% Muslim. You will also visit Palestine and Egypt, two other majority Muslim countries, the latter being in many eyes the center of Sunni Islam.

You and your fellow students will also visit significant sites of Biblical and early Christianity. You will study the evolution of Christianity from an opposition movement to the religion of empire, and thence to protected, subordinate and marginalized minority. Attention will be given to the interaction between theological developments and cultural and political developments. You will learn more about the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches. Through meeting with different Christians living in the Middle East today you will be challenged to consider afresh what it means to be a part of the global body of Christ.


Modern Turkey--4 units (Satisfies GE: Understanding Society and satisfies GE Communicating Cross Culturally)

You and your fellow students will study the modern history of Turkey: its transition from a multi-ethnic, religious and linguistic empire into a modern nation state that removed or marginalized all religious and ethnic minorities. You will study what it means to be a modern nation, and how a nation may or may not make room for the “other” while forging a coherent unity.

lights over the bosphoros at night--by Keaton Hudson


Change and Conflict in the Modern Middle East--4 units (Satisfies GE: Thinking Globally, major/minor credit Political Science and major/minor credit History)

caged home above jewish star --by Keaton Hudson

You and your fellow students will study some of the dramatic political changes in the Middle East which have taken place since 2011 and will consider if the “Arab Spring" is or is not an appropriate name for these changes. You will study the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from the perspective of both Israelis and Palestinians. We will ask together where we can find hope for peace, what we can learn about the struggle for influence and resources in the region, and what this may mean for us as Americans and Christians.








Turkish language (Satisfies GE: Foreign language)

You will study Turkish throughout the time in Istanbul, both in a formal class room setting and through daily opportunities to practice.Ibrahim portrait--By Keaton Hudson






The program is full as of April 1, 2013



The cost of the program will be standard Westmont tuition, fees, room and board. There will be no program supplement but you will be responsible for the cost of the return air ticket from USA to Turkey.


Jim and Heather--By Keaton HudsonPROFESSOR HEATHER KEANEY is an alum of Westmont who spent twelve years between 1999 and 2011 living and teaching in Cairo at the American University in Cairo and at the CCCU’s Middle East Studies Program (MESP). As the acting-director of MESP in Fall 2009 she led 30 students through Turkey, Syria and Israel-Palestine. Professor Keaney is enthusiastic about helping students place the events that make headlines in the Middle East within their historical and cultural context in order to reveal their human dimension. She hopes students will come to share some of her love and passion for the place and its people.

JIM WRIGHT was born in Devon, England, which no doubt explains his difficulties with the American language. After studying law at Cambridge University he worked for a multi-national corporate law firm in London and Dubai. He left this to study cross-cultural and Biblical theology in the UK before arriving in Egypt in 1993. He spent 18 years in Egypt, initially studying Arabic and then working as a corporate lawyer. His life in the region convinced Jim of the strategic importance of the Middle East. His interaction with students from the Middle East Studies Program of the CCCU over the years convinced him of the strategic importance of American Christian College students for everything from regime change to climate change. Jim left the law and joined Westmont in 2011 in order to align these two convictions.

All pictures in this site were taken by Westmont student Keaton Hudson during the first running of the program in the spring of 2012.