The South Caucasus have taken on unprecedented strategic and political importance for Russia, NATO, and the U.S. in recent years. While rich in natural resources, scenic beauty, and vibrant cultures, the region continues to be hampered by age-old conflicts and political instability. Based in Tbilisi, Georgia, this five-week summer program explores cultural identity and nationalism, development strategies, the emergence of new political systems and parties, and ongoing efforts to foster peace throughout the region.
The academic program provides approximately twenty-two hours per week of in-class instruction. It consists of a major course exploring the politics of the South Caucasus, a minor course in society and culture and an introductory language course. The major course covers topics such as modern political history of the region, security issues, state building and democratization. The society and culture course addresses issues of nationalism, religion, gender and identity. The language course offers the opportunity to study basic Azeri, Chechen, Georgian, or Russian based on the participant’s preference. All classes are conducted in English by expert faculty of Ilia State University with extensive experience teaching foreign students.
- Geopolitics, Conflict and Development in the South Caucasus - 50 academic hours
(4 undergraduate or 5 graduate credits)
Module 1: Political History of the Caucasus (up to 1991)
Module 2: Conflict, Security, and Geopolitics
Module 3: Democratization and Political Development
Module 4: Energy and Economics of Transition
- Society and Culture in the South Caucasus - 20 academic hours
(2 undergraduate or 2.5 graduate credits)
Module 1: Nationalism and Identity
Module 2: Religion and Identity
Module 3: Gender Issues
Module 4: Memory in the South Caucasus
- Language Course - 20 academic hours
(2 undergraduate or 2.5 graduate credits)
Choice of Azeri, Chechen, Georgian, or Russian
(Language courses are geared toward each student’s proficiency level; no prior language study is required for the program.)
Please note that the specific topics included in each course above may vary.
U.S. Academic Credit
American Councils participants receive academic credit through Bryn Mawr College, an institutional member of American Councils. Upon successful completion of the Peace & Security in the South Caucasus Program, Bryn Mawr College awards 8 undergraduate or 10 graduate hours of credit as follows:
POLS 365 Geopolitics, Conflict and Development in the South Caucasus (1 Unit*)
SOC 347 Language and Society in the South Caucasus (1 Unit*)
*One Bryn Mawr College undergraduate unit is equivalent to four undergraduate semester credit hours.
POLS 565 Geopolitics, Conflict and Development in the South Caucasus (1 Unit*)
SOC 547 Language and Society in the South Caucasus (1 Unit*)
*One Bryn Mawr College academic unit is equivalent to five graduate semester credit hours.
Course titles are tentative and may vary depending on instructor availability.
Excursions & Activities
As part of the Peace and Security Program, participants engage in a number of activities outside the classroom designed to give a deeper of understanding of life, culture, and history in the South Caucasus. While extracurricular activities vary from year to year, past American Councils participants in Georgia have enjoyed many of the following events:
- Welcome Lunch
- City tour of Tbilisi
- Visit to the Museum of Soviet Occupation
- Meeting with US Embassy personnel in Georgia
- Day trip to Gori and a refugee settlement
- Visit to the Caucasus Research Resource Center
- Film Screening and Discussion
- Visit to the Tbilisi History Museum
- Farewell Party with a Traditional Georgian Supra
Housing & Meals
All program participants live with a local host family for the duration of the program. Living with a host family provides valuable cultural experience to complement the academic program. Host families expose participants to authentic, everyday life in Georgia while also providing a supportive environment for students. While staying with a host family, participants are provided with a private room, two meals per day, and keys to the apartment or house. All host families are screened, selected, and monitored by American Councils staff.
All program participants are required to attend a mandatory pre-departure orientation in Washington, D.C. at the start of the program. Orientation sessions address health & safety, academic culture, host-family life, culture shock, and strategies to maximize a student's experience abroad. Students also have the change to meet and get to know fellow participants during the orientation. Lodging and meals are provided. Upon arrival in the host country, participants attend an informative in-country orientation.
While overseas, participants have access to in-country staff that provide around-the-clock emergency support. The local American Councils office, employing both expatriates and host-country nationals, arrange the academic program, cultural excursions, housing, in-country orientation, and medical care. During the program, the AC Study Abroad Team in Washington, D.C. stays in close contact via email and telephone with in-country program staff and provides updates as needed to study abroad offices, university partners, and family members.
Participants are enrolled in comprehensive overseas health, accident, and evacuation insurance through Cultural Insurance Services International (CISI) for the duration of the program. CISI provides medical coverage of up to $250,000 per accident or illness. Enrollment in the CISI plan also provides full coverage for emergency medical evacuation.
All participants are provided with a single-entry visa (if applicable) to Georgia for the duration of the academic program. It is the student's responsibility to obtain any other visas required by their individual itineraries.
American Councils established the AC Study Abroad Scholarship Fund to help provide additional financial support for students to study abroad. All applicants to American Councils summer, semester, or academic-year overseas programs are eligible for partial scholarship awards from this fund including the following:
- AC Study Abroad Alumni Scholarship
As a way to thank our returning participants, all AC Study Abroad Alumni that enroll in another AC Study Abroad program will automatically receive a $500 scholarship towards a summer program, or a $1,000 scholarship towards a semester program. Interested alumni should contact the AC Study Abroad Team via email.
- AC Study Abroad Diversity Scholarship
Beginning with Summer 2016 programs, the AC Study Abroad Diversity Scholarship is available to students who have traditionally been under-represented in study abroad and educational exchange programs. This includes, but is not limited to, individuals who identify with certain racial, sexual, ethnic, religious, gender, disability, age, origin, ancestry or veteran statuses. The scholarship is also available to first generation college students, students from low income families, and students with a history of overcoming adversity.
- AC Study Abroad Language & Area Studies Expert Scholarship
Students that participate on consecutive summer area studies programs and semester or academic year language immersion programs will automatically receive an AC Study Abroad Language and Area Studies Expert Scholarship of $1,000 towards the cost of their semester-long program. Interested individuals must apply to both programs by the earlier deadline, and contact the AC Study Abroad Team via email. Cannot be combined with the AC Study Abroad Alumni Scholarship.
- AC Study Abroad Need-Based Scholarship
All applicants to American Councils summer, semester, or academic-year overseas programs are eligible for partial fellowship awards from this fund.
Awards are made on the basis of financial need and academic merit, and typically range from $500 to $2500 unless otherwise noted.
Visit our Financial Aid page for more information on scholarship and funding opportunities through American Councils and outside sources.