The American Association of University Women (AAUW) awarded its 2019-20 American Fellowship to Elena Aydarova, Ph.D. Aydarova is an Assistant Professor of Social Foundations in the College of Education’s Department of Educational Foundations, Leadership, and Technology.
“The fellowship is a highly competitive and prestigious award, the recipients of which are selected from a national competition across all academic disciplines,” Aydarova said. “I am honored to receive this award and thrilled about the opportunity for conducting innovative research supported by this fellowship.”
Aydarova plans to spend a year analyzing transformations in teacher education policies and practices under the influence of the nonprofit sector.
“My interdisciplinary research examines the interaction between global social change and the work of teachers and teacher education through the lens of equity, diversity, and social justice,” she said. “In particular, I am interested in how various policy actors transform teacher education and the implications of these transformations for marginalized, underserved, and underrepresented groups.”
Aydarova’s winning proposal was entitled “Winning the War of Ideas: The Rise of Technocracy in Teacher Education Policies.” This line of research builds on her first book, Teacher Education Reform as Political Theater: Russian Policy Dramas, coming out with SUNY in October. In the book, she analyzed how a small group of Russian academics revamped Russian teacher education in pursuit of social change that normalized inequality.
Aydarova earned her Master’s at the University of South Carolina and completed her Ph.D. at Michigan State University where her dissertation won multiple awards. Before coming to Auburn, she was a postdoctoral fellow at Arizona State University. She has authored nearly twenty book chapters and articles in such journals as Anthropology and Education Quarterly, Teaching and Teacher Education, and Education Policy Analysis Archives, among others. She is the recipient of the 2016-17 Concha Delgado Gaitan Presidential Fellowship from the Council of Anthropology and Education as well as the 2019-20 Global Teacher Educator Fellowship from the Longview Foundation. Along the way, she spent a dozen years as a teacher educator in China, the United Arab Emirates, and the U.S.
“I have been at Auburn for two years and am grateful for the support I have received,” she said. “I have been encouraged by Dean Whitford, of course, and my department head, Sheri Downer, has worked with me to ensure I have the space to do my research. I appreciate Rodney Greer’s guidance during the final stages of the fellowship award process and Jared Russell’s support for my scholarly pursuits. This kind of leadership and collegiality has allowed me do groundbreaking work that enabled me to receive this fellowship.”
This spring, Aydarova received an intramural grant for research initiation, which allowed her to conduct preliminary research for the work she will be doing during the fellowship year.
“It’s been a busy year and I look forward to starting work on the fellowship,” she said. “In the fall I’ll be travelling to conduct interviews and do research in places where policy ideas are passed along from nonprofits to policymakers. The support of AAUW provides me the resources to further establish my research program and advance my career.”
AAUW is one of the world’s leading supporters of graduate women’s education. Over the past 130 years, it has provided more than $115 million in fellowships, grants, and awards to 13,000 women from more than 145 countries.
Aydarova is the first professor at Auburn University to win the AAUW American Fellowship.
For the 2019-20 academic year, AAUW is awarding a total of $4 million through seven fellowships and grants programs to 259 scholars, research projects, and programs promoting education and equity for women and girls.
American Fellowships, AAUW’s largest funding program, began in 1888, making it one of the world’s oldest and more prestigious fellowship programs exclusively for women. These fellowships support women scholars who are completing doctoral dissertations, conducting postdoctoral research, or finishing research for publication.
“AAUW’s fellows and grantees have made major contributions to our society and to the world at large,” said Kim Churches, the chief executive officer of AAUW. “These trailblazers are breaking the mold in nontraditional fields and redefining what leadership looks like. AAUW is proud to support them with the resources they need to excel.”