October 28, 2019 Print

Freedom Research Association (FRA), an Atlas Network partner in Ankara, Turkey, has successfully operated a massive open online course about the rule of law and its importance. Known as ROLA MOOC, or Rule of Law Massive Online Open Course, the digital program is helping students deepen their understanding of the law and the importance of justice, and is also connecting young academics with the legal experts who helped FRA create and structure the course.

The roots of the program began in 2017, when FRA launched the Rule of Law Academy, a series of lectures and training's that explained the principles of justice and the importance of the rule of law in society. With the input of prominent legal experts who delivered the lectures, the Rule of Law Academy targeted law students and became known for presenting complex questions in an accessible manner. This early success spurred FRA to expand the project so it could reach a larger audience.

“The rule of law is frequently mentioned yet actively undermined in Turkey,” explained Medeni Sungur, Executive Director of Free Research Association. “It’s paramount for younger generations to learn what it is and why it is important. ROLA MOOC provides that knowledge in an easy-to-access way.”

ROLA MOOC has been very well received by both local civil society institutions and students, who have told FRA that they appreciate the course’s focus on providing both practical and philosophical perspectives on the law, both of which are essential to strong and enduring democratic institutions. The course has also begun to forge a strong network of like-minded individuals. Students from universities all across Europe and Turkey have participated, with more than 40% of participants new to the study of law.  

Increased appreciation for the rule of law is particularly important to FRA. Liberal values are hardly the norm in the Middle East, and groups championing them are a crucial asset for champions of liberty. Sungur emphasized the importance of being connected to other such groups. 

“Given the hostility that has grown in the last 10 years towards liberal ideas in Turkey, being a part of Atlas Network is a tremendous form of solidarity,” Sungur concluded. “This gives us the feeling that we are not alone in either our struggles nor in the challenges as we execute our mission.”

FRA’s long term objective is future protection of rule of law. Sungur believes that the first step toward achieving this goal is empowering young generations with the tools and the drive to defend justice. FRA’s course has strengthened understanding of Turkish law and commitment to rules, rights, and due process among the country’s youth. 

Freedom Research Association received a grant from Atlas Network to help fund the Massive Online Open Course on the importance of the Rule of Law.