| by Eva Gudbergsdottir

News Stories

Participants in the inaugural Monterey Summer Symposium on Russia with Graduate Initiative in Russian Studies Director Anna Vassilieva (center left) and lecturer Matthew Rojansky (center right), director of the Kennan Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington DC.

Developed by the Middlebury Institute’s Graduate Initiative in Russian Studies (GIRS) with support from Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Monterey Summer Symposium on Russia (MSSR) is a seven-week summer program that exposes top Russian area studies graduate students from across the United States and Europe, to leading voices on Russian-U.S. relations.

A cohort of 13 fellows completed the inaugural program on Friday, August 11, gaining deep and broad expertise in their field. Leading experts from Russia and the United States delivered lectures and led seminars on topics ranging from “The Concept of Honor in Russian History” and “The Russian Psyche Through Art and Cinema” to “U.S.-Russian Nonproliferation Cooperation.”

Another element of the symposium required participants to undertake a research project based on their interests and in consultation with their instructors. The students’ findings were presented at the end of the symposium.

Hanna Notte, a doctoral candidate from Germany at Oxford University, described the symposium as an “an immersive experience that I shared with like-minded peers who are all passionate about Russia and care about the Russia-West relationship, and want it to be better in the future.”

Admission to the program was very competitive and all successful candidates received tuition and housing scholarships as well as stipends for living expenses. As participant Joseph Haberman noted, “an opportunity likes this does not come often.” A recent graduate of Yale University, Haberman wrote his senior thesis on the Minsk Accords. Harrison King, who will be starting his PhD program in history at UC Berkeley this fall, said he “had too many favorites to count” among the guest speakers and activities. All of the fellows agreed that it was especially rewarding to spend time with lecturers outside the classroom and to get to know their cohort.

Several lectures were open to the public and lectures in Russian and English are available online.

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Jason Warburg

Eva Gudbergsdottir