Dr. Yael Warshel, Assistant Professor at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) gave an interview to Washington Bureau of AzerTAc following her recent visit to Azerbaijan.SIA reports quoting the AzerTac.
- You recently attended Baku International Humanitarian Forum. What are your general impressions about the forum itself and the capital of Azerbaijan?
I was very impressed with the caliber of forum participants. It was a delight to learn about areas outside the scope of my own work and speak comparatively with those in related areas. In particular, I pleasantly found journalists participating in the media roundtable knowledgeable about empirical and historical evidence regarding communication processes and effects. As a result, namely from my perspective as a scholar, professional-scholarly exchange was exceptional and I learned a great deal.
- Metaphorically speaking, what puts Azerbaijan on the map for you? What is significant about Azerbaijan that will draw the attention of an American to this country?
As a communication scholar, it is Azerbaijan’s historical location along the Silk Route that most interests me, namely the resultant formation of Azerbaijani cultural hybrid forms owed to the exchange of goods, language and culture along the route.
- What should be done to enhance educational and cultural exchange between Azerbaijan and the United States?
Education and cultural exchange could be enhanced between Azerbaijan and the US by establishing links between universities to increase study abroad opportunities and research collaborations. In particular, creating in-residency fellowship opportunities for American scholars, for example those modeling opportunities developed by the Council of American Overseas Research Centers (CAORC) and/or in concert with them, might be a helpful idea to consider. Currently, CAORC offers no opportunities for scholarly exchange anywhere in the Caucuses so it might be an area worth investigating. Finally, exploring the creation of centers for the study of Azerbaijan or the Caucuses on US college campuses might be worthwhile to consider as well. A model worth exploring for comparison is that of the Confucius institute, established by China to promote Chinese language and culture. They partner Chinese and American educational institutions together.