From the Director

Welcome to the Fall 2020 semester at the Harriman Institute! 

All of our lives have been disrupted by the onset of COVID-19. Please let me extend my sincere best wishes to you and your families and the hope that we all remain healthy and safe. Needless to say, this upcoming academic year brings a whole host of challenges. However, I’m excited that we have a robust and stimulating academic experience planned for our community. The hybrid model of in-person and virtual learning is certainly different from anything we have previously embarked on as an academic institution, but I’m eager to explore this uncharted territory with you. 

Using new tools and technologies, our virtual world broadens our community beyond geographic location. We are actively rethinking and adapting to this time. Students will not only have the opportunity to tap into the Harriman Institute’s extensive global network of alumni, friends, and like-minded institutions, but also to explore resources and events that would have been unavailable to us had we been limited to on-campus events.

We have a vibrant calendar this semester—three virtual film series devoted to East Central European, Russian, and Ukrainian film; a breadth of events focusing on contemporary Russian culture; webinars on the protests in Belarus and the upcoming election in Georgia; and much more. We will also host a series of student-centered lectures, alumni networking opportunities, and student-professor roundtables that will give students and faculty the opportunity to get to know each other in new and unique ways. 

We are proud to welcome 14 new MARS-REERS students this year—one of our largest incoming cohorts! We are also excited to welcome Svetlana Borodina, our new postdoctoral research scholar who is focusing on the politics of disability and inclusion in Russia. Our community is stronger than ever and we will do everything we can to nourish and sustain it.

In other news, I’m thrilled to announce that we have restructured the curriculum for our core course, “Legacies of Empire and the Soviet Union.” The course is now more innovative and intensive with an eye for connecting and challenging students in a virtual environment. I am excited that it will feature 20 different leading guest speakers and experts in what is an unprecedented survey of the state of Russian and Eurasian regional studies, all conducted in an intensive and moderated format.

Though we would all prefer to be on campus together in person this semester, the virtual environment has forced us to get creative about the learning process in ways that can only enhance and improve our experience for years to come. I hope that this semester will show that our community remains strong, close and supportive, no matter where we happen to physically sit.  I look forward to seeing everyone and getting to know our newest additions to the Harriman family at our many webinars and virtual meet-and-greets! 

Stay safe, stay engaged with us, and don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or ideas.

All the best,

Alexander Cooley

Director, Harriman Institute