What do people in Turkey want for their future?
Second edition. September 2016.
PREVIEW THIS UNIT. The preview includes the table of contents, a student reading excerpt, and one lesson plan. PREVIEW ALL UNITS. Additional unit descriptions for the Current Issues Series that summarize the historical context, student readings, and skill development are available on this MIRO BOARD.

Turkey is located at the crossroads of Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Its history is rich. Its largest city, Istanbul, once known as Constantinople and Byzantium, was previously the capital of the Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s revolutionary reforms and efforts to create a modern, unified, and secular country out of the remnants of the Ottoman Empire make up one of the most remarkable stories of the twentieth century. While the legacy of Atatürk still looms large, there are new forces at play today that shape Turkey and its relationship to the world. Empire, Republic, Democracy: Turkey’s Past and Future is divided into three parts. Each part includes:

  • Student readings
  • Accompanying study guides, graphic organizers, and key terms
  • Lessons aligned with the readings that develop analytical skills (including at least one that focuses on building geographic literacy) and can be completed in one or more periods
  • Videos that feature leading experts

This unit also includes an Options Role Play as the key lesson and additional synthesis lessons that allow students to synthesize new knowledge for assessment. You do not need to use the entire unit; feel free to select what suits your classroom needs.

“The Turkey unit, especially the ideas at stake in the final debate, raises a lot of issues about national identity that are relevant to American students. Turkey is western enough for students to identify with people there yet still ‘foreign’ enough to be a good springboard to studying other cultures, Islam, etc. It helps that the issue is very contemporary.” – Kyle, History and Government Teacher, Washington

Part I: The End of an Empire

Part I provides an overview of Turkey’s population and geography before delving into the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire and the creation of an independent Turkey. There is one lesson aligned with Part I: The Geography of Turkey.

Part II: A New Republic

Part II examines Atatürk’s reforms, political upheavals throughout the twentieth century, and the Kurdish conflict. There is one lesson aligned with Part II: Art as Political Expression.

Part III: Turkey Today

Part III covers the political and economic developments of the past few decades and explores the critical issues affecting everyday people in Turkey. The reading examines recent developments, such as the Syrian Civil War, the emergence of ISIS, the global refugee crisis, and the attempted military coup of 2016. There is one lesson aligned with Part III: Photo Analysis: Looking at Turkey.


The Geography of Turkey

Students practice map–reading skills and consider how geography has affected the history of Turkey and the Ottoman Empire.

Art as Political Expression

Students analyze Turkish artist Zeki Faik İzer's 1933 painting, "On the Road to Transformation," by identifying symbols and their historical significance.

Photo Analysis: Looking at Turkey

Students analyze photographs of present-day Turkey to learn about Turkish life and society. Students consider the benefits and limitations of using photographs as a source.

The Options Role Play

The Options Role Play is the key lesson in the unit. Working cooperatively, students take on the roles of Turkish politicians and citizens to explore different options for Turkey's future.

Young People Speak Out

Synthesis Lesson: Working in groups, students read and analyze oral histories from the "Young People Speak Out" project based at Sabanci University in Istanbul.

Assessment Using Documents

Synthesis Lesson: Students review ten documents pertaining to Atatürk's legacy and answer a series of documents-based questions.

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