Istanbul Program

Pathway to a New Community of the Perennially Curious

The Society for the Purposefully Purposeless offers its Istanbul Program as the pathway for students and professionals under 26 to associate with its community.
The Istanbul Program offers a vibrant and non-competitive space for the free interplay of ideas and deliberative dialogue to allow the unhindered flow of ideas from within and without. It offers a unique opportunity where inquisitive minds can hold the pressures of outcome-centric expectations at bay to engage in discussions about the global challenges at the systems level and the thinking processes we use to tackle them.

The program is open to both recent graduates (including professionals) and current students (undergraduate and graduate) from all departments of leading institutes of higher education around the world. The program convenes enthusiastic individuals whose curiosity transcends the boundaries of their fields.

The Istanbul Program is designed to overcome the artificial barriers of academic jargon to allow students from different fields to exchange ideas and concepts at a higher level of abstraction. Accordingly, the Society for the Purposefully Purposeless encourages students of all fields to apply, including but not limited to the fields of engineering, humanities, arts, law, science and medicine. For each cohort, a group of up to 20 participants from various backgrounds will be admitted.

To successfully complete the program, participants need to meet the minimum attendance requirement (approximately 80% of meetings), write a book review and participate in the moderated book discussions.

Each participant will be referred to one member of the Society for the Purposefully Purposeless with relevant experience and will be able to seek their academic and professional guidance for the duration of the program.

The program is conducted in Turkish. The program comprises three distinct but complementary components taking place over the course of a year. The meetings related to the first two components will be spread over a 12-month part period comprising both online and (if the pandemic permits) an introductory physical meeting. Accordingly, 9 to 10 online meetings (2 hours each) will be scheduled every 4  weeks starting with a -hopefully- in person introductory meeting at the end of December or the beginning of January. We very much would like to have this first meeting in person but we may have to shift it to an online meeting as well, depending on the availability and the preferences of the participants. Even if we organize an in person meeting, there will be an option to participate via Zoom.

Rest of the meetings covering the first two components will be held online. In order to allow a maximum number of participants to attend, the 9-10 online meetings will be held on Sundays.

The program will be completed with a 2-day meeting in December for the third component
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The first part builds on fast paced discussions to break the rigidities of intellectual biases and mental habits. The participants familiarize themselves with the thinking processes of their peers and through discussions develop an awareness of the comfortably familiar but frequently stultifying and pervasive intellectual habits. These moderated sessions use a wide spectrum of designedly counter-intuitive thought pieces as fuel for the discussions. The discussion topics vary from technology to economy and from culture to international relations.
The second part reverses the deconstructive approach of the previous section and invites the participants to engage in synthesizing persuasive and substantive narratives. The group is provided with a vocabulary of concepts from a broad range of disciplines to facilitate the sculpting of coherent and captivating frameworks. The intent is to impart the intellectual facility to shape narratives that will insightfully interweave the seemingly independent storylines that incessantly unfold on the global stage.
The more abstract discussions of these sections will be anchored by focusing on real-life episodes in statecraft, business and creative pursuits that are embedded in the full panoply of real life complexities. If covid permits, we will engage and benefit from the guidance of distinguished experts and pioneering professionals who have had first-hand exposure to the episodes we address.
For the third component of the program, the participants are expected to review a book. Books are assigned from a curated collection including seminal works and recent publications from different disciplines. Individual and group preferences are taken into account during the assignment process. The participants will then partake in moderated discussions that elicit their insights about the book.
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Application and dates

The first part of the program will be held in late December or early January. The exact dates will be determined after considering the participants’ academic calendars and availabilities. The admission process consists of two parts: the written application and the interview. The written applications can be submitted in English or Turkish. The application deadline is November 7, 2021. Candidates must apply through e-mail and provide the following documents:
  • The application form.
  • A personal statement (up to 500 words): Applicants are kindly requested to briefly introduce themselves, state their personal and academic/professional areas of interest as well as their motivations for applying.
  • CV
  • A transcript: Students must provide a recent transcript. Professionals and graduate students are requested to provide their undergraduate and graduate (if applicable) transcripts.
  • Additional documents: Applicants may provide additional documents to support their applications such as CVs, proof of significant work, recommendation letters, analysis papers (maximum 1500), etc... (Optional)
Shortlisted candidates will be invited to a 15 min interview, online or in person. Admitted candidates will be notified via e-mail. Please direct your application e-mails and queries to

[email protected]