Professor strives to challenge, engage students

An associate professor in the political science and African-American studies departments at UCF, Kurt Young teaches a variety of classes, including International Politics of Africa, Politics of Pan-Africanism, Malcolm X, Black Nationalism and Internationalism, and Black Intellectual Experience, among others.

“I’ve always felt that I had some sort of contribution to make, and what I learned was that there was a strong possibility to do so using higher education as an instrument,” Young said.

In Young’s classes, he focuses on three pillars: grounding students in literature, pushing students to engage themselves into research and preparing students to engage each other in a serious, intellectual dialogue. These pillars make an impact on students who have taken his classes.

Curtis Hierro, a graduate history student, took several of Young’s classes between fall 2009 and fall 2010.

“They were among the most edifying courses I took at UCF,” Hierro said. “Dr. Young really challenged his students in all his classes.”

Hierro said that Young encouraged and pushed students to not be passive learners, actually getting them interested in the literature, research and information on the subject matter, while engaging and empowering the students. Hierro even said that Young inspired him to go into the teaching field.

Kurt Young received his undergraduate degree in history with a focus in African history at the University of Florida. He then attended Clark Atlanta University for graduate school, where he received his master’s degree in African-American studies and his doctorate in political history. During his training and studies, Young was inspired by the teachings of W.E.B. DuBois, which helped spur him toward wanting to educate.

Originally, Young wanted to teach at the high-school level. However, he discovered that there were constraints as to what he could and could not teach, so instead he became a college professor, which gave him the opportunity to engage students in the way that he wanted to. He began his career at Morehouse College in 1994, where he taught history and African-American courses for seven years. During his time at Morehouse, Young also taught at other schools, such as Spelman and Clark-Atlanta, before transferring to UCF in spring 2004, where he has been teaching for eight years.

Read more about Young here.


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