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Rotary partners with Bahçeşehir University to establish Peace Center in Turkey

New center will train regional peacebuilders through a one-year Rotary Peace Fellowship

ISTANBUL, Turkey (8 February 2024) – Rotary International and Bahçeşehir University (BAU) announce a partnership agreement to establish the Otto and Fran Walter Rotary Peace Center, offering a professional development certificate program for peace and development professionals in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.  The center is located at the university’s Future Campus outside of Istanbul, Turkey.

Realizing a vision that has been years in the making, the new peace center will equip community leaders with advanced knowledge and skills in peacebuilding that focus on pivotal issues pertinent to the MENA region. These include land and identity disputes, climate change, food insecurity, refugee integration, and community development.

With a strong focus on Positive Peace – as defined by attitudes, institutions and structures that create and sustain peaceful societies, students will engage in a comprehensive curriculum in peacebuilding and conflict resolution. The fellowship will include academic studies, field visits, and seminars and workshops offered by the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) through its local training center – CIFAL Istanbul. Students will use their experience to implement a nine-month social change project within the region and conclude their fellowship with a capstone seminar to present the results.

"This new collaboration with Bahçeşehir University underscores Rotary's commitment to fostering peace and developing sustainable solutions tailored to the unique challenges across our regions,” said Rotary International President Gordon McInally. “By growing our regionally focused peace and development certificate programs, we are creating a platform where devoted individuals from diverse backgrounds can unite and harness their collective expertise to build a framework of peace and understanding that has impact within and beyond their local communities."

The program is tailored to accommodate mid-career professionals, ensuring they’re able to integrate their learnings into real-world scenarios and positively impact their respective organizations and communities. BAU’s Faculty of Economics, Administrative and Social Sciences will provide expansive knowledge and resources to bolster the academic and practical learning experiences offered at the peace center.

"Bahçeşehir University brings deep local expertise in the Middle East and North Africa, embodying a commitment to multiculturalism and understanding,” said Rector of Bahçeşehir University, Prof. Dr. Esra Hatipoğlu. “Our collaboration with Rotary, a renowned leader in peacebuilding, merges academic rigor with hands-on knowledge, allowing us to address conflict transformation with a practical, grounded perspective and transitioning peace from a hopeful aspiration to an achievable goal."

Made possible by a generous donation of US$15.5 million from the Otto and Fran Walter Foundation, the peace center program at BAU will be offered for up to 40 peacebuilding professionals each year through a competitive fellowship application process. Recruitment for the first cohort begins in February 2024, with classes commencing in early 2025. 

Every year, Rotary awards up to 130 fully funded fellowships for dedicated peace and development leaders from around the world to study at one of its seven peace center programs. In just over 20 years, Rotary Peace Centers have trained more than 1,700 individuals for careers in peacebuilding in more than 140 countries, and program alumni serve as leaders in both governmental and nongovernmental agencies, international organizations, and more.

About Rotary: Rotary brings together a global network of volunteer leaders dedicated to tackling the world’s most pressing humanitarian challenges. Rotary connects 1.4 million members of more than 46,000 Rotary clubs in almost every country in the world. Their work improves lives at both the local and international levels, from helping families in need in their own communities to working toward a polio-free world. To learn more about Rotary’s Peace Center programs and fellowships, visit 

About Bahçeşehir University: Located in Istanbul, Türkiye, Bahçeşehir University (BAU) is a renowned higher education institution offering world-class curriculum and fostering innovation, research, and excellence. Established in 1998, BAU has since risen to prominence both nationally and internationally, recognized for its commitment to academic quality, diversity, and global engagement with around 30,000 enrolled students from more than 125 countries. Bahçeşehir University's mission is to empower individuals to become creative, critical thinkers and responsible global citizens. Promoting academic excellence, innovation, and societal impact, the university aims to contribute to the advancement of knowledge and the betterment of society.

Media only contacts: 

Rotary: Claudia Brunner, +41.44.387.7116,

Bahçeşehir: Utku Bolulu, +90.212.381.0285, (Turkish inquiries only)

Program information and contacts:

The Otto and Fran Walter Rotary Peace Center at Bahçeşehir University,

Rotary Peace Fellowship Professional Development Certificate program,