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Politics & Public Diplomacy in Contemporary Russia

Designed to give participants new insights into the country today, the Politics & Public Diplomacy in Contemporary Russia program explores regional developments and conflict, economic and political reforms under Vladimir Putin, the role of mass media in society, and new cultural phenomena shaping Russian society.

Program Description

Advanced Russian Language & Area Studies Program (RLASP) While events in Russia since the 1991 dissolution of the Soviet Union have often filled headlines and captured the attention of western observes, few have a full understanding of their meaning, their causes, and their larger social and historical contexts. This five-week summer program is designed to give participants new insights into Russia today. Through readings and intensive coursework in the form of lectures, seminars, and discussions conducted with faculty of Moscow International University, program participants gain a fuller understanding of the complex factors that have shaped Russia’s evolution since the Gorbachev regime and the final days of the USSR.

Program Components

AcademicsAcademics / Courses

The academic program features approximately twenty hours per week of in-class instruction. Content courses are designed to give participants an in-depth understanding of some of the complex historical and cultural trends that have shaped Russia in the 21st Century. Topics include the traumatic 1990’s; Russia under Putin; the conflict with Ukraine; sanctions and the Russian economy; the role of mass media; elections and opposition figures; Russian national identity; Russia’s oil economy. All content courses are conducted in English.

As part of the academic program, participants receive six hours of instruction in Russian language each week. Participants are grouped according to language level for the Russian classes; no prior study of Russian is required.

Participants receive academic credit through Bryn Mawr College, an institutional member of American Councils. Upon successful completion of the program, Bryn Mawr College issues either 8 undergraduate or 10 graduate credit hours for the summer program.

Course Titles
POLS 354/554 Politics and Economics in Post-Soviet Russia (1.0 Units)
RUSS 335/535 Contemporary Russian Culture (1.0 Units)

*One Bryn Mawr College unit is equivalent to four undergraduate semester credit hours or five graduate semester credit hours.

TutoringConversation Partners

To aid cultural integration and support academic learning, participants have the opportunity to meet with conversation partners two hours per week. Conversation partners introduce participants to local people, accompany participants on sightseeing tours, organize cultural activities (cinema, museum, etc.), and provide students with academic support.

ExcursionsExcursions & Cultural Activities

The program includes weekly excursions to historically and culturally significant sites in Moscow. There will also be a weekend trip to St. Petersburg. These excursions are considered part of the curriculum and attendance is mandatory for all participants. Moscow excursions include a city tour, Red Square, Kremlin and Armory, Tretyakov Gallery, Cold War Bunker Museum, Gorky Park, and Novodevichy Cemetery and Monastery.

Housing & MealsHousing & Meals

All program participants live in a double-occupancy dormitory arranged by Moscow International University. Participants receive two meals a day (breakfast and lunch) at one of the Moscow International University cafeterias.


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 and safety, academic culture, host-family life, culture shock, and strategies to maximize a student's experience abroad. Students will also have a chance to meet and get to know their fellow participants during the orientation. Lodging and meals will be provided. Upon arrival in the host country, participants attend an informative in-country orientation.

ScholarshipSupport Services

Support Staff

While overseas, participants have access to in-country program staff that provide around-the-clock emergency support. A full-time resident director oversees the academic and cultural program; assists participants in academic, administrative and personal matters; and coordinates activities with the host institution faculty. 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 to the host-country for the duration of the academic program. It is the student's responsibility to obtain any other visas required by their individual itineraries. Visa application information and forms are provided upon acceptance to the program.

SupportFinancial Aid

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
    The AC Study Abroad Diversity Scholarship is available to students who have traditionally been underrepresented 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.

  • Dan E. Davidson Fellowship
    Established in honor of American Councils’ founder and President Emeritus and his four decades of leadership in the field of international education, the Dan E. Davidson Fellowship supports highly qualified and deserving individuals who demonstrate a dedication to successful international collaboration and the development of greater mutual understanding between the U.S. and countries around the world. Fellowships of up to $2,000 will be awarded for summer study.

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.

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