The program at Irkutsk State University (ISU) is coordinated through the International Institute of Economics and Linguistics. All Russian language courses at ISU are taught by instructors from the Institute, while subject courses are taught by instructors from other faculties and institutes of the university. All courses meet for four academic hours per week and include written and oral graded assignments.

During their first semester, students take four courses. For most, this consists of one core course and three electives. The core course, "The Russian Language," includes Russian grammar as well as Russian phonetics and/or speech practice (these may vary from semester to semester, depending on students' levels/needs).

The electives offered each semester vary depending on students' academic disciplines and interests, with the minimum number of students in each elective set at three.

Middlebury Courses

For the fall 2019 semester, the following courses are offered:

Russian Language (compulsory for all students)

Advanced Russian Grammar are intensive classes covering wide range of grammar nuances. The classes allow students to polish their grammar skills and work on their writing. Classes of different language proficiency are offered for the students.
Requirements: no unexcused absences, all the works submitted in a timely manner, active participation.

Speech practice taught once a week is focused on phonetics, accent and pronunciation improvement.

Cultural anthropology of East Siberia

This course is an in-depth study of peoples that inhabit the area surrounding Lake Baikal. Various natural, cultural and historical factors made it possible for different ethnic groups, religions and civilizations to cross here making the area a very unique case study. The course touches upon a wide range of topics from geopolitics to sociolinguistics and explores culture, religions and social structures of these peoples. Lectures with extensive use of visual aids will be supplemented by seminars and outdoor classes and excursions.

Classics of Russian Literature in Film

The course will explore 19th century Russian literature through the lens of Russian and foreign film. We will discuss how novels, key for understanding Russian culture, are interpreted in international cinema and approach literature analysis based on intermediality perspectives.

It should be noted that cinema, in comparison with literature, is a relatively new media and all of the film adoptions that we will discuss were made in the second half of the 20th or beginning of the 21st century. This brings up another interesting question - “modernization” of the Golden Age Russian literature. Close analysis of literature, films, and history and weekly discussions, supplemented by readings related to the novels discussed will contribute to students developing better communication and reading skills, as well as give them a deeper understanding of  the Russian mentality.

Environmental issues and NGOs of Baikal region

The course is led by representatives of an environmental educational NGO “Baikal Eco-Center”. In this course students will be introduced to some of the most burning environmental issues of the Baikal region and what it makes this area unique. Divided into two blocks, the course material covers topics from eutrophication of Lake Baikal to the history of non-profit sector. During the course, students will learn more about Russians’ attitude to volunteering and NGOs in general. They will have a chance to meet some of representatives of local NGOs as well. Apart from lectures and class discussions, students will have to take part in excursions and organize their own community event at the center. Since 2018, the course has been part of the Middlebury College’s Global Partnerships for Sustainability initiative. GPS’s mission is to create opportunities for students to leave a sustainability legacy to the countries where they study. Through involvement in GPS students gain significantly greater understanding and proficiency in the language and culture and contribute to a more sustainable future for their host country.

Post-Soviet Russia

The course explores the development of Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union and helps students form a better understanding of how the Soviet times affected the current Russian identity and the sociopolitical situation. Chronologically, the course begins with thorough analysis of the Soviet ideology and then moves on to the collapse of the Soviet Union and its causes. The course will finish with Putin’s presidency, touching upon controversial topics such as the influence of oligarchs on current politics and freedom of speech in Russia. By comparing the Russian perspective with the so-called Western perspective students will be able to get the whole picture of all the reforms and changes that Russia has undergone in the last 30 years. Through lectures and seminars students will learn to analyze historical events, lead discussions and make presentations in Russian on these topics.

Mainstream Courses

Students of advanced-level Russian may choose to pursue one or more classes in the regular departments of ISU, in place of any of the standard School in Russia courses. Among the факультеты и кафедры which might be of interest to American students are the following:

  • Biology and Soil Science: biochemistry, botany and genetics, microbiology, plant physiology and cell biology, soil science, zoology
  • Chemistry: analytical chemistry, general and nonorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, physical chemistry
  • Geography: cartography, economic geography, hydrology, meteorology, physical geography
  • Geology: general geology, geodynamics, geophysics, oil and gas, mineralogy
  • Mathematics and Economics: applied mathematics, economics, information systems, mathematical analysis, mathematical economics
  • Philology: Buryat folklore, language and literature, journalism, Russian folklore, language and literature
  • Psychology
  • Physics: experimental physics, general physics, microelectronics, radio electronics, theoretical physics
  • Social Sciences: cultural studies and social management, regional studies and social resources, social philosophy, history and politics

Other Sample Electives

The electives offered to students vary from semester to semester and are determined based on students' academic disciplines and interests for that specific term. Some examples of electives that have been offered in previous semesters, and may be offered in future semesters:

  • Russian Classical Literature
  • The Baikal Region in All Aspects
  • Political Discourse of Modern Russia AND Post-Soviet Russia
  • Political Discourse of Modern Russia description in English
  • Post-Soviet Russia description in English
  • Fantasy and Fiction Philosophy in Gogol's Prose
  • Description in English
  • Siberia in Modern International Relations
  • Description in English
  • Ecological Problems and NGOs of the Baikal Region

Focus on Lake Baikal

In collaboration with Baikal Interactive Ecological Center, Irkutsk State University, and Shelburne Farms in Vermont, the School in Russia offers students an opportunity in Irkutsk to do the following:

  • Learn about ecological issues and NGOs of Baikal region.
  • Gain empirical knowledge of the endemic flora and fauna of lake Baikal and the area around it by visiting Nationals parks and Preserves at lake Baikal.
  • Develop tools and methods to share expertise with local citizens, school children in particular, focusing on the importance of protecting and restoring nature for a sustainable future.

As part of Middlebury’s Global Partnerships for Sustainability program, students also take a course at the Baikal Interactive Ecological Center and work on projects in partnership with Russian students from Irkutsk State University.