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Jan Schierkolk
Jan Schierkolk
2020/21 Mercator-IPC Fellow

Jan Schierkolk is an educator and social entrepreneur focusing on building international and transcultural bridges and on empowering especially young people to become engaged locally and across borders.

Before his time as a Mercator-IPC Fellow, Jan worked on various inclusion and education-related projects for disadvantaged beneficiaries, including migrants and refugees, with NGOs, schools, and municipalities in Turkey, Germany, and other countries. This included youth work, promotion of participation, volunteerism, and social entrepreneurship, as well as international cooperation in all of these areas.

Born and raised in Frankfurt, Germany, Jan studied and worked in various countries and contexts over the past 15 years. He holds an MA in International Affairs from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID) in Geneva and a BA in Governance and Public Policy from the University of Passau, including short-term studies at Boğaziçi and Texas A&M universities. Having first lived in Turkey in 2007, Jan is familiar with the recent ups and downs in the country’s relationship with the EU. Today, he remains convinced that true rapprochement and win-win cooperation is difficult but ultimately possible if supported in principled, but unprejudiced, inclusive and bottom-up ways.

Project: “Promoting Civic Participation in EU-Turkish Municipal Cooperation”

Be it migration or questions of cohesion in ever more diversifying societies, local solutions to common issues like climate change, or other topics, local communities are at the forefront of efforts to find, agree upon, and implement practical solutions for all. They are usually the first and most immediate point of contact in politics for most people. Therefore, international cooperation between local actors can both create valuable direct opportunities to learn from each other and, with sufficient participation, help many more people experience, shape, and own a small part of their countries’ international relations.

This very practical, hands-on fellowship project deals with participatory approaches to the deep and complex relations between Turkey and the EU, and how municipalities and their international partnerships can help improve them. A focus is put on German-Turkish local partnerships, of which around 100 currently exist—often greatly varying in history, nature, and current circumstances. What is their role in overall relations? How can they help to deepen the partnership, make it more resilient, and foster an environment of mutual understanding and respect, even in difficult times? Through contacting municipalities, other relevant national and international institutions, and interested civil society actors from both sides, previous experiences, current needs, and future potential for meaningful and sustainable contact and exchange will be assessed and further promoted. Actors’ different roles, perceptions, and expectations will be taken into account. The primary methods used in this project will include interviews, project meetings, and various formal and informal ways of sharing relevant information, contacts, ideas, and best practices. Young people’s needs and priorities will receive special attention throughout these efforts. For instance, they already seem to suggest stronger use of direct, unconventional, and unofficial channels, including sustained and concrete, participation-based exchange and collaboration. Meanwhile, current pandemic-related challenges, too, indicate a greater need (and opportunities) for the use of online platforms. However, to achieve their full potential, all efforts should be locally rooted and participatory in nature.

Welcoming of the 2020/21 Mercator-IPC Fellows

We welcome our 2020/21 Mercator-IPC Fellows Ahmet Atıl Aşıcı, David Samuel Williams, Elena Dück, Jan Schierkolk, Karolína Augustová, Michael Kaeding and Özge Geyik.

Ahmet Atıl Aşıcı | The "Green New Deal for Turkey" to Tackle The Climate Crisis

David Samuel Williams | How National Adaptation Plans Can Address and Consider Vulnerable Communities

Elena Dück | International Cooperation in Education: A Cornerstone of Sustainable Foreign Policy

Jan Schierkolk | Promoting Civic Participation in EU-Turkish Municipal Cooperation

Karolína Augustová | Violent Impacts of EU's Externalization Politics on Refugees' Everyday Mobility in Turkey

Michael Kaeding | Turkey’s (Enhanced) Engagement in EU Agencies: A Potential Membership Substitute Mechanism in a Differentiated European Union

Özge Geyik | Climate Change and Nutritional Sustainability: Aligning Climate Change, Food Production and Public Health Nutrition Targets

The Welcoming of the 2020/21 Mercator-IPC Fellows

The Welcoming of the 2020/21 Mercator-IPC Fellows was held on October 19 at The Seed. The event began with welcoming remarks by Yusuf Leblebici, followed by remarks from Fuat Keyman and Michael Schwarz. The event continued with a speech by Mercator-IPC Visiting Senior Fellow Pankaj Mishra and a Q&A section moderated by Senior Scholar Senem Aydın-Düzgit. The speech was followed by a movie screening that introduced the 2020/21 Mercator-IPC Fellows Ahmet Atıl Aşıcı, David Samuel Williams, Elena Dück, Jan Schierkolk, Karolína Augustová, Michael Kaeding, and Özge Geyik. 

Please click here to watch the broadcast.

Please click here to watch the speech by Mercator-IPC Visiting Senior Fellow Pankaj Mishra and a Q&A section moderated by Senior Fellow Senem Aydın-Düzgit.