Language and Culture in Global Russia

Though its implications have been debated for centuries, Russia’s geographic span of the Eurasian continent has contributed to the formation of a rich blend of cultural influences unique in the modern world. Visitors to “Russia” who speak “Russian” quickly discover that both terms share plural meanings: from Lipetsk to Ulan-Ude, from Petrozavodsk to Krasnodar, people(s) of different heritages who call themselves Russian both share a common sense of national identity and take pride in regional and ethnic difference within the nation.

On the Global Russia program, students devote half of their academic hours to language study: if they agree on nothing else, the citizens of the Russian Federation take pride in the language they have either inherited or acquired. And through their knowledge of Russian students on the program will enter conversations with people of enormously various backgrounds. At the same time, through readings, discussion, and travel, students will explore the tensions that underlie cultural national unity, issues that are central to Russia’s participation in global culture today and in the future.

“Moscow” evokes many images: of minarets and multifaceted onion domes, concentric circles of elaborate mansions, narrow lanes and wide avenues, theaters, museums, art galleries, parks, and in the world of fashion, a sense of style unmatches in high (or low) couture. As residents in the main building of Lomonosov Moscow State University and students in the Philological Faculty, students on the program will find themselves immersed in this world from day one.

On excursions, participants will pair with Russian students to explore corners of the city often unknown even to Muscovites. On field trips beyond the city—to the ancient cities of Vladimir, Suzdal’, or Kazan’ and, later, to St. Petersburg—students will explore firsthand the influences that contributed to Russia’s emergence as a world power. And, towards the program’s end, on our ten-day venture towards the backlands of Lake Baikal in Buryatia, students will use their Russian-language and cultural skills to investigate Russia’s Mongol heritage as well as its global future as embodied by Lake Baikal itself.