Pioneer Scholar Spotlight: Baris

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Baris Scholar Spotlight

Pioneer scholar Baris, from Turkey, wants to change the world. His Pioneer experience gave him tools that he hopes to use to accomplish that goal.

“I live in a country that is in the middle of everything,” says Baris. Turkey borders eight countries, with influences from the Middle East, the Balkans, Russia and Europe, and Baris grew up hearing politics discussed on the news. “From a young age, I was interested in international relations, and I started reading and doing research on my own and became interested in comparative politics.” Although many people in his country identify with one particular group, Baris says “I see myself as a Turkish citizen and I also identify as an international person.”

Baris’s research concentration in European integration provided a way for him to reflect on how two quite different countries might find ways to cooperate that would benefit both. “My philosophy of doing the research was being helpful to my country and its relations with the outer world.” Baris’s research topic was a comparative study of the post-Brexit United Kingdom and present-day Turkey, which seems unlikely to integrate into the European Union. His hypothesis was that since Brexit had caused the UK to lose easy access to its European markets, Turkey’s unique location in the middle of so many diverse potential markets could offer the UK an efficient new way to improve its export economy.

For his research, Baris read dozens of articles and consulted many websites. He studied the countries’ economies pre-Brexit and post-Brexit, pre-COVID and post-COVID. He also analyzed texts from speeches and newspaper articles to find out what politicians and policy-makers had been saying at the time, using primary sources to supplement reading other scholar’s analyses. In the end, his research supported his hypothesis. He concluded that Turkey and the UK “have a lot to gain from each other’s partnership,” and would both benefit from working on building a stronger relationship. Baris also recommended specific actions, such as a more extensive bilateral trade agreement, and making use of Turkey’s strong labor force, that would be steps toward accomplishing this goal.

Baris’s sense of himself as a global citizen was strengthened in a practical way by his time with Pioneer. Talking with the other scholars in his international cohort, from places as diverse as Venezuela, China, Uzbekistan, and Canada, about their own domestic politics was eye-opening. “I learned a lot about many different countries, and it was really meaningful to see their perspectives.”  

Baris has found that his Pioneer Research Program has completely changed the way he approaches any kind of study. As an entering student at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania, he says, “I view education as research, and I see the classes that I take as doing research. While I’m learning about those topics, I always think about a way that I can contribute to those fields.” And all this research has the same goal: “I want to be someone who positively influences society.”

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