I. Fullfill Requirements
Offering general education classes can be a great way to attract new students. This comment submitted by Michael Denner, Stetson University:
"I teach a general education class (Russia Today) that lots of students take because it fulfills a basic requirement. It's taught well, and they get really interested in Russian, and end up taking my language class the next year. Classes on film, culture and literature are all big draws here, and though they directly funnel only a few students into the language class, they indirectly funnel lots of students. It's a way... to increase the presence of Russian on campus. It takes work, though, and these courses have to be taught well."
II. Involve and Encourage Students
1. Empower Russian Clubs. Clubs can be a great way to harness student support for programs and for organizing events to bolster program visibility and prestige (see Section III, Develop the Market). Consider giving the club the status of an advisory counsel for your department – involve them in creating or revising classes and hiring new staff. You needn't give them an absolute vote nor need you involve them with confidential department information. However, empowering students is a good way to keep them in the department and more active, which is likely to attract still more students.
2. Get Students Published. If you have students who research and write well, encourage them to publish. SRAS currently sponsors an academic journal called Vestnik, The Journal of Russian and Asian Studies, which accepts and publishes student contributions on any subject pertaining to Russia or the New States of Eurasia. If your student's work is accepted, make sure to notify others in your department, the campus newspaper and other local news agencies. Maximizing the coverage you can get from any event is key to making the most of any marketing opportunity.
3. Encourage Pedagogy. As the old saying goes - sometimes the best way to learn something is to teach it. Teaching can also bolster program practicality by giving students a resume builder which will show that they have experience in public speaking and explaining difficult concepts. Section III will provide quite a few ideas for forums for these projects. Of course, this is best for more advanced students, best as a required and integrated course component, and best if the resume potential is well explained beforehand.
4. Encourage Competition. Forming "Regional Olympiada" with other Russian departments in your area can be a great way for you to network and have your students network with others that share their interest in Russian. It also creates some exposure for the university (particularly if you host or win the event) that administrators often like to see.
III. Form Partnerships with Other Departments
One of the best ways to overcome student's perception of foreign languages as superfluous is to simply go to them and tell them that that perception is wrong.
2. Formulate Classes or Seminars with Other Departments.
, for example, might be interested in formulating an international journalism course that would include guest speakers lecturing on foreign languages and cultures. Journalism might also be interested in seeing our new page of links to Russian journalism resources
History might be receptive to seminars on language and researching/using documents written or translated from foreign languages.
Business and Economics
could probably use a class on international markets, business cultures, travel and, of course, languages. Nothing can be more endearing when meeting with foreign clientele than to show you are open to learning and communicating in their language. There is a grant for this one
Art departments are often extremely open to exposing their students to other cultures. Consider assisting them in formulating programs that would study, for example, Russian culture and art, include a language component, and would end in a summer excursion to St. Petersburg and Moscow to see the art, culture, and language first hand.
The list goes on, but this should give you an idea of some of the possibilities. It may seem, at some first glace, that ideas which might involve other language departments might make your organizational work and initiative less profitable, but this is not necessarily the case. By making courses/seminars/activities wider in scope, you broaden their appeal and thus increase the audience hearing your marketing message. Thus, you increase the possibilities that you might spark an interest that might result in an enrollment. We hope to expand this section soon.
2. Form Partnerships with Other Institutions and Business
This can be the most difficult to pull off, but one that can pay off well by providing direct business experience for your students, and possible jobs after they graduate.
There is a grant offered through the Department of Education to help "institutions of higher education that enter into an agreement with a trade association and/or business for two purposes: to improve the academic teaching of the business curriculum and to conduct outreach activities that expand the capacity of the business community to engage in international economic activities."
Obviously, programs involving foreign languages can do exactly this.
Ideas for specific projects will vary greatly depending on your local economy but to get the ball rolling, consider that Russia imports three billion USD worth of goods from the US annually. These include mostly oil/gas equipment, poultry, inorganic chemicals, tobacco, aircraft, medical equipment, automobiles, and automobile parts. The US imports a total of about twelve billion USD worth goods from Russia that include oil, aluminum, chemicals, platinum, iron/steel, fish and seafood, knit apparel, nickel, wood, and copper. Russia is also a major exporter of software development services. Check with your business department for more ideas.
Also keep in mind that not always do you have to stay in the bounds of your own campus – nearby institutions might be interested in joining forces with you; far away institutions might be interested in collaborating on distance learning programs; Russian universities and institutions within the former Soviet Union are often very receptive to partnership on any number of levels. SRAS can help you contact and coordinate with these institutions.
IV. Encourage Study Abroad
Students who study abroad for a summer or semester are often the best "proselytizers" for a program. Plus, it adds to their program practicality by giving them the opportunity to use their language skills in real situations. It also adds to their resumes, showing that they can take risks and handle themselves in unfamiliar environments and situations. It can also increase their possibilities of getting interviews, as interviewers are often liable to call in candidates who have interesting stories to tell.
SRAS offers a full range of services for educators sending groups, or for students coming individually. If you have any questions concerning these possibilities, contact us.
V. Some of This Make You Nervous?
Ready to go forward with implementing marketing concepts to your Russian program, but unsure how to proceed, or just unsure in general? We've provided some general concepts here to help you develop advertising for your events as well as overcome "marketing fright."