Jeanette Blain | Staff Writer | @JeanetteBlain
A lecturer in the History and Political Science Department at UVU was recently featured in The New York Times in Education Toolkit for his innovative and effective teaching style.
Professor Baktybek Abdrisaev is one of only 14 educators from around the country to be represented in this teaching supplement, which was produced by The New York Times in partnership with the American Association of Colleges and Universities.
Abdrisaev’s Introduction to International Relations course uses The New York Times as a key part of the curriculum. At the start of the semester, students are assigned a country to follow in the news. They are then required to read the paper and find articles about that country. Each lecture period starts with a class discussion on what the students have found.
To show that they understand the foreign policy processes at work, students are also required to write two short response papers during the semester.
According to Abdrisaev, newspapers are not only reliable sources of fresh information, but they also “present the audience with a chance to do more critical thinking.”
Abdrisaev draws on his experience in Washington D.C., as a diplomat for the Republic of Kyrgyz from 1997-2005, to teach students. He says reading several newspapers a day was an essential part of the job and wants to instill this habit in his students.
“If they start to read,” said Abdrisaev, “they immediately start to analyze and think.”
The Kyrgyz Republic, once part of the Soviet Union, has had its share of political turmoil. In 2005, an uprising, dubbed the “Tulip Revolution”, ousted then president, Askar Akayev.
Abdrisaev made an official statement that the act was an unconstitutional change of regime and left his position as Ambassador of the Kyrgyz Republic to the United States and Canada.
It was in 2005 that Abdrisaev was invited to teach at UVU.
He likes the environment here at the school and enjoys building relationships with students.
“There are so many brilliant students here at UVU,” Abdrisaev said.
He tries to encourage students to develop their strengths so they can build confidence and flourish.
Abdrisaev has written political articles for The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal. One of his goals is to see his students publish articles, especially in The New York Times.
He says the best thing that students can do to be successful in diplomacy, or any field, is to be innovative, creative and curious.
“And do not rest,” he said. “Life is so short; you need to be very active.”