Carnegie awards $1 million to Indiana University to strengthen Russian studies

  • Oct. 11, 2016


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Carnegie Corporation of New York has awarded Indiana University’s Russian and East European Institute $1 million to create a Russian Studies Workshop and bolster Russian studies at IU. 

With the grant, the Russian and East European Institute will expand its work as an incubator for collaborative research and as a training center on contemporary Russian politics and society.

The new workshop will build upon and amplify IU’s historic strength in the study of Russia. Based in the Russian and East European Institute at the IU School of Global and International Studies, the Russian Studies Workshop will reach across IU schools and departments and involve scholars in Russia to spark research and thinking to address challenges that have emerged since the end of the Soviet Union.

“The Russian and East European Institute epitomizes the rigorous cross-cultural scholarship that has been a historic strength of the Bloomington campus since at least as far back as the tenure of Herman B Wells,” said IU Bloomington Provost and Executive Vice President Lauren Robel. “The new Russian Studies Workshop is a welcome addition to this tradition, and we look forward to the many opportunities the workshop will afford our students and faculty.”

“With Carnegie’s generous award, we can take advantage of technological advances and opportunities to work with Russian scholars,” added Regina Smyth, project director and IU associate professor of political science in the IU College of Arts and Sciences. “This active and sustained collaboration among teams of faculty and students at all levels will create new, innovative thinking that will enhance faculty research and enrich the training of the next generation of scholars focused on Russian regional studies and U.S- Russian relations.”

The grant from Carnegie came after a report by the Association for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies concluded that Russia-related graduate training and research at U.S. universities as a whole had declined in recent years because of less emphasis on college campuses and reduced federal funding. Sensing a renewed need for Russian studies emphasis because of fraying U.S.-Russia relations, Carnegie opened the competitive grant process to around 20 universities.

“We are delighted at the opportunities provided by the Carnegie grant to revitalize Russian studies at Indiana University and to strengthen research and training collaborations with colleagues at Russian universities,” said Sarah Phillips, director of the Russian and East European Institute and professor of anthropology at IU. “Particularly exciting are the fellowship opportunities we can offer to graduate students studying Russia, including fellowships for intensive language study of Russian, and research, training and travel fellowships for students.”

IU is one of three U.S. institutions to earn the Carnegie Corporation of New York grant designed to encourage building up Russia-relevant training and research, as well as facilitating engagement with Russian academicians and institutions. Columbia University and the University of Wisconsin also earned $1 million grants.

“This grant will address the need to encourage exchanges between American and Russian scholars at a time when this has become increasingly difficult,” said Lee Feinstein, founding dean of the IU School of Global and International Studies. “We are very honored to be one of the three institutions chosen for this award.”

The new workshop will be a multifaceted hub of knowledge production on contemporary Russia. Modeled on the renowned Ostrom Workshop, a cooperative research approach developed by the late Nobel Prize-winning IU professor Elinor Ostrom, the Russian Studies Workshop will be a forum for students and faculty in Russia and the U.S. to share work in progress, solve research problems, exchange resources and contacts, and teach innovative area-focused methods.

The grant will allow the institute to expand its Russian scholarship through a new faculty position, a political scientist who will bring policy-relevant research on Russian international politics, trade and security issues to campus. The institute will also add two postdoctoral fellowships in Russian politics and society.

In their proposal to Carnegie, Smyth and Phillips outlined a plan to build transnational networks among IU, U.S., European and Russian scholars enhancing IU’s capacity to take a leading role in social science research on Russia.

The plan is based on the idea that knowledge in the 21st century is interactive and collaborative and must emerge and be embedded in conversations between specialists from around the world and at all levels of professional development. The program they have developed will extend those conversations across existing boundaries between business, government and non-governmental organizations in Russia and in the United States.

The Russian and East European Institute was established under then-IU President Herman B Wells in 1958 as the leading center for language training and a hub for regional studies support on the campus. Today, the institute administers one of the nation's leading programs in Russian and East European area studies. It has been designated one of 16 U.S. Department of Education-funded Title VI National Resource/Foreign Language and Area Studies Centers for Russia and Eastern Europe for the 2014-17 grant period.

Carnegie Corporation of New York was established by Andrew Carnegie in 1911 to promote the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding. In keeping with this mandate, the corporation’s agenda focuses on the issues that Andrew Carnegie considered of paramount importance: international peace, the advancement of education and knowledge, and the strength of our democracy.

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