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by Dr. Anna Vassilieva

GIRS Year End Report
At a time when relations between Russia and the United States are at their worst, the Graduate Initiative in Russian Studies (GIRS) has identified new pathways for academic cooperation, knowledge-share and expert analysis between Institute graduate students and Russian scholars and experts.

At a time when relations between Russia and the United States are at their worst, the Graduate Initiative in Russian Studies (GIRS) has identified new pathways for academic cooperation, knowledge-share and expert analysis between MIIS graduate students and Russian scholars and experts. In its sixth year, GIRS was awarded a new grant of $940,000 from Carnegie Corporation of New York to continue the project for the next two years.

The project consists of five components: Visiting Experts Program, Translations of Levada Center Sociological Polls, the Monterey Summer Symposium on Russia, MIIS-MGIMO US-Russian Dialogue, and GIRS Sponsored Research/Internships. Here is the recap:

Visiting Experts Program: GIRS attracts leading experts on Russia-related issues to MIIS. In 2018, thirteen visiting experts presented lectures during the spring and fall semesters. Students engaged one-on-one, as well as in a classroom format, with journalists, politicians, and experts including the former President of Kyrgyzstan Roza Otunbaeva and Vladimir Pozner, the doyen of Russian journalism, among others.

Monterey Summer Symposium on Russia: In its second year, the MSSR 2018 recruited a cohort of 12 fellows, who represented the brightest young scholars of Russian affairs from leading American and European universities. The MSSR convened for seven-weeks of instruction and training over the summer months. The Symposium was taught by over thirty experts in Russian Studies and International Relations. MSSR fellows were granted unparalleled access to Russian experts, including diplomats, journalists, thought leaders, and scientists, to address cross-cutting issues, with the goal of fostering cultural understanding and improving prospects for US-Russia cooperation. View the summer Videos and Podcasts.

Awards for Travel and Research to Russia

  • Megan McCullough MAIPD ’20 presented her work on Ukrainian filmmaker Kira Muratova at the Kristeva Circle conference held last weekend at California State University, Northridge. The Kristeva Circle is an annual international, interdisciplinary conference that “supports research on or influenced by philosopher, psychoanalyst and novelist Julia Kristeva” (kristevacircle.org).
  • Jacob Dwyer MANPTS ’18 attended the Central Eurasian Studies Society Annual Conference, which took place from October 26 to October 28 at the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania. The conference brings together academics from all fields of study who share a passion in Central Eurasia, providing an opportunity for the community to come together and share their findings.
  • Natalia Artemenkova MANPTS ’19 and Veronika Bedenko MANPTS ’19 were sponsored by GIRS and CNS to participate in 2018 Model G20 Summit organized by the American University in Washington DC. From October 5 to October 7, Natalia and Veronika represented the delegation of the United Nations and were actively engaged in negotiations, advancing the interests of the United Nations while playing a role of a bridge-builder to foster dialogue between 19 nations and the European Union.
  • Lennox Atkinson and Annelise Plooster traveled to Moscow and Kazan, Russia, in September 2018 to research the current state of US-Russia private-sector and university-to-university cooperation and the effect on multitrack diplomacy. Their research focused US-Russia knowledge share and technology cooperation, which has overcome the barriers of sanctions enacted following the Crimean Crisis in 2014.
  • In Summer 2018, 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. 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.’
  • Lacie Neill MPA ’19 traveled to Russia on a GIRS funded trip to assist a youth diplomacy conference organized by Track II, an organization building partnerships through its Russian-American program. The conference, titled “Whom Do We Trust?” brought together Russian and American college students to discuss perception-building and the sources we rely on for information.
  • In Spring 2018, four MA students traveled to Vladivostok and Khabarovsk, where they conducted field research on regional developments in energy, migration, ecology, and international education and their impact on Russia’s relations with the neighboring countries of China, Japan, and Korea.

U.S.-Russian Dialogue:

GIRS hosted 6 Videoconferences with the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO). Students from a variety of backgrounds and degree programs participate in the dialogues. In 2018, the Dialogues addressed: “Challenges to Nonproliferation Regime: Iran”, Major Challenges to Nonproliferation regime: North Korea”, “Syria: Point of No Return?”, “US and Russian Nuclear Policies and the Crisis of Nonproliferation”.

Translation of Levada Center Polls: GIRS fellows and Translation and Interpretation degree students translated sociological polls conducted by Russia’s most trusted independent sociological center based in Russia. GIRS is populating Levada Center’s English language website. View polls translated in English by GIRS graduate assistants.