Faithful readers of Vivastgasse 7 may have noticed that we haven’t posted anything in a while now- the reasons are numerous, but it mostly boils down to the fact that two of us (Anton and I) are in the middle of resolving several quasi-bureaucratic/ quasi-academic things: Anton is right now in Ukraine, finishing up his thesis and busy planning his move to Paris in a couple of months for his first postdoc. I’m busy planning a move as well- off to Durham next month for five months. So both of us are sort of ‘out-of-commission’ right now. However, I do intend to post something soon (maybe this weekend?) either on schemes over the mysterious “field with one element” or better yet, an unpacking of our guest-blogger Sniggy Mahanta’s post on conformal field theories. (Thanks goes to AJ Tolland for pointing out some gross inaccuracies in that post!)
But here is the main reason for this (non-mathematical) post- to vent!
It turns out that some very well-meaning people (lead by Ali Nesin) started a mathematical summer camp in Sirince, Turkey- the idea of the camp was to provide motivated undergrads with exposure to mathematics beyond what is usually taught at the universities. I personally like these sorts of camps very much. I doubt it that I would have become a research mathematician had I not been exposed to such camps and REUs while I was an undergrad. (The summer of 2002 is particularly memorable- I attended the IAS/PCMI summer program on automorphic forms; I’ve been smitten by number theory since.) Our American colleagues will also look appreciate summer camps for high school students such as the Ross program at Ohio State and PROMYS at Boston University.
Anyway, coming back to the summer school in Turkey something really bizarre happened (almost Kafkaesque in nature) towards the middle of the program (which was to last till the end of this month)- it was shut down by the authorities for providing “education without permission”!!! (A complete account of the whole story is to be found in Alexandre Borovik’s blog)
This is simply unacceptable! While I have some guesses as to why such a thing may have happened, the academic nature of this blog prevents me from making conjectures of a political nature here. I will only say this: such behavior will only hurt the Turkish scientific aspirations in the long run, not to mention the fact that it puts Turkish political and educational authorities in a very bad light in the West. On behalf of all like-minded mathematicians and educators, I call on the Turkish authorities to immediately allow the reopening of the camp as well as issuing a public statement as to why they closed the camp in the first place. (Sorry, the oh-so-glib “educating without permission” simply doesn’t cut it! I also ask the readers of this blog to visit Save Mathematical Summer School blog (explicitly devoted to this issue) to sign a petition to the Turkish premier asking him to intervene.