Slavic, Eurasian & East European Studies

Contact: Robert A. Rothstein, Director
Office: 741 Herter Hall
Phone: (413) 545-2052
Courses »

The Field

The program in Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies offers an interdisciplinary approach to the study of a large and important portion of the world: Russia, Eastern Europe and Eurasia.

The historic events that have occurred in the region since the 1980s and continue today make it crucial that Americans remain informed about all aspects of life in the region. The rapid change and increased contacts with people in the region impel us to continue to work harmoniously with these countries and communicate with the inhabitants of the region in their languages rather than ours.

The program regularly offers Russian and Polish language instruction.  Russian is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world, spoken by over 143 million people in the region, and it has been recently designated by the Department of State as a critical language, indicating its continuing importance to international relations, business and development work.  It provides access to one of the world’s major literature traditions and to vast amounts of professional literature in all fields. Polish is a key to the cultural riches of a country that is part of the heritage of many Americans and which plays a very important role in world events. 

Students in the program can elect to major or minor in Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies (REEES). Public lectures and other events augment formal study. The W.E.B. Du Bois Library has an extensive collection of books, journals, digital media and microforms dealing with the region.  Graduates with a REEES major have gone on to careers in diplomacy, government service, Peace Corps, development and non-government work, business, policy research and translation.

The program is guided by an interdepartmental committee whose members are Robert A. Rothstein (Comparative Literature and Judaic Studies), director; Audrey L. Altstadt (History); Evgeny Dengub (Languages, Literatures and Cultures and Five Colleges); Julie Hemment (Anthropology); Lauren A. McCarthy (Political Science and Legal Studies) and Régine A. Spector (Political Science).

The Major

Changes in the requirements for the major and minor have been proposed and are awaiting approval.

The major in Russian and East European Studies has a basic set of language requirements, and options in literature and culture or area studies.

I. Pre-major preparation (16 credits)
RUSSIAN 110 and 120, Elementary Russian I and II, or equivalent 
RUSSIAN 230 and 240, Intermediate Russian I and II, or equivalent


POLISH 110 and 120, Elementary Polish I and II, or equivalent 
POLISH 230 and 240, Intermediate Polish I and II, or equivalent

II. Advanced Language Core (6 credits)
RUSSIAN 301 and 302, Advanced Russian I and II, or equivalent


Two semesters of Advanced Polish, available as independent studies, or equivalent

III. Completion of track option (30 credits)
A. Literature and Culture
Ten courses, of which a minimum of four must be directly related to Russian Literature and/or culture. Of the remaining six courses, a maximum of three may be chosen from courses in such fields as Comparative Literature, English, or other literary disciplines, and a maximum of three may be chosen from courses dealing with the Russian and East European area in History, Political Science, or other social science disciplines (as noted below). Course selection should be made in consultation with the major adviser.

B. Area Studies
Ten courses dealing with the Russian and East European area in a minimum of three disciplines chosen from Anthropology, Economics, History, Political Science, Sociology, or Russian. Appropriate courses taught at the other four colleges or in an exchange program may also serve to meet this requirement. With the approval of the major adviser, a student pursuing this track may substitute equivalent work in a Slavic or East European language other than Russian for the pre-major and advanced language core requirements (I and II, above).

IV. Junior Year Writing Requirement and Integrative Experience Requirement


A minimum grade of C is required in courses used to satisfy the major requirements; no Pass/Fail option may be applied in such courses.

Career Opportunities

The Russian and East European Studies major can provide excellent preparation for careers in teaching, government service, journalism, business, and other fields. Students interested in pursuing graduate study related to the area would be well advised to combine the major with a minor in a relevant discipline, since most graduate programs are in single academic disciplines. It may be possible to take sufficient courses to fulfill the requirements of two majors, and graduate with a double major.

The Minor

The minor requires 18 credits in the Russian and East European area chosen from such courses as those specified in the Literature and Culture and Area Studies tracks, above. Courses in Russian or another Slavic or East European language at or beyond the intermediate level may also be included among the required 18 credits.