Initiated by Tosun Terzioğlu, former President of Sabancı University, Ahmet Evin, former Dean of Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS), and Üstün Ergüder, former President of Boğaziçi University, and with the contribution of Sabancı University professors Korel Göymen and Ersin Kalaycıoğlu, Istanbul Policy Center (IPC) was founded in November 2001 to conduct applied and innovative public policy research in Turkey. With its cutting-edge policy research and public outreach activities, IPC is the embodiment of Sabancı University’s commitment to interdisciplinary approach to science and progress through close cooperation with the community.
True to this vision, IPC has initiated numerous successful applied research projects with its community partners. Some of these undertakings go back to the founding of Sabancı University in 1997 when IPC was still at a developmental stage. An EU-Turkey Dialogue Project was FASS’ first grant to be coordinated in the Karaköy office between 1997-98. Shortly thereafter in November 2001, IPC was established with Üstün Ergüder’s involvement as an institution with a flexible nature and equally partnered with each faculty. Since then, IPC has strived to create a bridge between NGOs and academia in both Turkey and the world, without losing its focus on applied academic research and public policy. Between 2001 and 2010, IPC accomplished noteworthy projects in the areas of education reform, good governance, conflict resolution, Turkey-EU relations, and globalization. Furthermore, Turkey-US relations was included as one of Center’s principal research programs. During its early years, IPC’s Education Reform Initiative also became one of its most significant projects and contributed to enhancing its public visibility.
In August 2010, Fuat Keyman, Professor of International Relations at Sabancı University, took over as the director of IPC. Under Dr. Keyman’s leadership, IPC has not only produced outstanding programs, publications and events, but also expanded its key research areas to include political and social trends in Turkey, social equality, civil society, and urban transformation. In 2011, IPC partnered with Stiftung Mercator to establish one of the most comprehensive partnerships between a Turkish and a German NGO. In 2012, the IPC – Sabancı University – Stiftung Mercator Initiative was launched and began realizing a diverse mix of research and exchange activities in climate change, EU/German-Turkish relations, and education. Through this collaboration, both institutions seek to strengthen the academic, political, and social ties between Turkey and Germany, as well as Turkey and Europe through the facilitation of excellent scientific research and hands-on policy work. The Mercator Fellowship Program, as a part of the Initiative, accepted its first scholars in September 2012.
In regard to the emerging political and social trends in Turkey, another notable project successfully undertaken by IPC is “Strengthening Turkey’s Checks and Balances System through Constitutional Reform” organized in collaboration with the National Democratic Institute.
The Annual Sakıp Sabancı Lecture Series, named after late Sakıp Sabancı, Honorary Chairman of Sabancı University’s Board of Trustees, is held annually with increasing renown and attendance at an international level. Furthermore, IPC has produced successful programs such as Young Turkey Young America 2011 and 2012, Likeminds: German-Turkish Junior Expert Initiative; conferences, such as the “International Conference on the Role of Think Tanks in Policy Formation,” which was co-organized with the Friedrich Naumann Foundation on November 18, 2011; “Promoting Trade and Development in sub-Saharan Africa,” in which IPC collaborated with the German Marshall Fund on May 13, 2011; and, reports such as “The Environment in Turkey 2010” by Ersin Kalaycıoğlu and Ali Çarkoğlu as well as “The Perception of Democracy in Turkey” by Fuat Keyman and Özge Kemahlıoğlu.