Putting a new Twist on education

Courtesy+of+Kim+Twist+

Courtesy of Kim Twist

by David Ayala , Contributor

Twenty-sixteen is a big year for political science professor Kim Twist.

She moved to San Diego last June, began teaching at San Diego State this fall and is in the process of planning her December wedding.

“I can say that I enthusiastically and happily hired her,” chair of the political science department Ronnee Schreiber said. “She’s fantastic. She makes an excellent colleague: she’s organized, smart, productive and collegial.”

But how is it that a Western European politics professor from Philadelphia ends up teaching at SDSU?

The story begins when she arrived at New York University in Manhattan.

“I wanted to move into a big city, I wanted to be a journalist, a big city is the right place for that… the big city life was totally for me,” Twist said.

After deciding she didn’t want to be a reporter anymore, Twist spent time figuring out what she wanted to study.

“I worked a lot of jobs, I worked at publishing for a time, and I was a wedding planner,” she said.

It was only after a semester abroad in London that Twist became clear about what her true passion was.

“I wasn’t a politically active prodigy, but when I was undergrad … I went to the campus in London and I took classes on (European Union) politics,” Twist said.

“I remember sitting in class and thinking, this is fascinating.

There was something about immersing yourself in another country’s culture, reading the newspaper, seeing what people are talking about, hearing what matters to them.”

Her newly found passion prompted her to get a master’s degree, and then it was off to her next destination: UC Berkeley.

“I did not want to leave the East Coast … I came for a visit and I loved it, it felt comfortable,” Twist said. “The (Berkeley) campus there is its own place. It was a much more supportive environment. It just kind of felt right.”

Some of the people she named as inspirations are Tony Judt, a historian who also teaches at NYU, and David Art, a political scientist and writer.

“They are people who can take something that is very dense and make it in a very way for anyone without political knowledge to just pick up and read,” she said. I think that that’s something all academics should inspire to do, be able to communicate in a way anyone can understand.”

After completing her doctorate and being named a recipient of teaching honors by UC Irvine and UC Berkeley, Twist made SDSU her next stop.

“I want to meet people; I’m new here (at SDSU). I would like to get a sense here of what people are all about.”

Despite having to make adjustments for living in Southern California, Twist said she is enjoying San Diego.

“So far, so good in San Diego! The weather, obviously, is as advertised … and the more relaxed lifestyle. I regularly feel like I’m the only one in a hurry,” Twist said.

Twist’s area of expertise is European politics, focusing on how mainstream and extreme parties interact with voters and with each other, according to the political science department’s website.  This semester, she’s teaching Introduction to Comparative Politics, where students learn analytical models and techniques to examine problems of decision making and control in political systems.

When she’s not teaching, Twist enjoys  baking, pop quizzes and playing sports Despite having just started her career here at SDSU, Twist hopes to make an impact on the campus community.

“Maybe having (students) think about the world in a slightly different way, if there is one thing I could share with them that leads them to leave the class thinking a slightly different way than they did when they came in, I think that that’s it,” Twist said.