Scholarships are available for internships and/or research projects in Russia in the summer or fall. Funding covers round-trip travel, an accommodation allowance, and miscellaneous expenses. Only students with advanced Russian language skills will be considered.
- 2019: In Spring 2019, the Graduate Initiative in Russian Studies funded MIIS graduate students, Alexey Polyakov, Vladislav Chernavskikh, and Anastasia Bunina, to attend the 2019 Carnegie International Nuclear Policy Conference in Washington, D.C.
- 2018: Students will travel to Moscow in September 2018 to research the current state of US-Russia private-sector and university-to-university cooperation and the effect on multi-track diplomacy. The students will seek to identify successful areas of cooperation and will produce a written report of their findings in English and in Russian. They will also provide recommendations for future areas of student exchange between MIIS and MGIMO.
- 2017: Students interned at the nonproliferation-focused NGO, the PIR Center, and attended the 2017 Moscow Nonproliferation Conference organized by the Center for Energy and Security Studies.
- 2016: Students traveled to Moscow to engage in collaborative research projects on nonproliferation and nuclear terrorism issues, as well as to Abramtsevo to participate in a Russian-language intensive course on international security.
- 2015: Students spent time in Chechnya researching the role of women in contemporary Chechen society, in the Far East exploring carbon sinks in Russia’s forest reserves, and in Moscow undertaking peer-to-peer research collaboration on physical nuclear security.
During the Fall 2019 semester, I will embark on a two- to three-week long exchange in Russia to attend courses at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO University) and Moscow State Linguistic University (MGLU). The courses will cover a range of topics including translation, interpretation, and various content courses, all of which directly relate to my studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies. The TI curricula at these leading Russian institutions largely focus on translating and interpreting from English into Russian, and the opportunities for cooperation with Russian students and immersion into local academic life will prove to be a boon to my work, the work of my classmates, and the work of students at the Russian institutions.
I have several goals to be accomplished over the course of the trip. Given the diplomatic inclinations of the language professionals who graduate from MGIMO, I intend to make use of the courses that prepare students for careers in government agencies. This preparation encompasses terminology, best practices, and situational etiquette. Furthermore, being in a purely Russian-speaking environment with future language professionals will streamline my own language production efforts and result in more effective interpretations. MGLU, long renowned as one of the finest TI institutions in Russia, has sent students to study at MIIS in the past. Continuing this exchange will enrich the academic experiences of both MIIS students and MGLU students. I hope that my time there will further strengthen the already-established bedrock of cooperation between our institutions. Lastly, while I am clearly aware of the benefits I will receive, I can contribute to the education of my Russian colleagues by sharing the knowledge and skills I have acquired in Monterey.
To conclude the exchange, I plan to produce two main deliverables. The first is a collection of materials that I hope to accumulate while in Russia that will be of direct benefit to my classmates at MIIS in the Translation and Interpretation program. These would include books, articles, lecture notes, and other materials only accessible in Russia. The second is an article comparing TI education at Russian and American translator and interpreter training programs. Together, these materials and insights will expand our existing resources and enrich our studies.
On a broader note, these types of exchanges need to happen more often. The visiting experts of the Graduate Initiative in Russian Studies (GIRS) — including the well-known journalist, Vladimir Pozner, and the Ambassador of Russia to the United States, Anatoly Antonov — have, on numerous occasions, proclaimed their desire for more communication and exchanges between our two countries. Where better to start than broadening professional ties? It is precisely through such interactions that we will reach a more holistic understanding of one another.
Moreover, TI professionals serve as the “voices” heard by the other side during high-level diplomatic, economic, and political conversations. If we permit any slip-up or indiscretion in our rendering of the message being sent by our respective countries, the ensuing consequences could range from mild annoyance to large-scale catastrophe. I hope to do my part to strengthen these professional ties and improve communication within the TI profession. Ultimately, GIRS is striving to improve mutual understanding between Russia and the U.S., and I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to work in support of that goal.
Vladislav Chernavskikh is a student in the Dual Degree in Nonproliferation Studies program of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey (MIIS) and the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO). He received his BA in International Relations from the Ural Federal University where he also served as a research assistant at the Center for Research and Education in the field of security and nonproliferation. He is currently a graduate assistant at GIRS and a Graduate Research Assistant at the Institute’s Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS). Additionally, he is a NEREC (Nuclear Non-Proliferation Education & Research Center) KAIST (Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology) Summer Fellows Program 2017 alumnus. His research interests include strategic relations and the arms control process between Russia and the United States, the NPT Review mechanism, and the North Korean nuclear missile program.
Building upon my already established body of work on the post-Soviet films of Kira Muratova, my proposed research seeks to explore her films through the lens of post-Soviet trauma as a means of integrating my areas of specialization here at MIIS—both in Conflict Resolution and Russian language—with my previous work in Film Criticism. It is a multi-disciplined and multi-theoretical approach that brings together the disparate fields of Russian Area Studies, Film Studies, Political Science, Sociology, Psychoanalysis, Semiotics and Conflict Resolution in order to explore the role of art as both a means of reflecting, as well as healing, societal trauma.
My previous work has sought to situate Muratova’s films as cinematic texts resulting from, and responding to, a society in crisis: a crisis stemming from the failure of borders and limits (physical, social and psychological) precipitated by the collapse of the Soviet Union. As a space of transition and transgression, the immediate post-Soviet era can be understood as an historical period defined by the presence of the abject; for as Kristeva writes in The Powers of Horror, the abject is that which “disturbs identity, system, order. What does not respect
borders, positions, rules. The in-between, the ambiguous” (4). By saturating her films with the characteristically grotesque themes and images of abjection, Muratova’s work functions as a means of social criticism through the distortion and destabilization of everyday life. Her use of the grotesque can be understood as a tool for re-defining that which is considered taboo in a society in which the boundaries between public and private, nature and culture, human and non-human, and law and order have all but disappeared. Re-examining Muratova’s films of the immediate post-Soviet period nearly thirty years after the fall, allows them to push beyond the dismissive label of chernukha and to be understood as an artistic response to, what Vamik Volkan calls, a society’s chosen trauma—the trauma caused by the collapse of the Soviet Union.
I will be conducting archrival research both in Moscow, at The Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography (VGIK), and in Odessa, at the Odessa Film Studio. In addition, I will be conducting interviews with industry experts—including film historians and directors who worked in the immediate post-Soviet period. Films to be researched include, The Sentimental Policeman (1992
GIRS Research Assistant and second year MGIMO-MIIS Dual Degree NPTS Program graduate student Yury Medvedev was accepted to the Stanford US-Russia Forum, dedicated to bringing students at leading Russian and American universities together for research. During the academic year SURF delegates will conduct the Collaborative Research Project and meet twice during two conferences held in Russia and the United States. Conferences events include, inter alia, panel discussion, seminars with leading experts in policymaking, academia, and business, participants will go through a number of workshops, sharing their knowledge and experience. The capstone conference, held at Stanford University and Washington, D.C., gathers all the groups together to present their results to other delegates, professors, and professionals in the field.
My research will be focused on the ongoing trade negotiations between Russia and Georgia. Negotiations started in 2011 and have long been stalled because their primary purpose is a complicated one: the trade passes are supposed to cross the occupied territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. As the need for alternative trade passes between Georgia and Russia has significantly increased in recent years, both parties have renewed efforts this year to conclude the negotiations. There are several ambiguities linked to the technical details of these trade passes. The fact that Georgia and Russia have agreed to outsource trade monitoring across those territories to the Swiss company, Société Générale de Surveillance, does not eradicate the issue that Moscow and Tbilisi have very different ideas about where the customs points should be. This research will attempt to look at this issue through multiple lenses, including international trade law and a sociopolitical and economic cost-benefit analysis of these negotiations for countries in the Caucasus region.
This is a semester-long project that includes pre-departure research, on-site research in Russia and Georgia over the course of two weeks, and completion of a research paper after the trip. The research trip will include a number of interviews with faculty members from different universities, as well as think-tank representatives, independent researchers, and, hopefully, government officials.
My research has the ambitious aim of filling in the gap that currently exists in the academic literature about these negotiations. At this point, there is no comprehensive analysis of the possible scenarios, technical details, and repercussions of these negotiations in English, Russian, or Georgian. The deliverable will be a research paper in English, Georgian, and possibly in Russian, which I will seek to publish and present at conferences.
This Fall, I will be conducting research related to academic-level start up incubators and accelerators in Russia and the US, entities which I hypothesize facilitate innovation in both countries and support a move towards a global entrepreneurial network. With support from the Graduate Initiative in Russian Studies (GIRS), I will be able to further develop my ideas through in-person interviews as well as to learn more practically about this topic by visiting a nascent incubator at Vladivostok’s Far Eastern Federal University.
In the US, universities are often breeding grounds for new ideas and companies, where the use of cutting-edge technology, the rigor of thought and the fluidity of idea exchange contribute to the success of academia-sourced entrepreneurship. Successful international companies like VMWare have grown from university-level side-hustles to world-changing businesses; Google
sprouted from a graduate student’s PhD paper. My research trip next Fall to both Moscow and the Russian Far East will include interviews with a number of influential individuals and organizations, as well as visits to relevant incubators, accelerators, universities and tech parks.
This research is motivated by a speech given by Meir Brand, VP of Google, at the 2018 St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. In this speech, he discussed the importance of developing an innovation-based economy in Russia. In the past, countries considered natural resources to be their competitive advantage, but now there is a global shift towards building an innovation-based economy. In this new economy, the most important natural resource is human: talent and how one nurtures talent are important above all. Brand also argued that three things are crucial to create an innovation-based economy: (1) an adaptive educational system, (2) access to capital, and (3) the development of a culture of entrepreneurship and risk-taking.
While Russia has a strong educational system, entrepreneurship and risk-taking are learned by doing, and the classical Russian educational system often fails at this. Developing and engaging university incubators is a solution that incorporates education, practical experience, and access to funding. Entrepreneurs raised in such an environment are positioned to shape the future and we should devise ways to support them accordingly.
Incubators have become the institutional framework to assist the student population in their entrepreneurial endeavors. Given the vast amount of intellectual capital that can be unlocked, this is an area that deserves attention. Seeing how universities and global entrepreneurial networks can support this creativity will be key. Supported by GIRS, I will have a unique opportunity to delve deeply into how Russia can move in a new, more sustainable economic direction as well as possibly improve US-Russian business collaboration – something that is becoming increasingly important in today’s uncomfortable relationship.
Alexey Polyakov is a student in the Dual Degree in Nonproliferation Studies program at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey (MIIS) and the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO). Alexey works as Graduate Assistant for the Graduate Initiative in Russian Studies at the Institute. He is also a Research Assistant at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies where he contributes to the NTI/CNS Global Incidents and Trafficking Database.
Alexey interned at the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Department for Nonproliferation and Arms Control and gained experience in international marketing while working as Project Manager at Messe Frankfurt Rus.
Alexey’s interests include US-Russian strategic relations, nuclear nonproliferation, arms control, and nuclear security. Alexey holds a B.A. in International Relations from MGIMO and speaks Russian, English, Portuguese, and Spanish.
My research attempts to give a brief analysis on the afghan community residing in Moscow, Russia by performing a survey case study and ethnographic research. Specifically, I attempt to examine the effects of immigration, forced or voluntary, across generations of Afghans on their sense of culture or identity; examine the policies placed by the Russian Federation in an attempt to decipher the Russian New State Migration Policy and the understanding of a Diaspora via Sevastopol; and to determine any possible lessons or recommendations applicable across the many immigration crises erupting across the world, as war, economies and climate continue to drive massive human movement across borders. The paper tackles a multitude of complex issues that are ongoing and require more comprehensive research. The Afghan Diaspora in Russia is a unique case study into the life of a diverse and yet unified community. A community that has survived great hardship and continues to provide support and protection to one another, both documented and undocumented Afghans residing in Russia, and continues to aid those hoping to immigrate and integrate into society. This Study, through personal interviews and data analysis, helps shed some light on the main driving forces governments and states should consider when setting immigration policies, to lessen the social and economic burdens on host countries while still fulfill their moral obligations towards those seeking refuge.
Lennox Atkinson & Annelise Plooster
Moscow, US-Russian Cooperation
Lennox Atkinson (left) and Annelise Plooster will travel to Moscow in September to research the current state of US-Russia private-sector and university-to-university cooperation and the effect on multitrack diplomacy. Their research will focus on US-Russia knowledge share and technology cooperation, which has overcome the barriers of sanctions enacted following the Crimean Crisis in 2014.
Panayiotis Xenophontos, a DPhil student at the University of Oxford and MSSR 2018 fellow, spent two weeks in the summer of 2018 conducting research in the archives at the Hoover Institution and the Cecil H. Green Library at Stanford University. The main archives relating to Joseph Brodsky at Stanford are the Diana Myers and the Ramunas Katilius archives; both of these individuals were friends of the poet before and after his exile from the USSR in 1972. The intimate personal correspondences between Brodsky and his friends shed light on his own poetry and the socio-political environment he lived in. Pany's research at Stanford will form an integral part of his DPhil thesis on the topic of ‘Memory in the works of Joseph Brodsky.’
Moscow, Nonproliferation Issues
In the summer of 2017, Libiao undertook an internship at the PIR Center in Moscow. The focus of his internship was a scientific paper that he prepared and defended. The topic coincided with his scientific interests: Russian-Chinese cooperation on the DPRK’s nuclear program. The PIR Center gave him access to first-hand Russian academic resources and opinions from Russian experts. He also assisted with administrative work at the PIR Center, which helped him better understand the workflow of Russian scientific research center. Libiao was able to enhance his Russian language abilities by using it in daily life as well as in a professional context.
John Nunes participated in translation/ interpretation training at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO) by attending graduate-level classes and lectures in simultaneous & consecutive interpretation and written translation. John practiced with some of Russia’s most promising young interpreters, many of whom will go on to work at organizations like the United Nations, PACE, and OSCE. The advice, exercises, and experience will help John in his remaining time at MIIS and in his professional career.
Moscow, Russian NGOs
Katie Boynton traveled to Moscow to participate as one of only two Americans in the summer program of the Diplomatic Academy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation. She conducted research on the history of Russian NGOs, particularly those involved in psychiatric work, and learned how they fit in modern-day Russia. Katie learned how Russian NGOs work and are perceived all over the world, which led to a better understanding of how the organizations can be improved.
Julia Diamond and Sarah Bidgood
Abramtsevo, Nonproliferation Issues
Julia Diamond and fellow GIRS student Sarah Bidgood participated in a Nuclear Workshop co-organized by the Nuclear Risk Reduction Project (NRR) and the Stanford U.S.-Russia Forum (SURF) in collaboration with National Research Nuclear University (MEPhI). After working with their respective peer research groups, Julia and Sarah presented their projects at Stanford University. Julia also served as a participant in PIR Center’s International School on Global Security in Abramtsevo, Russia. She was the only American in the 2016 program.
Moscow, Nonproliferation Issues
Sarah Bidgood attended the PIR Center’s International School on Global Security for Young Specialists in Abramtsevo, Russia, where she was the only American of 24 participants. She then traveled to Moscow for the opening conference of the Stanford U.S.-Russia Forum (SURF), a program that facilitates collaborative research projects in critical areas between young experts from both countries. Sarah is serving in a working group that focuses on nuclear security issues. The conference provided the first opportunity for Sarah to meet her teammates in person. They will continue to research and develop their topic remotely over the next eight months and will present their findings at a capstone conference at Stanford University in the spring. Sarah’s participation in both the PIR Center International School on Global Security and the Stanford U.S.-Russia Forum were made possible in part by funding from the Institute’s Graduate Initiative in Russian Studies (GIRS).
Grozny, Chechen Studies
Kathryn Smart worked in Moscow as an English tutor for a Chechen family, became fluent in Russian and then decided to attend the Middlebury Institute's Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies program. She took the course, Islamism in Russia, in which she started researching Chechen female suicide bombers. This summer, Kathryn plans to study with the history department at Grozny State University to research a woman’s role in Chechen culture and Islam, with the goal to discover cultural and political influences on a woman’s decision to join militant groups in the North Caucasus.
Tankhoy, Environmental Issues
Meagan Braun spent the Summer of 2012 participating in the Tahoe-Baikal Institute’s Summer Environmental Exchange, where students compared development and conservation at Lake Tahoe and Lake Baikal. The team presented the resulting recommendations to the local planning agency and management team of the Baikalsky Zapovednik. This fall, Meagan will study Russia’s massive forest reserves and international funding for its use as a global carbon sink. While estimates vary, Russia’s forests absorb up to 1 billion tons of carbon annually. Russia could benefit by attracting international investment as well as conserving its natural heritage. Meagan will conduct research while in the Russian Far East on forest management, the ability to implement better management practices, and the feasibility of attracting foreign investment for conservation. Afterwards, she plans to recommend potential funding opportunities and best practices.