Andrew Kaufman

• Educational entrepreneur

• Creator of the renowned Books Behind Bars program featured on PBS

• Internationally recognized popular Russian literature scholar


Andrew D. Kaufman is an author, educational entrepreneur, teaching expert, and Russian literature scholar whose work has been featured on The Today Show, NPR, PBS, and as well as in the Washington Post and the Moscow Times.

A nationally recognized expert on teaching innovation and service-learning, Kaufman is currently an Associate Professor and Assistant Director of the Center for Teaching Excellence at the University of Virginia, where he helps faculty across the country create profound learning experiences that change students’ lives while making important contributions to their communities. At UVa he created and teaches a renowned community-based literature course, “Books Behind Bars: Life, Literature and Leadership,” in which university students have life-changing discussions about Russian literature with incarcerated youth at a juvenile correctional center in Virginia. The course has been featured in the Washington Post, on The Today Show, and on Russian national television, and it is the subject of the feature documentary film, Seats At The Table, which has appeared at film festivals throughout the United States (including SXSW EDU), France, and Great Britain. In 2020 Seats At The Table will air nationally on PBS.

In addition to his teaching expertise, Dr. Kaufman is a nationally recognized Russian language, literature, and culture expert who has spent the last twenty-five years bringing the Russian classics to life for Americans young and old. Kaufman holds a Ph.D. in Slavic Languages and Literatures from Stanford University, and he’s the author of Give ‘War and Peace’ a Chance: Tolstoyan Wisdom for Troubled Times, and Understanding Tolstoy as well as co-author of Russian for Dummies. He was a featured Tolstoy expert for, and has appeared on various national and international TV and radio shows.

Dr. Kaufman is an in-demand keynote speaker who has spoken at TEDx, the Aspen Institute, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Leo Tolstoy Museum and Estate at Yasnaya Polyana, and at book clubs and libraries, corporations, prisons, and colleges and universities across the United States. A professionally-trained actor and long-time college professor, he is an entertaining and inspirational speaker who draws on the wisdom of great books as well as his journey as an educator to offer audiences nourishment for the mind and soul, while also providing them with practical insights that are immediately applicable to their own lives.

To learn more about Dr. Kaufman, please visit his website at

[📁 Andrew's Press Kit]

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Speech topics

Teaching the Five Critical Skills Every Student Must Have in the Twenty-First Century to Change the World

In our fast-changing and unpredictable globalized world, teachers, college professors, and administrators alike are thinking hard about how best to equip students for the challenging world they’re about to enter. In this inspirational and entertaining keynote, Andrew Kaufman—educational entrepreneur, literature professor, and creator of the renowned Books Behind Bars program—reveals the five critical skills every high-school and college student must learn in order to succeed, lead, and make a positive impact on their world in the twenty-fist century: creativity, empathy, collaboration, self-reflection, and resilience. Kaufman draws on powerful examples from his own Books Behind Bars program, which international education expert Ken Bain calls “one of the most brilliant and highly effective examples of service-learning and learning by doing I’ve encountered,” and has been featured on The Today Show, NPR, Katie Couric and the Washington Post. Books Behind Bars is also the subject of a feature documentary film, Seats At The Table, airing nationally on PBS in the Spring of 2020.

Be the Change You Wish To See: Creating Equity, Fairness, and Social Justice in Business and Community

In this keynote, educational entrepreneur and creator of the renowned Books Behind Bars program inspires the audience with powerful, timely lessons on how to truly understand and respect each other, no matter what walk of life we may come from. The outcome is higher levels of compassion, empathy, and community, and the motivation to commit to a cause greater than yourself. Moving beyond the status quo requires bold, unorthodox thinking—something Andrew Kaufman knows about after having spent a decade creating and building Books Behind Bars, which has been featured on The Today Show, NPR, Katie Couric and the Washington Post. Books Behind Bars is also the subject of a feature documentary film, Seats At The Table, airing nationally on PBS in the Spring of 2020.


Understanding Tolstoy

Understanding Tolstoy recreates Tolstoy’s lifelong artistic and spiritual journey, taking readers to the core of the writer’s world through nuanced close readings of his major novels and novellas.

Give War and Peace a Chance: Tolstoyan Wisdom for Troubled Times

From a popular Tolstoy scholar: an entertaining, thought-provoking, and accessible argument for why War and Peace is more relevant to readers now than ever.

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