As an invited speaker for the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of International Information Programs, FSCJ Professor of Biological Sciences Dr. Lourdes Norman-McKay recently lead workshops in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. These sessions were aimed at fostering a culture of innovation and promoting women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields. The initiative was designed to bolster U.S. Embassy cooperation between U.S. colleges and universities and institutions in these Central Asian nations––especially in student exchange and collaborative research programs.
For three weeks in June, Dr. Norman-McKay spoke to students and faculty members at universities and technical colleges about applying lessons from STEM fields to all sectors as a means of promoting a culture of innovation. She also spoke with education leaders about possible areas of cooperation between Tajik and Uzbek institutions and FSCJ.
Meetings are now underway to identify opportunities for connecting the endeavor to promote international education and FSCJ’s English Language Institute. Additionally, TEDxFSCJ will offer a collaborative program in the fall related to global contemporary STEM topics with an emphasis on women in STEM.
“We have some tangible opportunities here to help our students better understand this supremely misunderstood part of the world,” Dr. Norman-McKay said. “The Tajik and Uzbek people are hungry to join the global conversation and our government also has this as a policy priority. I hope that, in collaboration with a variety of Department of State initiatives, we can help them open that door.”
Through her experience, Dr. Norman-McKay met with the Deputy Minister of Education and Sciences, spoke before members of the National Academy of Sciences and shared her insights on innovation and a growth mindset with more than 500 students and teachers in four different cities across Tajikistan––including Dushanbe, Bokhtar, Khujand and Isfara. In Uzbekistan, her efforts were primarily concentrated in Tashkent, where she met with stakeholders from the Tashkent Medical Academy, the Institute of the Chemistry of Plant Substances, the Ministry of Innovative Development, the National Center for Advanced Technology, the National University of Uzbekistan and the Development Strategy Center.
U.S. Embassy Dushanbe Cultural Affairs Officer Todd Hughes said, “Many audience participants were young women, who were encouraged to see a female scientist successful in her field and expanding her opportunities through the very growth mindset that Lourdes advocated.”
While there, Dr. Norman-McKay also appeared on Oriat FM Radio Uzbekistan and the TV program “Point of View” hosted by Uzbekistan 24. View the segment here.