A new Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad grant will allow UA faculty members to bring Arizona teachers to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan for a curriculum development trip next summer.
University of Arizona faculty members in the Department of Russian & Slavic Studies and Center for Middle Eastern Studies will partner with colleagues from New Mexico Highlands University on the project, “Central Asia: Crossroads of Civilizations.”
Naomi Caffee, a visiting assistant professor of Russian & Slavic studies, will accompany 14 K-12 and community college educators from rural Arizona and New Mexico on a 28-day trip to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, a significant but understudied region. Joining Caffee on the project are Lisa Adeli, director of educational outreach for the UA’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies, and Erika Derkas, professor of sociology and women’s studies at New Mexico Highlands University.
Through a study of literature, history, languages, architecture, politics, gender studies, environmental sustainability, and ethnic relations, educators will analyze cultural interactions in the borderlands where the Muslim and Orthodox Christian worlds come into contact and where Slavic, Persian, and Turkic languages and cultures meet. The teachers will travel to museums and cultural sites and meet with Kazakh and Uzbek teaching counterparts.
The teachers are drawn from areas with little access to international programs for themselves or their students. The participants will create curriculum modules or extended lesson plans on the that can be integrated into many commonly-taught humanities and social science courses. Each participant then will give presentations at education conferences or community programs, ensuring that the project will promote global learning at schools throughout the rural Southwest and beyond.
Faculty in the Department of Russian & Slavic Studies are developing several other initiatives that focus on Central Asia. The department will host a Nov. 3 symposium on “Russia and the Muslim World,” which includes a panel on Central Asian studies. Currently offered courses include “Kazakhstan - Heart of Eurasia” and “Multicultural Russia,” which focus on different aspects of Central Asian culture. Arizona in Kazakhstan, a new study abroad program directed by Liudmila Klimanova, offers a summer intensive program in Russian and Eurasian studies, hosted by the Nazarbayev University School of Humanities and Social Sciences in Astana, Kazakhstan, which will also host the Fulbright-Hays participants.