GIRS combines elements of a traditional Russian language program with unprecedented opportunities to learn from and collaborate with experts and scholars from Russia, to engage in hands-on scholarship using primary sources, and to develop language skills within the context of students’ broader academic interests.
The future of U.S. – Russian relations depends to a great extent upon mutual understanding of each other’s concerns and priorities. It is imperative that the next generation of U.S. specialists on Russia and Eurasia learn not only from Western discourse but directly from leading experts on Russia and Eurasia from the Russian Federation and other post-Soviet states. The Graduate Initiative in Russian Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies represents an important step in providing this educational opportunity.
GIRS offers learning opportunities for students who are enrolled in existing degree programs at the Middlebury Institute. Many students with advanced Russian language skills pursue master’s degrees in Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies, Development Practice and Policy, or International Education Management, but GIRS is compatible with any degree program at the Institute.
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Dr. Anna Vassilieva founded GIRS in 2013 as a way to promote a more nuanced, clear-eyed, and comprehensive understanding of Russia for young American and graduate students from other countries. GIRS continues to evolve, but its mission continues with modest assistance from graduate students at the Middlebury Institute.
is involved in several research projects with the Graduate Program on Russian Studies. He lived and worked in Moscow from 1995 to 2015, including seven years leading the Russian operations of an American S&P500 company that employed 550 Russians from around the country. From 2012 - 2015 he chaired the Russian National Council of the Urban Land Institute, working closely with the Sobyanin administration on the Moscow Urban Forum. He created the Russian-English dictionary of real estate concepts (www.stanaforddata.ru).
He attended MIIS from 1993-5, focusing on non-proliferation studies and spending six months at the UN Centre for Disarmament Affairs in New York, including working on the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference. He was a visiting researcher at the Institute of World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO) in Moscow. He graduated from West Point and served as a scout platoon leader in Desert Shield & Storm.
is a MA candidate in International Policy and Development at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. She received her BA from Stetson University in International Studies and Russian Studies, and has lived in Russia three times; the first time in Tver in order to study Russian, the second in Moscow as an English teacher, and most recently in Vladivostok in order to study migration. In addition to her experience in Russia, she spent two years with the Peace Corps in Morocco working in youth development.
is an MA candidate in Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. Emily is also a Graduate Research Assistant at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS). Prior to MIIS, she was an assistant at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a political and defense research think tank. Her interests include a wide range of WMD-related issues. Emily holds a BA in Peace, War & Defense and a minor in Biology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
is a MA Candidate in Translation and Interpretation (Russian/English). Her undergraduate studies were focused on Russian and Chinese language, and concluded with an honors thesis on the USSR and PRC's use of language as a means of state building. She has spent extensive time studying abroad in Russia, Kyrgyzstan, and China. In addition to her studies, Rachel works as a volunteer translator at Kiva.
is a dual MA candidate in Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies and Moscow State Institute of International Relations. Prior to MIIS, Plooster served as an appointee in the Obama Administration from 2013-2017. As Special Assistant to the Deputy Secretary at the U.S. Department of Energy she traveled to 17 countries to advance climate and nuclear security agreements. She also supported the completion of the Megatons to Megawatts Program, a 20-year agreement between the U.S. Government and the Russian Federation that relied upon commercial market-based solutions to advance the goals of nuclear nonproliferation. In 2009, Plooster committed a year of service with AmeriCorps VISTA. She holds a BA in Political Science and a BA in International Studies from the University of Iowa.