From June 15th through July 24th, the Middlebury Institute brought together 13 distinguished fellows with 46 leading experts in US-Russia relations for the fourth annual Monterey Summer Symposium on Russia (MSSR).
The 2020 cohort of MSSR fellows included graduate students from the University of Oxford, Georgetown University, Stanford University, Sciences Po/MGIMO, and the University of Texas at Austin, as well as a diplomat, a member of parliament and a parliamentary researcher. The fellows came from various countries around the world, including Armenia, Germany, Japan, Kazakhstan, Russia, the U.K. and the U.S. Students and instructors of the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center Defense Threat Reduction Agency program (DLIFLC-DTRA), Foreign Area Officers at NPS, and MSSR alumni also attended select lectures. Forty-six experts from ten countries provided online instruction during the six-week interdisciplinary program. The curriculum consisted of specialized training, workshops, and lectures, many of which were taught in Russian.
“The symposium was a stimulating journey, a well-rounded and in-depth training program, and a unique opportunity to explore Russia-U.S. relations from different angles,” wrote one of the fellows. “Not only did I consolidate my knowledge on the determinants, history and current state of play of Russia-West relations, but I also acquired solid skills in podcast editing, memo writing and negotiations.”
Nuclear physicists, journalists, diplomats and economists from various countries, including Russia, Belgium, China, and Turkey, taught at the symposium this summer. During the first week, fellows learned the art of podcast storytelling and production with Professor Sean Guillory, host of the popular SRB podcast. The workshop culminated with individual audio projects on themes ranging from Cold War space cooperation to Moscow’s recent trash protests. This podcast series will soon be posted on the GIRS page of the MIIS website.
The 2020 Monterey Symposium cohort also took part in a three-day Harvard negotiation bootcamp, a television interview workshop led by Matthew Rojansky of the Kennan Institute and Jill Dougherty of CNN and a multi-day memo writing exercise with U.S. diplomats Jake Sullivan, Jon Finer, Ambassador John Tefft, and Professor Michael Kimmage. The fellows discussed Russian public opinion with the head of Russia’s only independent polling organization, Levada Center’s Dr. Lev Gudkov, and heard Academician Roald Sagdeev’s personal stories of cold fusion breakthroughs when he worked alongside Andrei Sakharov at the Kurchatov Institute in Moscow. Though the MSSR 2020 fellows would have preferred to be in Monterey instead of at home on their laptops, conducting the symposium online exposed them to a wider variety of views and more experts than otherwise would have been the case.
The Monterey Summer Symposium on Russia is made possible by the generous support of Carnegie Corporation of New York.
Next-generation Russia experts gained invaluable training at an eight-week summer symposium offered by the Middlebury Institute’s Graduate Initiative in Russian Studies, with support from Carnegie Corporation of New York.
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.