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Russia and the Environment
Environmental History and Policy in a Vast Ecosystem

Related Information:
  Included in program cost:

Russia and the Environment looks at a Russia's vast and unique ecosystems in historical and modern perspective. Students will focus on Siberia's history from its first colonization, to its Soviet industrialization, to its current transition to a market economy. Students also critically consider Russian and international theories on how to understand and manage the impact of these events in addition to learning the Russian vocabulary and cultural norms related to environmental issues.

This innovative course spends time outside the classroom, taking students to the beautiful and unique nature that surrounds Irkutsk. It also allows students to opt for additional hands-on experience by serving an internship with a local environmental NGO, museum, or other organization. Summer students assist The Great Baikal trail in developing sustainable ecotourism infrastructure around Lake Baikal. Courses are taught in English and internships are available in Russian or English.

The environment is a local and global issue. Tomorrow's environmental professionals will need to cross borders and communicate with a wide range of people to achieve their goals. This program is geared to help train those professionals today.

Jump to: Curriculum; Requirements; Photos; Application.


Dates, Costs, and Courses
- Click below for full information on the courses -

Semester Options

Spring: Cost: $9,595
Feb 4- May 24, 2018  (Apply by Oct 15, 2018)

Cost: $9,595
     Sep 2 - Dec 13, 2019  (Apply by May 15, 2019)

Full Year:
Cost: $16 995*
    Sep 2, 2019 – May 24, 2020     (Apply by May 15, 2019)

Semester Courses:

RS-100/200/300 Russian Language Study  
Courses offered at six different levels, from beginning to advanced.
Academic Hours:   300**

RS-351: The Environmental History of Russia
Overview the driving and problematic questions that have informed modern environmental science. Sample materialist, literary, and culturally-oriented contributions to Russia's nascent field of environmental history. Discuss abundant first-hand accounts and literature covering nomadic, agricultural, military, entrepreneurial, and industrial pursuits; monumental Soviet environmental transformations and catastrophes; and how the natural world has figured in shaping and representing identities in tsarist Russia, the USSR, and modern Russia.
Academic Hours: 56 (plus culture lab)**

RS-351b: Culture Lab
Excursions, seminars, and other out-of-the-classroom experiences at locations of historical, cultural, or other interest. See full description here.

- Optional courses - (Choose One)

RS-352: Environmental Policy in Russia
Investigate complex contemporary environmental issues including demographic, food and energy security, and positive and negative anthropogenic impacts on the biosphere. Explore measures taken to protect the environment in Russia including addressing air, land, and water pollution, and wastewater management. Special focus on solid and hazardous waste management including radioactive waste. Comparisons made to environment cases from various countries including the US.
Academic Hours: 52 (plus culture lab)**

RS-354: Internship

Take part in an internship with local organizations supporting environmental awareness, including NGOs, tourism companies, schools, and museums.
Academic Hours:  Dependent on individual internship; Course optional

RS-352 Research Project
Available only to second semester students

Conduct field or archival research in Irkutsk area on subject of your choice. Students will submit a project proposal in advance, which will be discussed with SRAS staff to hone its methodology and focus. The project must result in a paper of at least 15 pages.
Academic Hours:  Dependent on Individual Project

Summer Options

Full Summer (10 weeks): Cost: $7,690
     May 27 - Aug 2, 2018  (Apply by: March 15, 2019)

Late Summer (6 weeks): Cost: $5,295
     June 24 - Aug 2, 2018  (Apply by: April 1, 2019)

Summer Courses:

RS-100/200/300/400: Russian Language Study

Small, intensive classes focus on reading, writing, grammar, speaking, comprehension, and phonetics. Intermediate to advanced Russian speakers will additionally build fluency in the lexica of environmental studies.
Academic hours: 48 (late summer) – 128 (full summer)

ENV-353: Russia and the Environment
This course is a blend of ENV-351 and ENV-352 (see semester options), looking primarily at the environmental history of Russia, using case studies to explore environmental policy in Russia. This course is taught in its entirety within the Late Summer session dates.
Academic hours: 48

RS-351b: Culture Lab
Excursions, seminars, and other out-of-the-classroom experiences at locations of historical, cultural, or other interest. See full description here.

Service Project: GBT Trail Building
Join an international team of volunteers to help build free-to-use, sustainable ecotourism infrastructure around Lake Baikal. Carve the trail bed, clear fallen trees and dwarf pines from the trail, build new trail, construct small bridges and dykes, and more in the Baikalsky National Nature Reserve!


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Photos from our Students in Irkutsk


Video on SRAS Programs in Irkutsk
Note: Russia and the Environment is the successor program to Siberian Studies.
Note: The host university remains unchanged, but has been renamed to "Irkutsk State University."

Program Details


*Costs: Program costs include tuition for study as outlined, dormitory accommodation, visa and registration, pre-departure materials, local orientation, health and accident insurance, cultural program, round-trip airport transfers, SRAS in-country support, and use of a mobile telephone for the duration of the program. All prices listed on this page are subject to change without notice.

*Prerequisites: Overall GPA of 2.5 and 3.0 in major. Previous Russian language study not required. 400-level courses require advanced knowledge of Russian.

*Program Objectives: To give a solid overview of Siberian Russia and Russian language skills to prepare the student for career opportunities in and related to Russia. Two semesters of RS-100/200/300 is the equivalent of two to three years of college-level Russian at home. 

*Language of Instruction: These courses are taught in English. Advanced Russian speakers will be given additional readings in Russian and other opportunities to practice their Russian skills.

*About the Classes: Siberian Studies is a relatively small program. For RS-100/200/300, class size can range from 1 to 12, but is usually 4-6 during the semester and 1-3 during the summer. All other courses 300-level and below are small-enrollment courses specially arranged by SRAS. Class size is typically 1-3 persons during both semester and summer sessions. 400-level courses are taught with Russian students and class size varies widely. Shortly after you arrive for your program, you will be placed for language lessons according to your language level, as determined by a short written or oral exam. Depending on your level, you may be placed in a group that is already formed, or with other new arrivals of the same level. If larger-than-normal enrollment occurs in the summer, group lessons may be arranged with increased hours. Individual lessons are more intensive than group lessons.

**Academic Hours: An academic hour is 40 minutes. Totals listed are minimum hours for full-semester or summer-session courses. See our FAQ page and/or contact SRAS for more information.

*About the SRAS-GBT Relationship: Participants joining through SRAS will pay only those fees listed on the SRAS site. Only those participants joining through SRAS are eligible for financial aid as offered by SRAS.

**Credit Transfer and Transcripts: While this program is designed to be the equivalent of 15-18 credits, how many credits your home university may award depends entirely on your home university. SRAS recommends discussing this with your advisor and SRAS before you apply. Students planning on applying for credit transfer must read our FAQ page for more info. Transcripts may be requested (click for details). For all courses listed above except internships (SS-302), the Irkutsk State University issues the transcript. SRAS may provide a separate certificate for SS-302 upon request.