Columbia University in the City of New York

Mission of the Harriman Institute

The Harriman Institute at Columbia University is one of the world’s leading academic institutions for the study of Russia, Eurasia, and East Central Europe. Our mission is to serve our community at the university and beyond by supporting research, instruction, and dialogue, and by sponsoring vibrant and multidisciplinary events that bring together our extraordinary resources of faculty, students, and alumni. We are committed to training the next generation of regional specialists to play leadership roles in setting the academic and scholarly agenda, making policy and challenging accepted truths about how we study our rapidly changing world.

Primary Activities

Academic Programs

The Institute is home to the M.A. program in Regional Studies: Russia, Eurasia, and Eastern Europe, which provides an interdisciplinary study of the region to young scholars and mid-career professionals. The Institute also administers certificate programs open to students pursuing graduate-level degrees at Columbia University, and our regional specializations for students from the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA). We also house the undergraduate major in East Central European Regional Studies along with a BA/MA program.

Learn more >

Fellows and Visiting Scholars

The Institute serves as an intellectual home for postdoctoral and visiting scholars, policy experts, journalists, and other professionals from all parts of the world.

People at Harriman >

Library Resources

The library resources of Columbia University, together with the famed collection of the New York Public Library, offer Harriman researchers one of the richest concentrations of materials for Russian, Eurasian and East European studies in the world.

Visit the Bakhmeteff Archives >


The Institute publishes the biannual Harriman Magazine, weekly digital newsletters, and maintains a publications archive.

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Lectures and Conferences

The Institute sponsors public lectures and conferences. Special projects focus attention on research regions like East Central Europe, Ukraine, Balkans, Central Asia, and Russia. These activities are open to the policy community, the media, alumni, local educators, and the private sector.

See events calendar >


Research Programs

The Harriman Institute supports and furthers the research of its faculty and students through lectures, conferences, and regional programs; hosting postdoctoral fellows and visiting scholars; and finally, financial support of projects by Institute faculty and students through a variety of grants and fellowship awards. Fund your next project or trip through Harriman.

Info for undergrads > | Info for graduate students >


Executive Committee


Professor of Professional Practice in Music
Professor of Professional Practice in International and Public Affairs and Director of the Center on Global Energy Policy
Senior Lecturer in Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian; Co-Deputy Director of the East Central European Center
Claire Tow Professor of Political Science & Vice Provost for Research, Libraries and Academic Centers, Barnard College
Professor of History
Marshall D. Shulman Professor of Post-Soviet Foreign Policy
Senior Lecturer in Political Science; Director of the MARS-REERS Program; Director of the Program on U.S.-Russia Relations
Senior Lecturer in Czech
Director, Harriman Institute; Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures
Professor of Mathematics Education at Teachers College
Professor, Department of Slavic Languages
Russell and Bettina Knapp Associate Professor of American Jewish History; Co-Director, Institute for Israel and Jewish Studies
Professor of Political Science, Barnard College
Ira D. Wallach Professor of World Order Studies and Director of Columbia's Institute for Ideas and Imagination
Associate Professor of Polish Studies, Department of History
Professor, Department of Slavic Languages
Senior Lecturer in Hungarian, Department of Italian
Senior Lecturer in Ukrainian
Robert and Renee Belfer Professor of International Relations
Arthur Lehman Professor of Sociology; Director of Columbia's Center on Organizational Innovation
Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature

National Advisory Council


Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies
Financial Sector Strategies, Inc.
CEO Razom for Ukraine
Human Rights Watch
Director, Harriman Institute; Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures
Prombank Group and Petro Jacyk Education Foundation
National Committee on American Foreign Policy
Train Foundation and Special Needs Advisors, LLC
Centre for Liberal Strategies (Sofia, Bulgaria) and Institute for Human Sciences (IWM Vienna, Austria)
Stroika, Ink.
Banque Pictet & Cie
St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford
Clements Center for National Security at University of Texas
Ukrainian Studies Fund, Inc.
Adjunct Professor of International and Public Affairs
European Bank for Reconstruction and Development
Lawyer, Admitted to Practice in New York State

Harriman Institute Bylaws


Review the institute’s bylaws >>

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History of the Harriman Institute

The Harriman Institute, the first academic center in the United States devoted to the interdisciplinary study of Russia and the Soviet Union, was founded in 1946, with the support of the Rockefeller Foundation, as the Russian Institute. The goals of the new regional institute, as stated in the proposal to the Rockefeller Foundation, were viewed to be twofold: “First, the direct advancement of knowledge in the Russian field through the coordinated research work of faculty and students; and secondly, the training of these students… as American specialists who will subsequently do work of authority and influence in the Russian field.” Although the Institute’s geographical purview has grown to encompass all the states of the former Soviet Union and the post-socialist states, the Institute has remained true to its overall objectives of teaching and research.

In 1982, the Russian Institute became the W. Averell Harriman Institute for the Advanced Study of the Soviet Union, in recognition both of Governor Harriman’s generous endowment of the Institute and his lifetime of distinguished service. As Governor Harriman stated in the announcement of the establishment of the Harriman Institute: “My objective is very clear: I want to stimulate and encourage the advanced study of Soviet affairs. To base policy on ignorance and illusion is very dangerous. Policy should be based on knowledge and understanding.”

In 1992, following the collapse of the USSR, the Institute officially expanded its focus to encompass all the states of the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe and adopted the name of the Harriman Institute. In 1997, the Harriman and East Central European Institutes united to promote comparative scholarly knowledge and public understanding of the complex and changing polities, economies, societies, and cultures of the area between Germany and the Pacific Ocean. In 2017, the East Central European Center was officially integrated into the Harriman Institute and is now governed by two co-directors.

Throughout the years our faculty and alumni have made important contributions to academia, and have also played leading roles in public policy, law, diplomacy, business, and the arts. Notable among them are former head of the National Security Council, Zbigniew Brzezinski; former Special Advisor to the Secretary of State, Marshall Shulman; former Ambassador to Russia, Jack Matlock; former Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright.

The Institute currently houses a diverse multi-disciplinary faculty from Columbia’s School of Arts and Sciences; Barnard College; the Schools of International and Public Affairs, Business, Law, and the Arts; Teacher’s College; and the Union and Jewish Theological Seminaries. We support teaching, research, and public events that bring together our extraordinary faculty, students, and alumni. From “brown bag” lectures, book presentations, art exhibitions and film screenings, to scholarly panels and conferences, the Institute provides a constantly evolving forum for intellectual discussion and innovation.

In addition to offering undergraduate and graduate courses, the Institute administers an MA program in Russian, Eurasian, and East European Studies, which admits approximately 10 students per year. We are committed to training the next generation of regional specialists, who will continue to shape policy, fill leading academic positions, and challenge the accepted truths about how we study our rapidly changing world.

Learn more Harriman history in our 60th Anniversary book.