MSU's Steven Babbitt's story receive Heydar Aliyev Award

Mon 07 May 2012 01:30 GMT | 05:30 Local Time

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Steven Babbitt, 22, a graduating senior at Montana State University’s Department of Political Science, has won the 2012 Heydar Aliyev Award for Excellence in Azerbaijan-related Academic Endeavor.

'I am delighted and honored,' said Babbitt, who also received a $1,000 check in addition to his certificate. “Azerbaijan has become my obsession.”

The Heydar Aliyev Award was delivered by Ramil Gurbanov, Vice Consul of the Azerbaijan Consul general to Los Angeles, California and the 12 western US states, including Montana. This is the third year a student from MSU has been recognized with the prize.

Babbitt, who traveled to Azerbaijan in 2010 as part of Professor Thomas Goltz’s “New Silk Road” intense, traveling summer school course on energy and environmental issues, wrote his senior thesis on a statistical analysis of western media reporting on the Karabakh conflict between the years 1988-94, focusing on the use of key, emotive words such as ‘enclave’ to describe the Soviet-era autonomy, ‘Muslim’ to describe Azerbaijan or Azerbaijanis and ‘Christian’ to describe Armenia or Armenians.’
“I need to expand the study before coming up with any definitive conclusions but my preliminary findings suggest a disproportionate use of potentially ‘loaded’ and thus misleading terms of reference,” said Babbitt.

Babbitt was also the MSU captain of two diplomatic simulations under Goltz’s direction—a course based on the 12-member Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (which has active participation by Azerbaijan) as well as the 22-member Model Arab League. The MSU team participated both in a regional competition in Salt Lake City, as well as in the national competition in Washington DC, where the MSU delegation took home numerous awards, including the chairmanship of the important Environmental Affairs committee.

While in Washington, the MSU team had the chance to meet with H.E. Elin Suleymanov, the Azerbaijan ambassador to the United States.

Suleymanov was formerly Consul General to Los Angeles and a frequent visitor to Montana.





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