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Students in class.

Welcome! Добро пожаловать!

The Graduate Initiative in Russian Studies (GIRS) enables students with advanced Russian language skills to professionalize their interest in Russia and Eurasia. It provides experiential learning and international opportunities for students interested in careers in policymaking, NGOs, and global business.

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 Initiative comprises of five main components:

  1. The Visiting Experts program
  2. The Monterey Summer Symposium on Russia (MSSR)
  3. Fully funded internship opportunities
  4. Russian - English translations of public opinion polls conducted weekly by Russia’s Levada Center
  5. The U.S.-Russian Dialogue Series

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.

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 MIIS — meet the GIRS team.

Contact Us

The Graduate Initiative in Russian Studies is located at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. Our office is at 400 Pacific St. Monterey, CA, 93940. You can contact GIRS Director Anna Vassilieva at avassili@miis.edu or call at (831) 647-3546.

GIRS and MIIS Degree Programs

The Graduate Initiative in Russian Studies is not a degree-granting program. It offers learning opportunities for students who are enrolled in existing degree programs at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies (MIIS). Many MIIS students with advanced Russian language skills pursue MA degrees in Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies (NPTS), International Environmental Policy (IEP), or International Education Management (IEM), but GIRS is compatible with any degree-granting program at the Institute.

As of Fall 2016, students also have the opportunity to earn a Dual Degree in Nonproliferation Studies and earn both a Master’s in Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies from the Middlebury Institute and a Master’s in International Affairs from Moscow State Institute of International Relations.

To find out more about our degree programs and how GIRS intersects with them, complete an inquiry form, and an enrollment advisor will contact you.

Participating Organizations