Dr. Axel B. Corlu
Assistant Professor of HistoryDownload vCard
Born in Izmir, Turkey to a Levantine (Italian/Greek/French/Armenian) family, Dr. Corlu has a B.A. in political science and public administration from Bilkent University (1996), an M.A. in history from Bilkent University (1999), an M.A. in intelligence studies from American Military University – APUS (2012) and a Ph.D. in history from Binghamton University – SUNY (2011). He has also studied sociology at Middle East Technical University (1996-98).
Since 2002, he has taught history courses at SUNY-Binghamton, SUNY-Cortland, University of Mary Washington and Georgia Gwinnett College on the U.S., the Ottoman Empire, the Byzantine Empire and the Middle East, as well as thematic courses such as History of Warfare and History of Food.
He is a native speaker of Greek, Italian and Turkish.
Corlu has worked extensively in numerous archives around the world for his research, including
- Archivio Centrale dello Stato, Rome, Italy
- Centre International de Recherche sur l'Anarchisme, Lausanne, Switzerland
- Centre de Documentation Anarchiste, Nantes, France
- International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
- T.C. Basbakanlik Osmanli Arsivi, Istanbul, Turkey
- University of Washington Library, Special Collections, Seattle, Washington
Over the past 14 years, I have constantly learned new things about teaching through trial-and-error, observing mentors and colleagues and collecting student feedback. I have taught a wide range of courses in different subjects, levels and class sizes, with very different expectations from the institutions and the students. From 10-student seminars to 100+ student survey courses in auditoriums, I have had to adapt and reorganize my strategies and thinking about teaching to suit the present need, while still challenging students and keeping them engaged in the subject.
My approach to teaching is based on two observations. First, whenever I “spoon-feed” students and challenge them less than my instincts and experiences suggest, student performance follows suit and what they acquire from a class diminishes measurably. This is why I consistently try to challenge them through various methods; “the devil's advocate” is the most common – but certainly not the only – role I play in class discussions, nudging students out of their comfort zone and encouraging them to disagree with me. I deliberately stage debates where students are required to defend ideas and positions that are the opposite of what they really think; this helps in the development of critical thinking skills, as well as debate strategies that are useful for a lifetime. This observation/approach is valid from the smallest discussion-based advanced courses, to the largest, lecture-based survey courses. Only the details of its implementation changes.
Second, over the years I have found that the ability of students to see me as a human being, with relatable experiences and concerns, and not only as a distant “professor” determines their overall success in a course to a significant extent. While keeping professional boundaries and earning respect are equally important, the addition of an occasional personal experience or anecdote relevant to the subject contributes visibly to how (and how many) students participate in actively listening to lectures, or during discussions, absorbing what the course can offer them to its fullest extent.
Beyond these two pillars, I do not have any rigid principles or a highly theoretical, jargon-filled teaching philosophy; I have found that everything else is flexible, “negotiable” and open to experimentation, as I still feel I have more to learn about teaching.
- Doctorate – history – Binghamton University – SUNY
- Master’s – history – Bilkent University
- Master’s – intelligence studies – American Military University – APUS
- Bachelor’s – political science and public administration – Bilkent University
- History of food
- History of warfare
- Byzantine and Ottoman history
- Labor history
- Dubofsky Research Award, Binghamton University – SUNY (2003)
- Bilkent University Research Foundation Award (1998)