Graduate Initiative in Russian Studies, Middlebury Institute

The Graduate Initiative in Russian Studies (GIRS) at the Middlebury Institute for International Studies at Monterey (MIIS) provides extensive opportunities for students to become professionalized alongside leading experts on Russia and Eurasia. Professor Anna Vassilieva founded GIRS in 2013 to promote a more nuanced, comprehensive understanding of Russia for graduate students from both the United States and abroad. The initiative is comprised of five core components: its Visiting Experts Program, fully funded internship opportunities for students, Russian to English translations of public opinion polls conducted by Russia’s Levada Center, the US-Russian Dialogue Series, and the Monterey Summer Symposium on Russia (MSSR).

GIRS is non degree-granting program but offers opportunities for students who are enrolled in existing degree programs at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies (MIIS). Many GIRS students pursue M.A. degrees in Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies (NPTS), International Environmental Policy (IEP), or International Education Management (IEM). Students may also earn a Dual Degree in Nonproliferation Studies, as well as both the M.A. in Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies from the Middlebury Institute and the M.A. in International Affairs from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO).

In recent years, GIRS has been able to fully fund students for research and internship opportunities abroad, provide support for research at the Hoover Institution and the Cecil H. Green Library at Stanford, place students in the SURF (Stanford US-Russia Forum) program, and provide support for students to attend “Red Horizon: Force and Diplomacy in Eurasia,” a three-day simulation hosted by The Negotiation Task Force (NTF) at Harvard’s Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies. GIRS graduates move on to have prolific careers in diplomacy, the security sector, global policy and business, and translation and interpretation among other fields.

Part of the GIRS mission specifically focuses on training the next generation of US scholars on Russia and Eurasia through direct interaction with leading experts from the Russian Federation and other post-Soviet states in addition to western discourse. The Monterey Summer Symposium on Russia (MSSR) offers an opportunity for students to broaden the scope of their interests, research, and areas of expertise on Russia and Eurasia, while also participating in rigorous professional development training.

The fourth annual MSSR will take place June 22 through August 6, 2020, on the MIIS campus in Monterey, California. Carnegie Corporation of New York makes it possible for GIRS to provide travel, lodging, and tuition for twelve selected fellows. As part of an interdisciplinary, comprehensive curriculum, this summer’s program will feature modules on development in the following areas of expertise: media and video interviews, research methods, writing op-eds, memoranda, and book reviews, as well as negotiation methods and new tools training, among others.

Applications must be received no later than March 15, 2020. Advanced Russian language skills are required. The MSSR program can be found on the GIRS website, listed below, as well as more details on the application process. For further information, please contact GIRS Director, Professor Anna Vassilieva and GIRS Deputy Director, Dr. Kelly McGee.

MSSR Website:

How to Apply: