Why Study Russian?
Since the end of the Cold War, Russia's political and economic transformation has brought exciting new career paths for Russian majors and minors.
Most recently, the crisis in Ukraine has sparked a national conversation about the neglect of Russian Studies over the past two decades and the dire need for young Russia specialists. Testifying to Russia's continued importance to national security, the U.S. State Department has designated Russian a "critical need language" and currently offers funding for further study, including the Critical Language Scholarships and the Boren Scholarships. Our graduates find that Russian language skills and cultural expertise open doors to careers in policy, academia, non-profits, business, and the arts.
The largest country in the world, Russia covers one-sixth of Earth's landmass. The Russian capital, Moscow, is not only Europe's largest city, with more than 11 million people, but has become a cosmopolitan destination for artists, musicians, writers, and, more recently, shoppers. Russian remains the lingua franca of the former Soviet Union, with more than 250 million speakers worldwide.
Russian graduates can pursue careers in national security with the CIA or FBI; both actively recruit Russia specialists. As for the private sector, large U.S. banks are increasingly stepping up security around cyber crime originating from Russia.
Diplomacy and National Service
The World Bank has had recent projects in Russia, while Peace Corps maintains a presence in Ukraine. In fact several Davidson alumni have honed their Russian language skills doing important humanitarian work with Peace Corps there. If you're inclined toward teaching, Fulbright scholarships are available for teaching English in Russia, including a Critical Language Enhancement Award.
As Statfor Global Intelligence notes, "Russia holds the world's largest proven reserves of natural gas and continually alternates with Saudi Arabia as the top oil producer." In this age of petropolitics, Russia's vast energy reserves can't be ignored.
Arts and Letters
Russia continues to be a priority destination for both the arts and academia due to a renowned culture that proudly boasts such cultural giants as Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky, Kandinsky, Chagall, Stanislavsky, and the Bolshoi Ballet.
Russia hosted the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. In 2018, Russia hosted another major international sporting event, the FIFA World Cup.