The General Assembly of the Turkish National Commission for UNESCO meets once every four years to renew its executive board. The most recent General Assembly meeting was held in May of this year. Among the members elected to the Commission’s new Executive Committee, slated to serve until 2018, were two Bilkent scholars, Prof. Öcal Oğuz and Asst. Prof. Mehmet Akif Kireçci.
In addition, the new Executive Committee elected Prof. Oğuz as the new president of the Turkish National Commission. Prof. Oğuz is head of the Department of Folklore at Gazi University, and has been teaching as an adjunct professor in the Department of Turkish Literature at Bilkent University for the last 10 years.
The Committee elected Asst. Prof. Kireçci vice president of the Commission. A member of the Bilkent University Department of History, he has been working on cultural and political relations between the East and the West as a recipient of the European Research Agency’s Marie Curie award.
In addition to Prof. Oğuz and Asst. Prof. Kireçci, three other Bilkent scholars have been tapped to serve on various committees of the Commission. Assoc. Prof. Işık Yuluğ, chair of the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics and a recipient of the L’Oreal-UNESCO Turkey Women in Science Award, has been appointed to the Bioethics Committee.
An expert on Turkology, Prof. Semih Tezcan of the Department of Turkish Literature is serving as a member of the World Memory Committee. Prof. Tezcan is a 2006 recipient of the TÜBA (Turkish Academy of Science) Award.
Dr. Yeliz Özay, a graduate of the Department of Turkish Literature (PhD) at Bilkent, has been appointed a member of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions Program Committee.
The Turkish National Commission has participated in a number of initiatives related to UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register. For example, the Commission nominated a highly valuable dictionary from the 11th century, Mahmûd al-Kâshgarî’s “Divân lugâti’t-Türk” (Compendium of Turkic Dialects), as well as the Hittite Tablets of Kültepe, to be included in the register.
Bilkent University’s Department of Turkish Literature contributed a great deal toward another significant initiative—the effort to include Evliya Çelebi’s famous “Seyahatname” (Book of Travels) in the register—by hosting academic events and publishing scholarly works on the theme.