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On-Campus and Off-Campus
Social Welfare and Responsibility

Özyeğin University cooperates with many organizations to take part in a multitude of outreach projects. These projects include but not limited to Sustainable Local and Rural Development projects run in collaboration with the Hüsnü Özyeğin Foundation, OzU Cares projects, SUR conferences, ENO Tree Planting and other projects. More information about all the projects is available below.

Ozyegin University and Sustainable Local and Rural Development

Özyeğin University works in cooperation with the Hüsnü M. Özyeğin Foundation and public bodies to contribute to local and rural sustainable development in Turkey. These efforts are built around the following pillars:

  • Capacity Building Certification Programs
  • Academic Publications
  • Mobilization of Students in Development Projects
  • Development of Sustainable Development Plans.
Sustainable Local and Rural Development Expert Training Certification Programs

Each year, our University plays host to a variety of training programs offered in collaboration with the Hüsnü M. Özyeğin Foundation and public institutions operating in the field of development. The goal of the training programs is to contribute to the personal and professional development of junior faculty, and employees of public institutions and non-governmental organizations in the field of local and rural development. Since 2014, more than 200 participants have benefited from our certification programs. Our certification programs are offered by a cadre of highly qualified faculty both from our University and other universities, who are renowned in the fields of local development, ecological politics, gender studies, sociology, and economics. Our programs have been ongoing uninterruptedly for the past 4 years, and the participants and instructors of our programs assert our University’s claim in being a center for sustainable development.

A Book on Sustainability: Sustainable Local and Rural Development From the Perspective of Sustainable Life

Sustainable Local and Rural Development From the Perspective of Sustainable Life, a collection of articles authored by the faculty members who took part in the local and rural development certification programs as instructors, was published by Ozyegin University Press.  The book serves readers as a rich source that blends theory with practice, with 24 articles and interviews classified under 4 main headings. The book fills an important void in Turkish literature pertaining to local and rural development.

Mobilization of Students in Sustainable Rural Development Projects

Our University believes that rural life is one of the main pillars of ecological sustainability, and therefore must be preserved with all of its constituents, in particular agriculture. To this end, our students and faculty are given the opportunity to have first-hand experience about rural development practices. Visits are paid to the pilot villages in Bitlis and Kilis where the Hüsnü M. Özyeğin Foundation implements a series of rural development programs.  These visits help meet the material needs of village schools. The itinerary also includes a series of forums that prompt our students and village children and youth to discuss and exchange their career plans.

Contribution to the Development of Sustainable Development Plans

Our University develops local development plans for Besni, Adıyaman, Ömerli, Mardin, and Ravanda Basin, Kilis in collaboration with the Southeast Anatolia Project Regional Development Administration and the Hüsnü M. Özyeğin Foundation. Also supported by our faculty, the project serves as an important example of the cooperation among universities, non-governmental organizations, and public bodies towards sustainable development.

Social Awareness Projects

In addition to sustainability courses, OzU students take part in social responsibility projects, contribute to social initiatives, and work on sustainability as an integral part of their education. To this end, Community Engagement Projects are run under the umbrella of Duyarlı OzU (OzU Cares) under the Dean of Students.  Duyarlı OzU is a student-led initiative that dates back to 2011. The initiative aims to promote sustainability, community engagement, and social responsibility, which are deeply rooted in Özyeğin University’s founding philosophy. The majority of the Duyarlı OzU projects falls within the scope of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal No:10 “Reduced Inequalities”.

The Duyarlı OzU (OzU Cares) Team runs the Community Engagement Projects of the Student Life Office with a 2-tier system. The first tier is SEC 101 course in which various seminars are offered, while the second tier is made up of OzU projects which engage all OzU students, faculty, and staff in making contributions.

Students take SEC101 in their freshman years, and throughout the semester, they work for 6 hours either at a partner NGO or in a Duyarlı OzU (OzU Cares) project. SEC 101 entails projects with children, animals, senior citizens, people with disabilities, or the HSE Department. The course requires all newly admitted students to volunteer for a community engagement project of their choice. Some of the activity reports of OzU Cares are:

OzU Cares 2015 - 2016 Academic Year Activitity Report (Turkish)

OzU Cares 2016 - 2017 Academic Year Activity Report (English)

In addtion, some of these projects are provided below.

SEC 101 Projects

  • Book Reading Project at Nişantepe Kindergarten
  • We’re Having Fun Learning at Nişantepe Primary School
  • Handcrafts Project at Nişantepe Primary School
  • Make A Wish
  • Year-End/April 23 Party at Nişantepe Primary School
  • Nursing Home Project
  • Interview with Seniors Project
  • Projects for People with Visual Impairment
  • People with Disabilities Week Project
  • Autism Awareness Time Project
  • Campus Shelter Project
  • HSE Projects
    • Waste Management and Environmental Awareness
    • Emergency Response Training
    • Occupational Safety and Environmental Practices in Construction Sites
    • Occupational Safety and Environmental Practices in Engineering
  • Book Stop Project
  • Cultural Exchange Project

Since 2011, 70 Duyarlı OzU (OzU Cares) projects have been undertaken with the contributions of 80 mentors and 4,100 students. OzU students have so far completed approximately 38,000 hours of Social Volunteer Work.

OzU Cares Projects Across Turkey

Duyarlı OzU (OzU Cares) undertakes three types of Community Engagement Projects across Turkey.

Shoeboxes of Hope: With the motto of “Children Should Smile, Not Once But Always”, Özyeğin University students, faculty, and staff collectively extended a helping hand to the children of Van who survived the earthquake. The initiative was later renamed as “Shoeboxes of Hope” and turned into a continuous project.

Wish Tree: The Wish Tree project makes children’s wishes come true every year in celebration of April 23 National Sovereignty and Children’s Day.

Twin School: The Twin School Project is a culmination of the Shoeboxes of Hope Project organized in 2014. Back on November 28, 2015, the Shoeboxes of Hope project organized a visit to Fikri Akay Primary School in Soma, Manisa, which has later become our twin school.

The visit sparked the Twin School Project. The project entails the renovation of a village school every spring as part of the Community Engagement Projects at OzU.

Law Clinics

In 2017 OzU signed a protocol with İstanbul Bar in order to support OzU students from Faculty of Law with their professional knowledge and practice as well as contributing to the solutions of legal challenges of people who have limited access to justice. Law Clinics has been offered as a course to OzU students with the aim of applying their academic knowledge into practice.

With this protocol, students taking Law Clinics course are involved in as observers in the pro bono provision of legal services to applicants with support from lawyers from İstanbul Bar Legal Aid Bureau.

OzU Couple and Family Center (ÖzÜÇAM)

ÖzÜÇAM is an education, research and execution center a sub-branch of Couple and Family Therapy, one of OzU’s post graduate programs, operating since 2017. Center’s priority target is to provide therapy services for middle and low-income individuals, couples, and families unable to  afford a therapy session. In this regard, believing that family is the basis of a society, with the goal of supporting family relationships, ÖzÜÇAM renders couple and family therapy accessible from children to couples, large families and groups, aims to make couple and family therapy accessible to low and middle income families and couples, aiming to make societal and scientific contributions.  For further information, please click here to access the webpage of the Center.

ENO Tree Planting Event

ENO is an online environmental program launched in Finland in 2004 to promote sustainable development. ENO started off with 50 educational institutions from 30 countries 10 years ago. Today, ENO is a global environmental program which facilitated the planting of 24 million trees in collaboration with 10,000 educational institutions from 157 countries. ENO endeavors to contribute to world peace by planting trees and protecting environment. To this end, each year, a tree planting ceremony is held simultaneously all over the world in September and May.

Since 2014, we have been planting trees for peace on campus at OzU during the first week of each new academic year. To date, we have planted over 1,200 seedlings.

Since 2016, SUR Conferences have been organized with the academic cooperation between Turkish Industry and Business Association (TÜSİAD) and Özyeğin University under the auspices of Global Compact. The conferences bring together the inspiring actors of sustainability to give inspiration for the economic, ecological, social, and cultural dimensions of sustainability.

The University hosts a Young Guru Academy (YGA), a program to identify future leaders and to cultivate them as ‘socially conscious leaders’ through field experience (http://www.yga.org.tr/en/).

Within this program, 50 students are chosen as YGA volunteers who will then be able to attend a training session given by YGA Dream Partners, which consist of artists, academics, business people and scientists. After receiving those trainings, students will have a chance to participate camps in the United States, to work on their ideas about renewable energy, visually impaired people and orphans.

Equal Opportunities in Education Scholarship Program has initiated to address the financial problems of successful students who are not able to afford an education at international standards.

The program, which came into effect in 2015-2016 academic year, has reached 86 in 2018-2019 academic year. Within this program, students will be able to have 100% academic scholarship in any faculty, stay at the dorms free of charge, and receive monthly stipend.

OzU Orientation Day is the first day of the new students on campus. During that day new students meet with their cohorts, their Deans and the Rector, gain deeper information about OzU and have a fun, bright day.

Since 2014, “Smile to the Future” has been organized in order to introduce OzU’s social conscience to the newest students from the first day. Students spend the entire day with their groups led by their Peer Advisors by following the program. Last part of the day includes a team building activity; assembling parts of a bicycle that came disassembled.  Once students are done with assembling, they are asked to sit with their groups and one representative from Student Life Office comes up to the stage and addresses to the sequel of the bikes; they are gifts to the kids in rural-like areas.

Start-up Factory is Turkey’s first start-up incubation prgram which was established in 2011 at OzU. Start-up Factory is a business incubation program, that helps entrepreneurs who would like to establish tech-based and sustainable businesses with lean start-up methodology and supports them with trainings, mentoring and infrastructure. Start-up Factory is an economic social responsibility project that has no profit target, mainly aiming to teach potential entrepreneurs to “think like an entrepreneur” as well as to support the entrepreneurship ecosystem.

Social entrepreneurs and social enterprises are one of the biggest part of this mission. Starting from this mission, Social Change Labs was a program that gave training, infrastructure, seed fund and mentoring support from Özyeğin University and Community Volunteers Foundation (TOG) to the social entrepreneurs who would seeks social good.

The program supported more than 20 social enterprises in 2014 and 2015.

Social Entrepreneurship Seminar, was an experience sharing event which was held in 2009 in order to contribute the social awareness on campus.

Main aim of the competition that was held in 2011 was to contribute social good and produce some projects on better usage of public services, education and rural development. At the same time, creating a campus-wide knowledge on social responsibility, social entrepreneurship and social business.

The aim of the two weeks long workshop, organized in cooperation with Hüsnü Özyeğin Foundation, targeted high school students. The aim was for the students to experience the university environment thus increasing their motivation to attend a university, raise their social responsibility awareness and foster their psycho-social development through workshops some of which are critical thinking, business simulation, career planning, case studies on different topics, arts and sports, team building, field trips etc...

10.000 Women is a certification program created by Goldman Sachs, international investment bank, in 2008. Between 2010 - 2014 Özyeğin University was the partner institution in Turkey.  The projects aims to,

  • Supporting sharing economy by giving business and management training to women,
  • Facilitating women to grow their businesses and as a result of that, they would be able to create other job opportunities as well,
  • Increase the capacities and empower women who did not receive a high quality business education,
  • Support alumni to be a global player by offering mentorship and creating a network

A 2014 competition among students from Turkish Universities on their environmental and community projects.  Two student groups from OzU participated and made it to the finals by designing projects to make the campus more environmentally conscious and to foster sustainable environmental practices. One of the OzU teams - OzU Mobility - along with its peers from Boğaziçi University - BounToGreen - were the winners of the competition and they were able to participate in a sustainability camp at Chicago University.