Given the growing confrontation between Russia and the West and the relatively recent re-emergence of Russia as a leading player on the global stage, one would expect that Russian Studies programs within the United States would also be seeing a return to prominence. However, in many cases, the field of Russian Studies in the U.S. is still hobbled by funding difficulties, questions about how to restructure these programs for the new global reality, and a continued lack of demand for Russian expertise within the U.S. foreign policy establishment. 

Building on Russia Direct’s 2015 ranking of U.S. Russian Studies programs, we have returned in 2016 with a big picture look at how the field of Russian Studies within the United States continues to evolve. The report includes an overview of both quantitative and qualitative data from the Association for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES) research, interviews with Russian Studies graduates, an overview of U.S.-Russian bilateral exchange programs, and an update on the current issues and dilemmas facing Russian Studies programs from the perspective of current academics and practitioners. 

The report wraps up with a review of the core needs of any Russian Studies program going forward and provides suggestions for how America’s top Russian Studies programs can maintain their relevance in a shifting geopolitical situation. Just as the Cold War led to a remarkable upsurge in interest about the then Soviet Union, it can be expected that the current crisis in U.S.-Russia relations will also begin to attract a new generation of students and academics interested in learning more about Russia.

The authors of our report are Andrei P. Tsygankov of San Francisco State University and Victoria I. Zhuravleva of the Russian State University for the Humanities in Moscow. The issue also features a short Q&A with Nina Tumarkin, director of the Russian Area Studies Program at Wellesley College.

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