"The reality film creates is extremely important to us, as it exists in its own constant reality outside of our reality, which changes around us."
For more than 20 years, Slava Yastremski has strived to create a dynamic learning environment that is responsive to the academic desires of the student body, is academically rigorous, and promotes Bucknell's reputation as a top-notch liberal arts institution.
As a faculty member of both the Russian studies and the comparative humanities programs at Bucknell, one of Yastremski's main goals is to bring Russian literature and culture to a broad array of U.S. audiences. He teaches a wide range of Russian courses, including Russian theatre, Russian cinema and business Russian, and says his most exciting courses are his sister courses on the history of Russian culture, for which he wrote the textbooks himself. Yastremski has also published several successful translations of works by prominent Soviet writers and poets, along with numerous scholarly articles on Russian poets and writers, and on popular culture.
Yastremski is also the academic co-coordinator, with Professor Katherine Faull, of the Residential Colleges program, a program of themed living-learning communities for first-year students. Students who choose this program are grouped by colleges of interest and live and study together, organizing activities outside of class, taking field trips and having on-hall discussions with peers and faculty members.
The classroom extends far beyond the campus, says Yastremski. For example, Residential College students participate in the Bucknell/Fiver program, meeting and mentoring inner-city students about the expectations of college, while gaining a very different perspective than what they might find on campus. "I want the students to experience the wider world out there, and empathize with what challenges that might entail for some people," says Yastremski. "They become more immersed in what they learn. I believe this will become the new face of Bucknell."
Residential Colleges is not the first academic program Yastremski has coordinated. In 2000, he started the Film Studies minor, an interdepartmental program that helps students appreciate and understand the cinematic medium and its impact as a cultural and artistic force. According to Yastremski, "Until the Internet, film was the most effective source of mass communication. The nature of film makes it the most real and unreal of all the arts, the shadow of the image on the filmstrip. The reality film creates is extremely important to us, as it exists in its own constant reality outside of our reality, which changes around us."
He sums up his search for challenging and innovative pathways to academic growth for his students, saying, "The key word to all of my work is 'engagement.' I don't want to teach so much as I want my students to discover things. If you're not engaged in what you're doing, then what's the point?"
Posted October 2012
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