HWS Returning to Siberia – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

HWS Returning to Siberia

In days of the Cold War, getting “sent to Siberia” meant disappearing forever. Today, HWS professors are jumping at the chance to take students on a second trip to Siberia, in Russia, for a month-long, interdisciplinary seminar in which they’ll “get lost” in the complexity of the region.

Designed for students of Russian area studies, economics and environmental studies disciplines, the first trip took place in the summer of 2005. The seminar was originally developed to complement HWS’ interdisciplinary course, Russia and the Environment. The seminar begins in May 2009.

In 2005, the Colleges received $67,000 for the development of the seminar from the U.S. Department of Education, under the Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad program. Funding was secured with the assistance of Rep. Sherwood Boehlert and the project was directed by David Galloway, assistant professor of Russian Area Studies.

“The Russian area studies program at HWS is very proactive in providing students with study abroad experiences and comprehensive language programs and I was happy to be able to help support this new endeavor,” said Boehlert at the time.

HWS have once again received Fulbright-Hays funding, this time $84,997, for the program. This represents roughly 58 percent of the total costs of the program costs. $60,961 (as in-kind and matching funds) of the total costs will be financed by non-governmental sources.

“Students will study the Russian language and culture, ecology and environmental activism, and issues relating to indigenous peoples of the Baikal region,” says Kristen Welsh, assistant professor, Russian Area Studies Program. She and Meghan Brown, assistant professor of biology, are co-directors of the project.

“This will be most beneficial to students who plan teaching careers, or are majoring in Russian Area Studies, environmental science, or anthropology, but students from virtually any field taught at HWS can benefit as well.”

Half of the seminar, titled Modern Siberia: Ecology and Culture, will be in the city of Irkutsk, located in Siberia near Lake Baikal, where the intensive language study will take place, along with introductions to cultural and environmental topics pertinent to the region. The rest of the program will take place in more remote locations, where students will conduct studies relating to ecotourism, environmental health, and K-12 education. The seminar affords students the opportunity to see a part of Russia which is much less visited but that has tremendous importance in all of these areas.

The Colleges offer both a disciplinary and interdisciplinary track for both Russian area studies majors and minors with courses in language, humanities, social sciences and contextual areas such as economics, history, political science and sociology.

Students who are currently first-years, sophomores, or juniors, with at least a 2.5 GPA at the Colleges, are eligible to apply, as are current seniors who will be enrolled in the Colleges’ MAT program next year. The grant will cover almost all expenses for participants.

An information session for interested students will be held at 6 p.m. on Monday, April 14 in the Geneva Room. Applications will be due on May 9, and students will be notified over the summer of their status.