Visiting JFDP Scholar Bakhytnur Otarbayeva first came to Bloomington in 1994 as a Fulbright Scholar, when she was also invited and hosted by the Department of Central Eurasian Studies and the Inner Asian and Uralic Resource Center. At the time, she had been working as a Professor of Kazakh History at Kazakh National University; today she is the head of the Social Sciences Department at the International Academy of Business in Almaty. In both cases, Otarbayeva says, she has been very impressed by her welcome and the resources available at Indiana University. “Everything is just very professional here,” she notes. “I’m always looking for new teaching methodologies and approaches that can not only bring information to young people, but provoke them as well.”
Finding ways of encouraging student interest in history, political science, and other related subjects, Otarbayeva has found, allows her to fully “rework and redesign the syllabi” for the courses she teaches at the International Academy of Business. Although she has been worked in a variety of academic institutions and positions over the years, Otarbayeva believes that one should always find time to “upgrade professional skills and knowledge.” In her own case, as she goes on to describe, “I had a long break in my teaching career, and spent many years in the NGO sphere and in administrative university positions. Now I have returned to teaching full time – and am very grateful for the opportunity to spend a semester developing new methodologies here at IU.”
While she arrived in Bloomington in January, when the weather was hardly as welcoming as the university, Otarbayeva is looking forward to getting outside a bit more in the spring, and travelling a bit in the region. The chilly weather can help to keep one motivated and in the library–but hopefully not for too long. “There are a few conferences I’d like to attend,” she notes, “and hopefully during spring break I’ll be able to visit some other places in the US!”
In addition to Kazakh history and politics, Professor Otarbayeva’s research interests extend to corporate governance and socially responsible business practices. Recently named the head of a Corporate Responsibility Center at the International Academy of Business in Almtay, her work this semester at IUB is directly related to the development of course material for this Center.