Russian and East European Studies
Department Chair:
Arlene Forman

Administrative Assistant:
Polly Bratton

Department Email:

Phone: (440) 775-8650
Fax: (440) 775-6355

Peters Hall 222
50 N. Professor St.
Oberlin, OH, 44074

Russian and East European Studies

Russian and East European Studies

Department Overview

If you are interested in Russia and Eastern Europe, especially the interconnections between Slavic art, history, literature, music, politics, and sociology, consider the Russian and East European Studies (REES) program.

You can pursue a minor or major in REES: both paths follow a multidisciplinary approach that incorporates Russian language and literature, history, sociology, and politics. Our courses in Russian and in English help you to develop strong speaking, linguistic, and critical thinking skills. Majors can pursue advanced, independent research through our honors program.

A major in Russian and East European studies often leads to graduate work in sociology, history, literature, politics, and related fields. Majors and minors typically choose careers in teaching, library science, government work, medicine, law, and international business, as well as with philanthropic or nonprofit organizations.  

OCREECAS (the Oberlin Center for Russian, East European and Central Asian Studies) also helps undergraduate and graduate students find internships in the fields of Russian history, culture, and contemporary issues. With connections to numerous nonprofits and nongovernmental organizations in both the US and Eastern Europe, OCREECAS funds fellowships to help students achieve their desired experience and work. Recent internships in the former Soviet Union have been in the areas of environmental pollution, health, human rights, and education among many others.


Curriculum Overview

We encourage majors to meet with a REES chair to ensure appropriate course selection and to choose an area of focus: chronological, thematic, methodological, or disciplinary.

A chief goal of the program is to prepare you for research or study in Russia or Eastern Europe. We highly recommend study abroad for a semester or a year in one of our Oberlin-affiliated programs in such Russian cities as Moscow, St. Petersburg, Vladimir, Yaroslavl, or Irkutsk, and in the Czech Republic, Poland, or Hungary. We emphasize building a strong foundation in Russian language and culture so you can function and communicate adequately at home or abroad. In addition, the Paul and Edith Cooper International Learning Center, housed in Peters Hall, provides both the technology and the training for tools that enhance your linguistic skills.

To enrich your academic experience, you can live in or spend time in Oberlin’s Russian House, a small coeducational residential hall for up to 15 students. Russian House serves as a campus hub for all things Russian: concerts, discussion groups, lectures, symposia, and other programs for those studying Slavic cultures. Native speakers of Russian participate as visiting scholars or artists-in-residence, giving you keener insight into the language and customs.

As an REES student, you can benefit from OCREECAS, which promotes awareness of the region to the Oberlin community. The center’s director works with the REES Committee to develop curriculum and supervises internship, research, service, and employment opportunities for qualified students and recent graduates.



Suggested Course Sequence
New students considering a major or minor are encouraged to include an introductory course in Russian history, politics, sociology, literature or culture in their first semester. Students are also strongly encouraged to begin Russian language study in their first year. At the time of declaration of the major, students and their advisors will discuss an appropriate area of focus for the major (e.g., chronological, thematic, methodological, or disciplinary).

Incoming students with previous training in Russian should take the Placement Test to determine the level at which study in Russian should continue. Students beginning at Oberlin can enroll in Russian 101 during the fall semester or take the Winter Term Intensive Beginning Russian course. Participation in a study abroad program is highly recommended, as is residency in Russian House.

Study Abroad
A high priority of the program is to prepare undergraduates for study in Russia or Eastern Europe. Students interested in studying in Russia are encouraged to apply to one of the following programs: (1) the Bard-Smolny program in St. Petersburg, (2) the American Council Study Abroad semester programs in St. Petersburg, Moscow, and Vladimir, (3) the Middlebury School in Russia programs in Moscow, Yaroslavl or Irkutsk, (4) The Council on International Educational Exchange's (CIEE) program in St. Petersburg, or (5) The O'Neil Moscow Art Theater Program. Students interested in studying in the Czech Republic can participate in semester programs run by The Prague Film School or CIEE. CIEE also offers a study program in Poland. Students interested in studying in Hungary may participate in the CIEE, Central European University (Bard), or Semester in Mathematics program in Budapest. Over the past 15 years more than 100 of our students have participated in one or more of these programs. Credits are transferable to Oberlin following the college's transfer credit policy and departmental limits. For further information on these and other programs, follow the link above or contact members of the REES Curricular Committee.

Created in 1998 through support from The Clowes Fund, Inc. and a private donation, the Oberlin Center for Russian, East European and Central Asian Studies (OCREECAS) is designed to promote greater awareness of the region in the Oberlin community. The Center seeks to foster the development of new curricula and to expand summer and post-graduation internships, community service, study abroad and employment opportunities for students. OCREECAS sponsors internship opportunities in Russia and Eastern Europe and seeks to enhance the Oberlin curriculum through on-campus residencies of visiting scholars and artists. Recent OCREECAS short courses have included Soviet Cultural Globalization; Putin’s Russia; Postcommunism as a Cultural Problem; Oil on Troubled Waters: Geopolitics and the Environment in Central Asia and the Caucasus; Emerging Nations: Identity and Culture in Today’s Central Europe.

OCREECAS Internships
Qualified juniors, seniors and recent graduates interested in working in a service or non-profit capacity in Russia and Eastern Europe are encouraged to apply for OCREECAS grants-in-aid. Successful candidates have recently completed internships in Krakow, Kiev and Irkutsk working on projects focused on the environment, contemporary media and Jewish studies. For further information see the Center’s web site: or contact OCREECAS Director, Maia Solovieva.

The major consists of two years of college-level Russian (or the equivalent) plus a minimum of 30 hours, which should be accumulated as follows:

Language and Literature (14-16 hours): completion of the third year of Russian language study (eight credits) with the remaining credits chosen from literature, culture and film courses taught by the Russian Department. A Russian course at the 400 level is highly recommended. Private reading courses, as a rule, do not apply to this category. Normally, up to eight hours in this category may be awarded for study abroad.

Social Sciences (14-16 hours): completion of at least 14 credit hours chosen from two or more disciplines from the following list of Core Courses. Students are encouraged to take at least six hours at the advanced level in history, politics, or sociology (e.g. 300, 400, or with permission, 900-level courses). Normally, History 107/108 is the prerequisite for advanced courses in Russian history, Politics 115 is the prerequisite for 300-level courses in politics, and Sociology 124 is the prerequisite for advanced courses in this area.

Core Courses
Please consult individual departmental listings for full course description and availability. Not all of these courses are offered every year.

Courses taught under the auspices of OCREECAS will count toward the major. Other courses that address the region in a substantive way may also count toward the major, upon approval by the REES Committee.

Politics (POLT)
POLT 260 - Post-Soviet Politics
POLT 214 - Social Change and Political Transformation in Eastern Europe
POLT 211 - Revolutions Semester Offered: Second Semester
POLT 239 - Marxist Theory Semester Offered: Second Semester

Sociology (SOCI)
SOCI 230 - Social Change and Political Transformation in Eastern Europe
SOCI 340 - Nationalism, Culture and Politics under and after Dictatorship
SOCI 431 - The Making and Unmaking of Communist Ideals

Additional Courses
Courses taught in the following departments also apply to the major;

History (HIST)

HIST 204 - Genocide in Modern Eurasia
HIST 405 - USSR Environmental Disasters

Economics (ECON)

These courses have other Economics courses as prerequisites.

ECON 227 - International Trade and Finance Semester Offered: Second Semester
ECON 326 - International Trade Semester Offered: First Semester

Honors Program
Majors should consider application to the Honors Program and are encouraged to speak with a REES committee member about their interests. Criteria for admission normally include the following: overall GPA of at least 3.25; major GPA of at least 3.50; as well as strong evidence of an interdisciplinary focus in courses taken and in the proposed topic of research.

Minor in Russian and East European Studies

Grounded in the social sciences and balancing contemporary issues with knowledge of the region, the REES minor consists of 15 credit hours of coursework.

No more than six hours can be derived from basic language courses (100-level) or a semester of intensive language study in a REES-approved academic program in Russia or Eastern Europe.
A minimum of 6 hours must be in non-language work in REES core courses or courses taught under the auspices of OCREECAS. At least two courses must be beyond the introductory level and completed at Oberlin. Other courses, which address Eastern Europe in a substantive way, will count toward the major, upon approval by the REES Committee.

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