Local professor to teach in the Kyrgyz Republic
BRATTLEBORO -- Woden Teachout, Ph.D., Union Institute & University Professor of Graduate Studies, Master of Arts Program, has been awarded a Fulbright Scholar grant to teach in the Kyrgyz Republic, located in Central Asia, starting in the fall of 2014.
Her project, "Teaching Critical Thinking and Scholarly Practice: A Methodology for Faculty and Student Development," will involve teaching academic writing and faculty development. It builds on the Elements of Scholarship class that she and other faculty developed for Union's MA program.
"I am so honored to be chosen for this prestigious fellowship. It will be the experience of a lifetime," said Teachout. "I applied for a teaching rather than a research fellowship because I believe that it is what I can offer as a teacher that would be most useful in Kyrgyzstan. Teaching is my calling."
She is the fourth Union Institute & University professor to be awarded this prestigious honor. In the past, Professors Ashgar Zommorrodian, Linda Gray, and Chris Voparil have also earned Fulbright Scholar grants.
As an emerging democracy, the Kyrgyz Republic offers Teachout insight into the educational and political culture.
"I have always been interested in the cultural history of democracy, both as a scholar and a citizen," she said. "My work in American studies has explored various ways in which citizens have tried to foster democratic cultures, both through formal education and political action. My dissertation examined the hereditary groups of the late 19th century and the popular historical education with which they tried to Americanize immigrants and critique robber baron capitalism. My first book, "Capture the Flag," described the political history of American patriotism, as citizens fought bitterly over the flag's meaning as a way to define national values. My most recent book, "Slow Democracy," makes an argument for local democratic engagement as one of the most profound kinds of political education and the best way to reinvigorate American democracy."
Teachout said traveling to Kyrgyzstan gives her a chance to examine her convictions more closely and critically.
"They seem self-evident in the United States. But how do they translate to a country still emerging from its Soviet legacy? Is there a demonstrable relationship between democracy and an academic culture of critical thinking?"
The one-year fellowship will allow her to offer courses in American studies and academic writing, and assist faculty with curriculum development.
"An academic year in Kyrgyzstan will allow me insight into Kyrgyz educational and political culture, and, by reflection, the American democratic culture that I study. It will allow me to support the development of American studies, especially in the rural universities where it is a fledgling field."
Teachout is taking her family with her.
"I am ready to expand my world both professionally and personally. I am eager to share what I know, and also to explore new forms of teaching, new systems of education and new intellectual cultures. At the same time, my family is ready for an adventure. We have built a pastoral life in Vermont on a small homestead where we grow our own vegetables and chickens. Now, with our children approaching their teens, we want to open them up other cultures and other languages, not only as travelers passing through but as contributing members of a community."
For more information about Union Institute & University, visit www.myunion.edu or call 1- 800-861-6400.
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