This took place in Ankara on 12th – 15th October. It was a unique effort to bring together experts from different backgrounds, i.e academics, business people and civil society representatives instead of a fully academic gathering.
The organization closely followed the Liberty Fund style in terms of rules and format. One of the most tangible outcomes is that the participants were subscribed to the different branches of liberalism and not entirely from our own circles. A liberal institution has hosted a very quality debate between experts from different opinions, thus, it’s a net positive in terms of FRA’s capability and recognition.
A second difference was the academic levels of participants. Among them, we had a wide range in terms of academic level from masters degree, Ph.D. students, Assoc. Prof.s, full Prof.s. The absence of hierarchy and the structure created a level ground for people from different levels to learn from each other.
Thirdly, the participants were coming from different fields including economics, political science, sociology, communication studies, and law. This gave a different spin to the discussions, departing on the same readings participants provided their unique contributions from the lenses of their own fields.
In the sense that the cohort was not entirely comprised of academics, we were able to collect input from very different backgrounds and practical life experiences. For example, the business perspective and the civil society contributions enriched the discussion in practical ways which we could not have been able to garner from an entirely academic crowd.
Also, all the diversity and authenticity in our program stimulated the academic and practical interest towards the topic of “populism” leading to a commitment for different participants towards working more closely on the topic, Thus, it created a ground for further collaboration on the topic and it created bonds with experts from outside FRA’s circle. FRA gained recognition as an independent research institution where people can come together under the universal ethical principles of scientific inquiry.