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POLS/RUSS 4362: RUSSIA TODAY
An Introduction to Russian and Eurasian Studies
Spring 2013

Добро пожаловать!  Ласкаво просимо! Laipni lūdzam! კეთილი იყოს თქვენი მობრძანება! and Xush kelibsiz!... to the core course in UTA's Russian/Eurasian studies program and one of UTA's most interesting multi-disciplinary course.  Over the next fifteen weeks you will be introduced to all things-Russia: the land, history, peoples, and cultures that make up this unique part of the world.  "Russia Today" is a survey class that is designed to stimulate your inner-Russian by means of scholarly research, films, music, and interactions with policy-makers and observers of this land and its neighbors.

This is also about what many term a "critical" area of study.  Russia is a country, language, and culture of global importance and understanding it requires specialized, multi-disciplined instruction.  A core group of three regular instructors, as well as numerous guest lecturers will give you a unique understanding of the meanings of modern-day Russia.  Our "learning objectives" include a broad understanding of the primary means to analyze a part of the world whose significance extends from world politics and trade, to literature, philosophical interpretation, and scientific endeavor.  You will learn of tsars, commissars, composers, every-day people, climates, economics, and a host of other subjects that you would normally need three semesters or more to cover.  You will learn in here of scientific endeavors, analytical techniques, and how opinion about the world's largest country fits into the mosaic of global study.  Here is a great opportunity to discover that Russia is more than a country, much more than either the sum of its parts or the parts of its sum.  Russia is here revealed for all its  contradictions, predispositions, and curiosities which make for one of the most interesting area studies to be found in the college experience.

Russia is just too big for any one professor to "pretend" that he or she knows it all.  In this course you get the combined of three instructors: Dr. Mark Cichock (Political Science); Dr. Lonny Harrison (Modern Languages); and Dr. Pete Smith (Russian/Distance Education).  As the instructors for your learning experience we are your hosts for the first part of your Russian experience and will guide you along paths you never expected over the next several months.  In addition, we also bring to you professionals from the field of Russian studies through in-class video conferences with U.S. government agencies, business sector specialists, and commentators from within Russia itself.  We expect that your reward for participation will be an experience that you will remember long after graduating from UTA.

Readings:   There is no specific text for this course due to the very broad subject matter.  The class is instead very heavy on the use of blogs including one that we provide for the class (http://blog.uta.edu/russiatoday/).   There are some excellent sources of information and blogs especially that we will be telling you about daily.  That, of course, means we expect to use them and their information for the tests so paying attention to these is very important.  As well, each written exam will also include current events items and analytical themes found in these sources.

Students are strongly encouraged to read the following blogs on a regular basis:
    http://www.rferl.org/archive/The_Power_Vertical/latest/
    http://www.robertamsterdam.com

Maps: Students are especially encouraged to use the Maps Collection of the University of Texas at Austin.  The site is http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/index.html.

Testing/Evaluation: There are three exams for this course, or what we refer to as Opportunities to Excel (OTE's); this includes the final exam.  OTEs combine short answer essays, identifications, fill in the blanks, and multiple-choice questions.  In addition, all students will do a research or translation assignment (see below).  Each counts as 25% of your total grade and all must be taken/completed to receive a final grade for the course.  Students are responsible for being on time for exams and in handing in their assignments on time.  Make-up exams are only possible with the consent of the individual instructor and must conform to university policy for testing.

Students are responsible for contacting their respective professor for the details of their assignments.  Russian language students will do a research paper using Russian sources assigned by Dr. Harrison; while POLS students will also do research papers the subjects of which are decided in consultation with Dr. Cichock.  Each professor determines his own standards for quantity, quality, and grading of assignments, and all three instructors contribute to the writing of the exams.

Attendance: This course relies heavily on guest speakers so class attendance is required.  Students are expected to show up on time so that speakers may get on with their material/discussions and not be interrupted by late arrivals.  Attendance is taken into consideration in terms of border line grades.

Academic Honesty: Students are expected to familiarize themselves with UTA's standards for academic honesty and integrity.  Information on academic honesty/dishonesty is available from the Office of Student Affairs.

Accommodations: UTA provides accommodations for most academic circumstances whether these are disabilities, tutoring, or illnesses.  In all cases, students are responsible for providing the necessary paperwork and must speak to the professors about their needs.  All personal accommodations, as well as grades, are kept in the strictest confidence so that students may feel free to pursue their studies without interference or invasions of privacy.

Office Hours/Access to Instructors:

        Dr. Cichock:  Office, 221 Hammond Hall; Office hours: MWF 10am-10:50am, and by appointment.  Phone: 817-272-2388.  E-mail: cichock@uta.edu.

          Dr. Harrison: Office, 221 Hammond Hall; Office hours: MWF 2:00-3:00pm, and by appointment; Phone: 817-272-9506.  E-mail: lonnyharrison@uta.edu.

          Dr. Smith: Office, 300 Nedderman Hall; Office hours: MWF, 11am-12pm and by appointment.  Phone: 817-272-5727.  E-mail: psmith@uta.edu.

 

                http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/commonwealth/russiaaddivisions.jpg

Calendar

(please note that scheduling may change due to the availability of speakers)

Unit One: Defining Russia and Eurasia

Jan. 14: Introduction                                                               Cichock, Harrison, and Smith

Jan. 16: Pre-course survey, including map quiz                 Cichock and Smith

Jan. 18, & 21: Geography (physical, pol., and eco.)            Smith and Cichock

Jan. 23: Language and Diversity (Cyrillic alphabet)          Smith and Harrison
     http://www.russianlessons.net/
     http://masterrussian.com/blday_greeting.shtml

Jan. 25: Demographic Issues                                                  Smith

Jan. 28 & 30, Feb. 1 & 4: History                                            Smith, Harrison, and Cichock

Feb. 6 & 8: Ideology (Marxism, capitalism)                        Cichock

Feb. 11: "Raspad": The Breakup of the Soviet Union         Smith

Feb. 13: OTE #1

Unit Two: Culture, Politics, and Change

Feb. 15-22: Russian and Soviet literature                             Harrison

Feb. 25 - Russian Philosophy                                                  Dr. Kenneth Williford, UTA Philosophy 

Feb. 27, March 1, & 4: Politics in Russia                               Cichock

March 6 & 8: The Media                                                         Smith

March 11-15: Spring Break!!!

March 18: Modern Ukraine                                                   Cichock

March 20: Modern Central Asia                                           Cichock

March 22 & 25: The Caucasus                                               Cichock & Smith

March 27 & 29: The Baltics                                                    Cichock
    (Last day to drop classes)

April 1: OTE #2
 
Unit  Three: Russia from Other Eyes

April 3: Study Abroad Experiences                                     Harrison

April 5: Religion in Russia/Eurasia                                     Cichock

April 8: Explaining Orthodoxy                                             Cichock (or guest)

April 10-15: Teleconferences (room location TBA)

April 17: Youth Culture in Russia                                         Smith and UT-Austin guest lecturer

April 19-26: Russian Film                                                       Harrison

April 29: Russia's International Relations                            Cichock
      (POLS projects due)

May 1-3: Russia's Problems and Prospects                           Cichock, Harrison, and Smith

May 8: Final OTE, 8-9:15am.