Padma Desai Research/Internship Grants in Russia

Call for Proposals

These grants, supported by the Padma Desai Fund, are meant to support Middlebury undergraduate students who wish to conduct an internship or research in Russia as part of their Middlebury College experience. The Fund will provide for expenses related to the internship or independent research in Russia, such as transportation, lodging, and costs associated specifically with the internship or research project. Students awarded grants from the Fund will be known as Padma Desai Scholars and will be required to submit a report at the conclusion of the internship or independent research abroad.

In consultation with a Middlebury College faculty mentor, students should develop proposals for an internship or independent research to take place in Russia either during or immediately following study abroad in Russia. The grants are not meant to fund credit-bearing overseas research. Depending on the specifics of the proposed project, grants will range between $1000 and $2800. Students should specify the internship/research costs that will be funded by the grant. Where relevant, projects will also need to be reviewed by the College’s Institutional Review Board.

Faculty should indicate that they have agreed to work with a designated student who will be studying abroad.


March 31: *Deadline for proposals from students who will be studying in Russia during the current spring semester or the upcoming academic year and wish to conduct an internship or research in Russia during study abroad and/or immediately after.  *Deadline for a letter of support from the faculty member endorsing a student's proposal, including informaiton about their role in overseeing the research or internship.

October 17: *Deadline for proposals from students who will be studying in Russia during the current  academic year and wish to conduct an internship or research in Russia during study abroad or immediately after.  *Deadline for a letter of support from the faculty member endorsing a student's proposal, including informaiton about their role in overseeing the research or internship.

Students should submit proposals and faculty should submit letters of support to the Rohatyn Center for Global Affairs at

Contact Information:

If you have any questions please contact:

Charlotte Tate
Associate Director
Rohatyn Center for Global Affairs
Robert A. Jones '59 House 114
Middlebury College

Tel: 802-443-5795

Padma Desai Grant Recipients

Padma Desai Research Grant Recipients

Helene Gusman ’21, international and global studies - Russian and East European studies

"A Study of the Impact of Economic Upheavals on Women in Monotowns in Russia"

Toni Cross ’18, international and global studies

"A Tale of Two Ethnic Groups: The Legacies of Colonialism, Communism, Imperialism and Nationalism in the Construction of Moroccan Amazigh and Russian Volga Tatar Identities"

This presentation will argue that the impact of the four ideologies that led to the creation of minority identities in the Moroccan Protectorate and the USSR (Colonialism, Communism, Imperialism, and Nationalism) is extant today and still affecting intergroup dynamics within the Kingdom of Morocco and the Russian Federation. I’ve chosen to examine the years 1912-1956 in the Moroccan case and 1917-1933 in the Soviet case because they encompass pivotal moments in the history of both regions in terms of societal changes. 1917 is of course the year of the Russian Revolution and the 1930s were known as Stalin’s Great Retreat from some of the policies that had marked the previous decade. 1912 is the year the French first set up their protectorate in Morocco and 1956 is the year Morocco (re)gained its independence.  I will also present my findings on the current state of debates around identity especially as it is connected to language based on firsthand observations as well as primary sources such as newspapers and social media posts.

Matthew Floyd ’17.5, international politics and economics

"The Use of Georgian Domestic Hydropower to Offset Energy Dependence on Imported Russian Oil"

When discussing energy security, one cannot help but acknowledge Russia.  With control over a quarter of the world’s gas reserves, Russia is a vital source of fuel for most of Europe.  Wielding energy as a branch of foreign policy, no other country casts as large a shadow over the security of its customers.  Policymakers and scholars alike have spilt much ink in attempting to explain the motivations and consequences of Russian energy coercion, but little to no attention has been paid to the response of vulnerable consumer nations along Russia’s periphery, for whom the implications of precarious dependence on Russian energy exports have been no less severe.  For one particular field of thought, the way out of exploitation lies with deeper levels of interdependence.  The theory of interdependence championed by neoliberal international relations theorists supposes that mutual dependence reduces conflict by raising the costs for both sides.  For others, security can only be obtained through the pursuit of independence—or the satisfaction of domestic demand exclusively with domestic production.  This is a view that continues to be championed by policymakers around the globe.  Using the Republic of Georgia as a case study, this thesis establishes the possibility of a third option beyond interdependence or independence: a dogged pursuit of energy security, defined as the maximization of five specific metrics.  Highlighting the dangers of independence and interdependence that have faced Georgia in its recent history, this thesis shows that both pursuits may be at odds with energy security. 

Brenna Christensen ’17, international politics and economics

"Madness in Post-Soviet Spaces: How Politics, Policy, and People Shape Functionality in Russia and Estonia"

My project explores conceptions of “madness” among post-soviet generations in Russia and Estonia and the factors and consequences of such. Specifically, I aim to evaluate how different country conditions (political environments, cultural contexts, and healthcare frameworks) impact what constitutes “mad” or mentally ill. Furthermore, I examine the economic consequences of these different constructions, examining how different conceptions of madness shape the labor role of mad individuals. Having been awarded the Padma Desai Grant, I conducted interviews with 15 students, ages 18-25, in Moscow, Russia and Tartu, Estonia. In collaboration with disability and mad studies professor and expert, Dr. Susan Burch, I developed questions evaluating stigma and intergenerational views on madness. In collaboration with Dr. Tatiana Smorodinska, I then translated all interview questions to Russian. I administered interviews in Russian in Moscow and English in Tartu. I selected interviewees using Snowball sampling, through contacts in each country.