Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey

Russian Studies

Dr. Dmitri Trenin, Director of Moscow Carnegie Center with Russian program students during his visit to MIIS

Our Graduate Initiative in Russian Studies (GIRS) engages graduate students in active dialogue with Russian and Eurasian experts on issues of Russian politics, economy and security.

Graduate Initiative in Russian Studies (GIRS)

Funded by the Carnegie Corporation, GIRS provides unique opportunities for immersive and collaborative learning as students apply their Russian language skills to high-level work with visiting Russian experts. See the GIRS website for details on speakers, projects, and activities that students are engaged in.


Dr. Zhanna Zayonchkovskaya, Russia's leading expert on migration, with Russian program student during her visit to MIIS.

Sample Courses in Russian Studies

Vladimir Putin and his Russia

Throughout the course, students explore the role and the significance of Vladimir Putin’s personality in the evolution of contemporary Russia: its domestic and foreign policy, moral choices and economic standing of the Russian population, and a variety of approaches to analyzing the development of contemporary Russian state and society. Students analyze and discuss Vladimir Putin’s interviews, his speeches and press conferences, in addition to sociological studies and works of Russian philosophers and writers. Students listen to and discuss presentations of leading analysts, scholars and politicians from Russia.

Traditional and Non - Traditional Security Issues in Modern Russia

Throughout the course, students explore issues related to topics of non - traditional security such as human security, illegal migration, ecological security, international and domestic terrorism, and also topics of Russian-American relations, Russian-Chinese relations, and those regarding Russia’s defense capabilities. Students read, listen, translate, and analyze in Russian, formulating acquired knowledge through writing, discussions, and group and individual presentations. Students use authentic materials from various Internet sources, including government and NGO. Each student picks two topics of interest (one for the first half of the semester and another for the second) and gives presentations on the topic every week.

Intellectual and Political Discourse in Modern Russia

The course is devoted to studying the intellectual and political discourse of contemporary Russia. Students read, listen, translate, and analyze in Russian, formulating acquired knowledge through writing, discussions, and oral group and individual presentations. Students use online materials and articles suggested by the instructor. The topics include Russia’s search for self – identity in the XXI century, historical legacy and its impact on modern political practices, attitudes and social norms, role of the Orthodox Church in Russian society, relations between the authorities and population, role of the opposition in contemporary politics. An effort is made to introduce students to the main political, cultural and philosophical symbols of Russian society.

Sociological Overview of Russian Society

Students explore a variety of topics concerning the current political, economic and security situation in Russia and how it affects Russia’s citizens. Students learn about Russian politics and society in the twenty-first century through studying the data of sociological research conducted by Russia’s leading sociological centers. Classwork incorporates a variety of sources, including sociological surveys, press conferences, and official statements. Students learn to analyze Russian sociological data in order to understand the undercurrents of modern political life in Russia, electoral choices of the populations, problems, attitudes and aspirations of an average Russian citizen.

Politics, Security and Media in the Multipolar World

The course is a part of a larger Monterey Model curriculum arrangement, which consists of three groups of students specializing in Arabic, Chinese, and Russian languages and Area studies. The Monterey Model curriculum is devised in a way that allows students from different language groups and areas of expertise to come together several times during the semester in order to exchange their views and acquired knowledge pertinent to selected themes. Students, professors, and invited distinguished experts discuss differences in public, media and governmental views related to important international events and role of languages in regional politics. An effort is made to integrate various approaches to better understand domestic politics and foreign relations through cultural, historical, and political discourse. Students watch jointly news broadcasts in Arabic, Chinese, and Russian in order to better grasp the role of mass media in China, Russia, and the Middle East. Students acquire practical skills of working with interpreters and prepare their own presentations for some plenary sessions where they have to rely on assistance of interpreters to generate the discussion of their topics.

The joint coordinated curriculum will consist of the following topics:

  1. Ethnic composition, politics of the state towards minorities and religions.
  2. Religious political movements.
  3. Country specific topics related to regional security organizations, terrorism movements, perceptions of foreign and domestic threats.
  4. Language specific themes, for example: Arab spring: media coverage, History and Present of Russian-Chinese diplomatic collaboration, Mutual perception: case studies of Chinese business and China’s economic presence in Northern Africa, Role of Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Chinese, Russian, Arabic media strategies covering several political events, Differences and similarities in patterns of civil unrest and political/economic consequences in China, Russia, and Arabic speaking countries.

Faculty of Russian Studies

Adjunct Faculty

Translation of English-language journalistic, literary, and business texts and website localization. Translation of Russian-language journalistic, educational, and business texts. Interpretation for business clients. Editing, proofreading, and translation project management. Translation theory and translation/interpreting pedagogy.

McGowan Building 208

Contemporary Russian politics, Russian politics in Central Asia, Russian culture and society, Siberia, Russians in Japan.