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 spring 2022 semester, the following courses are offered:

Russian Language (compulsory for all students)

Advanced Russian Grammar offers intensive classes covering a wide range of grammar nuances. The classes allow students to polish their grammar skills and work on their writing. Classes of different language proficiency levels are offered for the students.

Requirements: no unexcused absences, all work submitted in a timely manner, active participation.

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

Fantasy and Fiction Philosophy in Gogol’s Prose

This course provides a conversation on the prose of Russian classical author Nikolai Gogol within several aspects. Nikolai Gogol is famous as “the Russian Washington Irving” and as “the Russian Ernst Hoffman”, and repeatedly addresses a fantasy, a bright expression of the writer’s original world view. In addition, fantastic images in Gogol’s prose are a reflection of national perception and the Russian mentality. Consequently, independent students’ conclusions about Gogol’s works and other features of the Russian culture and national literature are possible as a result of reading literary texts, as well as a result of discussions and seminars.

Environmental issues and NGOs of the 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 makes this area unique. Divided into two blocks, the course material covers topics from eutrophication of Lake Baikal to the history of the non-profit sector. During the course, students will learn more about Russians’ attitude towards volunteering and NGOs in general. They will have a chance to meet 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 (GPS) 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.

Siberia in the context of Russian History  

This course provides an overview of Siberian history, geography, politics, and economics. Siberia, with its unique history, environment, and cultures faces unique problems, particularly as its economy transitions from one of state planning to a free market economy.  Historically Siberia has always played a controversial role in the overall socioeconomic development of the country, including the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union, as well as modern Russia. We will talk about the historic heritage of the region and focus on the status of the region in the national economy. 

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
  • Post-Soviet Russia
  • 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.