The Department of German, Russian, and East Asian Languages (GREAL) is offering a new major in Russian, Eastern European and Eurasian Studies (REEES).
The major is available to current and incoming students. The major strives to present students with a wide range of knowledge by utilizing the expertise of faculty in numerous departments and by offering study abroad opportunities.
Margaret Ziolkowski, GREAL department chair and program adviser, said the major is interdepartmental and interdisciplinary.
“We wanted to take advantage of the expertise in the different departments,” Ziolkowski said. “We created a two track major, in which students can either focus in politics and history or language, literature and culture.”
According to the course outline, the REEES major offers students opportunities to explore issues of political, social and regional and cultural identity, as well as official and popular culture.
“The courses students can take all have to do with Russian and Eastern European studies,” Ziolkowski said.
The GREAL department presents students pursuing the REEES major with different study abroad options. Students are encouraged to participate in the Miami University summer Russian language workshop in Novgorod, Russia, the Miami summer culture workshop in St. Petersburg, Russia and an approved program though the Havighurst Center.
“There are so many faculty on campus involved because of the Havighurst Center,” Ziolkowski said. “This enabled expansion in departments. We keep creating new courses while keeping some. It is very interconnected.”
Sophomore Tim Model is a foreign affairs and global politics major currently minoring in REEES. However, he is debating whether to add REEES to become a potential double major.
“Aside from the fact that I was raised in a Russian household, since high school, I’ve been interested in Russian culture, politics and studies outside of the language,” Model said. “It’s a really unique major about an area of the world most people decided to stop worrying about after the Cold War ended. People seemed to forget how important that area of the world is.”
Model said he also finds the major appealing because of the world-renowned faculty represented in the departments.
“The people that run the departments and teach are really well known in their field,” Model said. “The faculty members are astounding and because it’s a small major it’s accessible.”
Model views this major as a crucial stepping stone for students interested in these areas of focus or the world at large.
“This area of the world has so many of the world’s natural resources and there is a huge problem of political instability,” Model said. “That causes problems with the Unites States because we need what they have and their government is difficult to deal with. Understanding that area of the world is so crucial. We are directly involved by what goes on in that part of the world.”
Ziolkowski feels strongly this new major will provide students with the skills to become a vital in such neglected regions and gain a deeper understanding of the world.
“It has thrived as a major,” Ziolkowski said. “We are hoping to provide students with a broad expertise of the world and culture.”
Sophomore Brittany Meade, an international studies major who studies Russian, believes in the potential of the REEES major.
“It is a really great program, where right now in ITS you can only have a concentration in Eastern European studies,” Meade said. “If I were a first-year, I would definitely think about making it my major. It’s such an interesting region.”
After learning more about the major, Model’s mind is almost decided about pursing his double major.
“It’s a kind of niche major,” Model said. “Either you are interested or you’re not. I feel like it’s a great thing for Miami to have because it’s so vital for people to understand that region.”