An innovative, award-winning teacher of Russian language, literature, and culture, Dr. Andrew D. Kaufman holds a Ph.D. in Slavic languages and literatures from Stanford University and has spent the last twenty-five years bringing alive the Russian classics to Americans young and old. A nationally-recognized Russian literature scholar at the University of Virginia, Dr. Kaufman is the author of Give War and Peace a Chance: Tolstoyan Wisdom for Troubled Times (Simon & Schuster) and Understanding Tolstoy (The Ohio State University Press), as well as co-author of Russian for Dummies. He is a featured Tolstoy expert on Oprah.com, and is frequently invited to discuss Russian literature and culture on national and international television and radio programs.
In addition to his Russian expertise, Dr. Kaufman is the founder and teacher of the community-based literature course, “Books Behind Bars: Life, Literature and Leadership,” in which university students meet weekly with incarcerated youth at a maximum security juvenile correctional center to explore questions of meaning, value, and social justice though life-changing conversations about Russian literature. The course has been featured in the Washington Post, on Katie Couric, NPR, and Russian national television, and is the subject of the feature documentary film, Seats at the Table. Ken Bain, a major international education expert and author of the best-selling What the Best College Teachers Do, calls Books Behind Bars “the ultimate example of service learning and learning by doing, one of the most brilliant and highly effective I’ve encountered.”
Dr. Kaufman has been invited to speak about his teaching innovation and scholarship at the Aspen Institute, TEDx, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Russian Academy of Sciences, and at book clubs and libraries, corporations, prisons, colleges and universities across the United States. He hopes Seats at the Table in conjunction with talks and workshops will inspire audiences to appreciate the power of education to affect personal and social change, as well as help them recognize their potential to make a meaningful difference in the lives of others.
A professionally-trained actor and long-time college instructor, Dr. Kaufman is also an entertaining and inspirational keynote speaker who draws on the wisdom of great Russian books, as well as his own lifelong journey with them, to offer audiences nourishment for the mind and soul, while also providing them with practical insights that are immediately applicable to their own lives.