Russia Area Studies

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As relations between the United States and Russia continue to fray, Carnegie Corporation of New York announces three $1 million grants to strengthen the study of Russia at U.S. universities

Carnegie Corporation of New York is announcing the recipients of three $1 million grants to strengthen the study of Russia at U.S. universities. Through a competitive process, a jury of independent experts selected the following institutions: Columbia University, Indiana University, and the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

The grants, announced at the September Board of Trustees meeting, follow a Carnegie Corporation-commissioned assessment by the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES) of the state of Russian studies at U.S. universities. The report, The State of Russian Studies in the United States, concluded that while in many respects Russia-related graduate training and research remain strong in the United States, the study of Russia at U.S. universities has atrophied in recent years because of neglect and reduced federal funding.

The report identified several major causes for concern and specifically found that “Russian studies within the social sciences are facing a crisis: an unmistakable decline in interest and numbers, in terms of both graduate students and faculty.” The findings led Carnegie Corporation to issue an RFP to further its support of Russia expertise in the United States through institutional investment. The awarded grants aim to encourage the universities to build up Russia-relevant training, research, and outreach programs, and facilitate engagement with Russian academic communities and institutions.

The initiative is aligned with Carnegie Corporation’s long-standing commitment to advance the understanding of Russia in the United States. This commitment dates back to 1948 when the Corporation’s initial funding helped establish the Russian Research Center at Harvard University to promote the study of Russian history, language, literature, and culture. This initial grant was followed by others that contributed to the establishment of robust Soviet studies programs at U.S. universities and colleges during the Cold War period. carnegie.org

Carnegie Corporation’s attention to Russian area studies underscores the importance of Russia to the United States and signals the continued need to improve U.S. training and study on Russia, so as to expand the ranks and deepen the expertise of relevant scholars, analysts, and practitioners.

“Carnegie Corporation of New York was among the very first foundations to recognize the value of area studies in the United States, particularly the study of countries and regions of importance to U.S. foreign policy,” said Vartan Gregorian, President of Carnegie Corporation of New York. “The Soviet Union and then Russia have been a primary concern for the Corporation, which has made a number of significant grants throughout our 100-year history that aim to promote better understanding of political, economic, cultural, and social developments in general—and of those developments in Russia in particular.”

“It is in this spirit,” Gregorian continued, “that the Corporation has launched this new initiative to strengthen the study of Russia at U.S. universities. Once a robust field, it has atrophied over years of neglect and underfunding. And yet, we see today that, as in the past, Russia remains an important player on the global stage. I hope that our initiative will contribute to providing high-level U.S. expertise on Russia.”

About Carnegie Corporation of New York

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.