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  • Locations: Saint Petersburg, Russia
  • Program Terms: Summer Break
  • Restrictions: Union applicants only
  • Dates / Deadlines
Program Description:

Program Description

“The Russian Empire: East and West” This mini-term focuses on Russia’s political past and present, as it examines the idea of empire as it applies to the Russian far east (Irkutsk) and her European west (Moscow and St. Petersburg). Students will analyze how factors such as geography, social demographics, ethnicity, religion, ideology and economics have shaped, and continue to shape, Russia’s political landscape.
Territorially the largest country in the world, Russia represents a tapestry of different ethnicities and cultures, whose conflict and cooperation formed its rich history. From the modest Buddhist temple in Arshan to the beautiful onion domes of Moscow's magnificent churches and the noble edifices of Saint Petersburg's museums and palaces, even the architecture attests to the variety of cultural influences in this vast imperial giant.

World Cup 2018

Students will have the opportunity to attend a World Cup game while we are in Russia. There are two games that will occur while we are there, one in Moscow, the other in St Petersburg. This is an optional event and not part of the official mini-term. Students interested in attending a game should let Professor Bidoshi know as soon as possible. 

Course of Study

Before departing for Russia, students complete assigned readings and attend pre-departure classes (there will be six classes the spring term), which give background on the history of Russia (and some survival Russian).
We then fly to Irkutsk, where we will experience the beauty and splendor of Lake Baikal, the deepest freshwater lake in the world. While there students will learn about environmental work being done in the area and participate in hands-on work with the Great Lake Baikal Trail, a local environmental NGO. We will also spend several days on Olkhon Island, in the middle of Lake Baikal, hike in the Sayan Mountains near the resort town of Arshan and visit sites sacred to the Buryati people, decedents of Genghis Khan, and Buddhist temples in the area.
Our next stop is Moscow, where we tour key sites associated with the reign of Ivan the Terrible and his successors (right up to and including the Communist period), examining seminal moments in Russia's centralization of authority and its transformation into a multi-ethnic state.
Proceeding to Saint Petersburg, students analyze the clash and synthesis of cultures (European and Russian), evidences of "enlightened despotism," and the beginning of revolutionary activity. Throughout, students are encouraged to make applications to Russia's current political situation.
Students will keep a journal detailing what they see and experience and how it applies to the mini-terms theme. From this, students will prepare a final paper and then have two options of how to share their findings with the Union community. They can either give a PowerPoint presentation or put together a "textbook" (text with pictures) on an aspect of the subject "Russia and Empire."


None. However, students are required to attend pre-departure classes to go on the trip.


Students will reside in youth hostels during their stay in Russia.


(For specific dates, contact the International Programs Office, Old Chapel, Third Floor.)
  • January: Application deadline is the third Friday of winter term.
  • February: Decision Letters in Mal Boxes, Friday of week five of winter term
  • February: Accepted students must select "commit" or "decline" at the International Programs online application site to confirm participation by Friday of week 7, winter term.

For More Information

Contact Professor Kristin Bidoshi.

Dates / Deadlines:
Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Summer Break 2020 09/27/2019 10/11/2019 TBA TBA