With “Young Scholar Week” scheduled to start Nov. 25, Russia Direct previews some of the ideas and topics from the recently concluded Student Essay Competition that attracted the attention of the RD editorial team.

U.S. and Russian young researchers are going to reshape Moscow-Washington agenda. Photo: ITAR-TASS

Russia Direct is pleased to announce the winner of our inaugural student essay competition: Graham Westbrook, an undergraduate student at Mercyhurst University in the U.S. His winning entry on health diplomacy will be published on the Russia Direct site on Nov. 25 along with a debate with RD experts.

“Russian and American news reports both recently described U.S.-Russian bilateral relations as stagnating and suggested that they were perhaps at their lowest point in Obama’s presidency,” writes Westbrook in his essay. “Underreported, however, is the latent potential of non-politically-charged public health cooperation between the two countries. Nascent U.S.-Russian cooperation on health initiatives has made tangible strides in eradicating disease and producing vaccines. As U.S.-Russian relations bristle under political stalemate, bilateral health diplomacy has the ability to transcend politics and establish common ground.”

Graham WestbrookU.S.-Russia health diplomacy is not the only issue underrepresented by the media, according to students. They believe that media should pay much more attention to the Arctic, U.S. and Russian interests in Mongolia and business innovation, with a focus on what each of these topics imply for the future of Russian-American collaboration.

“Through increased economic aid and assistance and military cooperation, the United States has helped Mongolia to strengthen its borders and become a stronger partner in pressing international security issues,” writes one of the four finalists, MGIMO’s Blake Holley, in his essay. “To this end, Russia gets a stronger neighbor that shares many security concerns as well a buffer against China with minimal effort on the part of the Kremlin without losing any military or diplomatic cooperation capacity. Given the importance of the region and Russia’s overarching security concerns regarding human trafficking, drugs, terrorism, illegal immigration, and as well as a host of other threats, this is hardly an opportunity the Kremlin can afford to lose.”

Two other two finalists – Florida International University’s Michael McCormack and MGIMO’s Ivan Yuferov – shift their focus to the growing rivalry in the Arctic.

“In order to prevent potential rivalry from developing in the Arctic region, the United States and Russia must take an active role in continuing to build positive cooperation through such institutions as the Arctic Council,” McCormack writes in his essay. “Multinational efforts in responding to Arctic climate change in recent years – as well as structures being created for the near future – have given reason to hope that this is an issue where the two sides can build lasting cooperation.” 

Yuferov echoes his view: “In the years to come, decisions made by Arctic powers, in particular the Russian Federation and the United States, will profoundly shape the future of the region for decades.” 

Alec Albright from the University of Minnesota, another finalist, discusses business innovation and its implications for U.S.-Russia relations.

Video by Pavel Inzhelevsky

“Today too much potential remains untapped for Russian and American tech companies not to reshape the way they approach developing the Russian market,” he wrote in the essay. “Further, Washington and Moscow must understand that amending their respective technology initiatives vis-à-vis one another will produce mutual benefits which encompass more than financial gains.” 

On Nov. 25, Russia Direct is going to start “Young Scholars Week.” During the week, we will be publishing the essays of the winner and four finalists.