In 1863, Protestant missionaries established Robert College in Constantinople, the capital of the Ottoman Empire, holding the distinction of being the pioneer American college abroad. In many cases, the American educators at Robert College understood the field of education as a superior tool for mission. The book brings into conversation the convergence of the Protestant mission movement in the Ottoman Empire with the diverse tones of American efforts for providing education and assisting of the economic and social progress. The author argues that despite being established as a religious institution with common goals and aspirations, Robert College did not fully progress and reach its ambitions until the school switched to what the founding fathers called a non-religious curriculum. Robert College exclusively abandoned its Christian theological curriculum by minimizing its explicitly Christian dimensions and became a school with greater financial and structural autonomy, which eventually gave the school the freedom to become crossroads of cultures, faiths and nationalities. The story of Robert College in Constantinople is a fascinating account for examining the influence of United States foreign affairs and culture on various aspects of society in the nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Ottoman Empire.
Nick Petrov is Assistant Professor of Religion and Campus Chaplain at Missouri Valley College.
Chapter 1. The Founding Years
Chapter 2. A Protestant School in the Ottoman Empire
Chapter 3. On the Shores of Bosporus.
Chapter 4. A Modern School in Modern Times
Chapter 5. A Fall of an Empire and a Rise of a College.
"Dr. Petrov's book on Robert College shows how the school significantly contributed to reforming Protestant missionary higher education. The reader will be surprised at Robert College's outsized influence in its political, social, and cultural pedagogical roles, especially with Bulgarian students, during the late Ottoman Empire. This book is a must for every educator or person interested in this period and its ramifications in today's world."
"Dr. Nikolay Petrov has written a thoughtful examination into the role of American Protestant mission and education in the Muslim world in his new book "Robert College of Constantinople." His book traces the nineteenth century roots of Robert College, an important Protestant mission education enterprise in the center of the Ottoman Empire. He engages many underappreciated critical themes at the intersection of Protestant encounter with the Muslim world in the 19th and 20th Century. His treatment of the development of Robert College in Constantinople will contribute to such diverse contemporary issues as: mission, globalization, and contextual readings of Christianity in the 19th and 20th centuries. It is a rich goldmine, stemming from Dr. Petrov's life and research through the lens of global Christianity. Students of religious history and mission in many disciplines will be much indebted to Dr. Petrov's work.”
"Petrov's volume is particularly helpful to understand the connection between Robert College and the quest for Bulgarian independence. He explains how the founders of Robert College have created a multi-national and multi-faith educational institution with a broad curriculum and provided its students with the foundation to be leaders in their various countries in their struggles for independence. Petrov further explains how these decisions eventually led to Robert College being one of the premier co-ed Turkish universities during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries."