More About the Russian Program

The Russian Studies program at the College of Charleston was originated in 1999 as the result of the energy and enthusiasm of Ms. Raisa Gomer, faculty in the School of Languages, Cultures, and World Affairs, and Dr. Mikhail Agrest, native Russian and a faculty member in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. As the Iron Curtain fell, interest in the Russian region and its culture shifted. The Russian Studies program was originated to satisfy the needs of growing native Russian population and the new interests of the student body. Ms. Gomer and Dr. Agrest recall the beginning of the project:

It was a shame watching Russian children, saved from the disasters of the crashing Soviet Empire, brought to the God Blessed Land, losing their connection with their native culture instead of enriching the "melting pot" with their knowledge. It was also a shame watching American students working hard trying to learn the Russian Language disconnected from studies of a variety of cultural aspects including literature, history, politics, fine arts -- just everyday life. It was also much easier to teach Russian history, politics, literature and other culture related courses to students who are familiar with the language of the culture. We couldn't stand aside; we had to do something to help the situation.

The initiative to apply the key ideas of an interdisciplinary approach to teaching one of the "less popular languages" -- the Russian Language -- in an integrated manner with courses related to Russian culture offered by other departments and schools at the College of Charleston, was in consonance with the internationalization of the curriculum. This initiative was strongly supported by Dr. Frank Morris, then the chairman of one of the language departments, hosting Russian courses and endorsed by Dr. Sam Hines, then the Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences. The interdisciplinary Russian Studies program at the College of Charleston was officially established in 1999.

Why Study Russian?

The Russian Studies Program is a multidisciplinary course of study designed to consolidate all courses related to Russian civilization, culture, history, politics, economics, language, and other fields of human activity. This program will provide students with a structured knowledge of the subject. The goal of the program is to help students take advantage of the increasingly developing trend of American-Russian relations. These relations have specific importance for the Lowcountry: the connection between Charleston and St. Petersburg dates back to the time of Lord Henry Middleton’s ambassadorial mission to St. Petersburg in the 1820s. It is receiving increased attention now as a relationship between two historical cultural centers as well as two trading ports. This program thus seeks to fulfill the increasing need for Americans to have an understanding of the Russian language and culture.