THE CONCEPT of multidisciplinary area study is not as new or as revolutionary as it is sometimes assumed to be. Education in the classics, based on a venerable tradition, also involves multi-faceted study of a whole society. Students of the civilizations of Greece and Rome are not only expected to have a grasp of the language and philology, the literature and mythology of these cultures, but are also required to be well versed in their history, institutions, economies, and social structure. An important difference, it is true, is that classical education is concerned with societies that no longer exist, while area studies as they have developed in the last few decades have examined recent or contemporary societies still in a dynamic process of development and change—often very rapid change.
Although experimental programs in American civilization and in the study of foreign cultures in their entirety date back to the 1920’s and 1930’s, the Second World War provided the major impetus for the recent remarkable growth of area studies in the United States. Deficiencies in our knowledge of many areas of the world, and the lack of Americans who knew these areas well, were starkly revealed under the pressure of global conflict and of our growing international commitments. After the war government officials, scholars, university administrators, and foundation planners cooperated in efforts to remedy this situation, and several graduate area study programs were initiated. Because of the importance of the Soviet Union and its emerging role in world affairs, programs on the Russian area were among the first to be established in the postwar period. These programs have now been in existence for a little over a decade and have made an excellent record of achievement.
The purpose of this chapter is to review this record and to raise and discuss, on the basis of the experience accumulated, a number of the most important issues connected with graduate study of Russia. Both multidisciplinary area training as it is practiced in the graduate area programs and the more traditional form of graduate education in Russian studies—specialization on Russia in a single discipline— are considered. Area training, in the technical sense, has been one of the most significant developments in Russian studies. Russian area programs have trained the bulk of the new generation of scholars in this field, and they have developed many fruitful ideas of substance and method. At the same time, customary graduate-school methods have throughout the past decade continued to carry a share of graduate education in Russian studies.
The present report is based on visits to seventeen universifies having graduate programs in Russian studies1 and on detailed questionnaires sent to most of these universities and to over six hundred students and alumni of the four largest graduate programs—at the universities of California (Berkeley), Columbia, Harvard, and Washington. Two hundred and eighteen students and alumni, over one-third, replied to the questionnaires. In addition, a number of leading scholars in the field, as well as government officials concerned with education in Russian studies, were consulted.2
To a considerable degree the discussion in this chapter takes its departure from the objectives for Russian area study set forth in 1947 by the Committee on World Area Research of the Social Science Research Council, although those suggestions pertained primarily to multidisciplinary area training while this report, as already noted, also considers graduate specialization on Russia in a single discipline. The objectives established in 1947 for area training in the Russian field were: to prepare a limited number of superior students for teaching and research and for nonacademic work on the Russian area; to provide competence in the language, on the area, and in a discipline (requiring an additional year of graduate study); and to make students aware of the contribution of disciplines other than their major ones to an understanding of the area. Related goals were the development of disciplines under-represented in Russian studies and of competence on non-Russian areas of the Soviet Union, the preparation of teaching materials and aids, and the provision of research opportunities.3
A number of the issues raised in 1947 are now being carefully reconsidered by administrators and scholars concerned with Russian studies. Several of the graduate programs are in the process of re-evaluating their efforts. Since 1947 a good deal of experience in Russian area programs at the graduate level and in the more traditional forms of graduate education in Russian studies has been accumulated, and resources for teaching and research on Russia have been greatly expanded. Opportunities for contact with the Soviet Union have developed rapidly in the last few years. Academic and public interest in the Russian area has burgeoned, and the passage in 1958 of the National Defense Education Act may make available substantial new sources of support and encouragement for the development of area and language study of Russia, as well as of other areas. The time seems appropriate for some reflection concerning the problems and opportunities of graduate education in Russian studies.
Evolving Objectives. The primary stimulus to Russian studies in the period immediately following World War II was the desire to understand the new world power which was emerging as the leading rival of the United States in international relations. Russian studies also shared the objectives of foreign area studies in general: to broaden the horizons of American education through study of significant portions of the total human experience that had been largely ignored in the past; to provide perspective and deeper insights into Western culture through an examination of other cultures; and to develop new techniques for the integrated study of a whole society, leading to the breaking down of the restrictive compartmentalization of disciplines and eventually to greater universality of knowledge. At the same time, the chief tasks confronting Russian studies immediately after the war were immediate and practical ones: to provide verified knowledge concerning the Soviet Union and to prepare Americans in this field for careers in government, journalism, and academic life.
Many of the leaders of the movement to develop Russian area studies had served with the government during the war in policy and research capacities, and they knew well how few civil servants were equipped with a working knowledge of the Russian language or an understanding of the Soviet system. The resources for teaching and scholarship on the Russian area were also scanty, although the skills of the handful of scholars trained before and during the war were now supplemented by the experience gained from wartime experiments in Russian area training. In the 1930’s, Soviet Russia was on the far horizons of American political and intellectual interests, and during the war Germany and Japan received first priority as areas deserving of systematic study. When in 1945 the Soviet state came to occupy the center of the stage, the United States government as well as the academic community was in most respects unprepared.
Thanks to the farsighted planning and dedication of a few scholars, university administrators, and foundation officials, this challenge was successfully met. Several graduate Russian area programs were established early in the postwar years, hundreds of students who later entered academic life and government service were trained, and our store of knowledge concerning the Soviet Union was rapidly expanded.
Today there exists in the country a new sense of national need, a heightened atmosphere of urgency, concerning our knowledge and understanding of the Soviet orbit. For the first time there is widespread and popular feeling that most educated Americans should know something about the Soviet system and Communism generally. A decade ago there was also a sense of urgency, but it then related to the pressing need for specialized personnel and information concerning Soviet society. Now the interest in Russia is greater, the concern both broader and more complex. This alteration in public and political attitudes, partially reflected in the National Defense Education Act, coincides with the beginning of a major expansion of American higher education, necessitated by the combined effect of a rapidly growing population and a sharp increase in the percentage of secondary-school graduates entering college. Taken together, these factors confront Russian studies with great opportunities and major responsibilities for maintaining and improving specialized education and research on Russia and for widening the study of Russia in American education as a whole.
In the light of these considerations, it is becoming increasingly apparent that in many respects more than Russia itself is involved in what has traditionally been known as Russian studies. The Russian language, although it is not native to many of the peoples of the U.S.S.R., is rapidly becoming a world language. In many fields of science, it already rivals German and French in importance. One can imagine the time in the foreseeable future when Russian will be second only to English as the language of science. In the nineteenth century Russia produced one of the great world literatures which continues to influence intellectual and artistic developments in many other parts of the world as well as in Russia. In the case of economics, the Soviet economy is the prototype of the planned economy and as such is characteristic of the systems under which approximately a third of the world’s population now lives. It deserves study as the principal rival to the free pluralistic systems in the underdeveloped countries. Similarly, the Soviet political system, whether considered as a totalitarian government or as an expression of Communist theory, is of significance far beyond the frontiers of the U.S.S.R. In the behavioral sciences, the Soviet Union provides an example of an industrialized, bureaucratic society, while other Communist nations reflect societies in various stages of transition and modernization. From the historical and cultural point of view, the development of Russian civilization represents an important part of the universal human heritage.
This view of Russian studies, significantly broader than that contemplated a decade ago, raises the question of their place in the education of the average American. For many reasons the Russian area is clearly less important than the West European as a subject of general education. In the foreseeable future Western Europe will continue to occupy first place among the foreign areas with which American students should become familiar. It is questionable, however, whether Western Europe should continue to dominate the educational scene so completely. Since World War II we have become aware that we live in a world much larger than the North Atlantic community. The rest of the world was never as quiescent as one would gather from reading course offerings of two decades ago; but it is now so active that even the high walls which protect university curricula have been decisively pierced. The educated citizen must now learn about a new world, and in this new world Russia plays an important role. Its language, literature, and national history give Russia a position of considerable significance. Its political, economic, and social way of life, however, makes it second in importance only to the North Atlantic system as a subject for American study and research.
It may therefore be said that Russian studies have been developing over the past few years from a relatively esoteric subject, of critical interest primarily to government officials and a few scholars, to a subject of general interest and importance for educated citizens who wish to understand the world in which they live. Those concerned with Russian studies are facing the challenge of transferring their high level of specialized achievement to general education. The implications of this challenge for graduate education in Russian studies are considerable. If more colleges and secondary schools in the United States are to meet the need for a wider knowledge of the Russian language and a clearer comprehension of the type of economy, political system, and society of which the Soviet Union is today the leading representative, the graduate schools, in turn, must provide the teachers, researchers, and materials to support such a development. In fact, it is perhaps not farfetched to foresee the day when every university, almost every college, and many secondary schools will teach the Russian language and will have instructors in at least several fields who are well acquainted with the Russian area and its problems.
As the other papers in this volume show, there are great potentialities for the development of Russian studies in undergraduate and secondary education. Many students and teachers are anxious to know more about the Soviet Union and the Communist system. Many administrators would welcome an opportunity to introduce more material on Russia into the curriculum; they need only advice and guidance on how to begin, and help in finding instructors prepared to teach about Russia and in acquiring the necessary library resources. Graduate education in Russian studies must be ready to encourage and assist this developing interest and to support the widening study of Russia at all levels in American education.
While the opportunities beckoning in the field of Russian studies in undergraduate and secondary education are of great importance, the original objectives of graduate education in Russian studies must not be lost sight of. The demands of national interest which inspired the growth of Russian studies a decade ago continue to play a vital role in their development. The need for well-trained government officials with Russian area competence continues at a rate only a little below that of the first decade. The universities and the scholarly world as a whole still require highly skilled teachers and researchers on the Russian area. Graduate education and research programs will continue to be the core of Russian studies; they remain the indispensable base on which an expansion of Russian studies in undergraduate and secondary education must rest. Their specialized functions must be maintained and reinforced while new approaches in general education are being developed, tested, and applied.
What are the resources available to the Russian field for continuing to fulfill its original assignments as well as for undertaking the new tasks facing it? In appraising the position of Russian studies in the United States today, one is forcibly struck by how much remains to be done as compared with the level of scholarship concerning any of the major West European countries. This is not to say that rapid progress has not been made in the past decade, but rather that the subject is so large and the state of our knowledge ten years ago was so limited that even with the best of efforts only a small part of the task could be completed in so short a time. Moreover, much of the postwar effort in Russian studies centered in a few disciplines: history, literature, economics, and political science. Encouraging beginnings were made in education, geography, linguistics, philosophy, and sociology, but these fields still remain largely unexplored in Russian studies. Almost no scholars were educated or research was undertaken in fine arts, anthropology, archaeology, and the history and sociology of science. The separate papers dealing with American research on Russia since World War II prepared in connection with the Review of Russian Studies illustrate very strikingly the extent of the gap which still exists between Russian and West European studies in regard to the level of our knowledge of each area.4
The relatively underdeveloped state of Russian studies is even more apparent in respect to library resources and the availability of teachers. While a number of teachers and scholars have been educated in Russian studies in the last decade, the expected demands resulting from mushrooming enrollments in higher education and from the probable expansion of Russian studies at the undergraduate level are likely to outstrip the supply of Russian specialist teachers before long. As a result of the upsurge of interest in Russian language instruction which followed the launching of the Soviet satellites, there is already a critical shortage of teachers of the Russian language for our colleges and high schools, and immediate emergency measures are needed if this shortage is to be overcome. In other disciplines, many of those now teaching courses on Russia have been drafted from other fields of interest and lack specialized preparation on the area.
The shortage of library facilities is also striking. Probably no more than six or seven university libraries have adequate resources for advanced research in Russian studies.5 Yet research training forms an indispensable part of all types of graduate education in Russian studies.
Future Needs. In the light of the evolving objectives of Russian studies, it seems likely that over the next decade there will be continuing need for a wide variety of trained personnel: both nonacademic specialists, including government officials, journalists, and administrators in various international and public information organizations, and scholars in teaching and research, ranging from a small number required by university area centers carrying on advanced graduate education and research to a growing number needed by colleges wishing to offer their undergraduates comparative or special courses dealing with the Russian language, literature, and history, with totalitarian governments and societies, and with planned economies. While other demands will probably remain at about the present level, a larger number of college teachers equipped to deal with the Russian aspects of their own discipline will undoubtedly be required in a period of growing interest in Russian studies and of an expanding undergraduate population.
On the basis of current resources and a realistic estimate of the support available for the future development of the field, how can we best prepare the various types of personnel needed? There are two basic patterns of graduate education in Russian studies which can be utilized: (1) Full-fledged area programs providing a multidisciplinary introduction to the area at the M. A. level followed by a Ph. D. in a discipline. In its most advanced form, such preparation should also require the student to participate in an interdisciplinary research seminar and to have some acquaintance, for comparative purposes, with another major non-Western area. Complete area training of this type usually requires at least an additional year and a half of study beyond that normally required for a Ph. D. (2) Regular graduate education in Russian studies through specialization on Russia in a single discipline. This should include intensive study of the Russian aspect of that discipline, command of the Russian language, a dissertation topic in the Russian field, and whatever course work is possible in the Russian aspects of other disciplines. (These two patterns are discussed in detail in later sections of the chapter.)
In the years ahead the bulk of the students should be educated, as they have been during the past decade, in the full-fledged area programs. This is the most complete type of education in Russian studies, providing multidisciplinary area training and encouraging integrated study of the area as a whole. It prepares highly specialized teachers and researchers for the field and, by selective utilization of various levels or components of its total program, it can also provide training for those who wish to acquire a general knowledge of the area without specializing in it. For example, by taking one or two years of the multidisciplinary area program at the M. A. level, those interested in government service, those preparing for nonacademic careers, and college teachers who wish to enrich their teaching by adding familiarity with the Russian area to their disciplinary competence can acquire some background on the area.
At the same time it should be recognized that the area programs will probably not be able to meet the entire range of personnel needs in the field during the next decade. In the first place, the number of full-fledged programs is small. The very extensive resources in staff, courses, and library facilities that are necessary to support full area training are difficult and expensive to acquire and maintain; such resources now exist at only a few institutions and can be developed elsewhere only slowly. Secondly, the future needs of the colleges suggest the desirability of providing opportunities for those students and teachers who wish to acquire a general knowledge of the Russian area, primarily in their discipline, without developing highly specialized competence regarding it. Students may prefer a program of this type because of their intellectual interests or career objectives, or because of limitations of time and money affecting their graduate education.
It seems likely, therefore, that in the coming decade, in addition to the students educated in the full-fledged area programs, a significant number of students will be prepared by traditional graduate-school methods through specialization on Russia in a single discipline. Moreover, special programs, ranging from six to fifteen months’ duration, should be considered for established college teachers who wish to broaden their interests by adding general training in the Russian area to their previously acquired disciplinary competence. Such programs should be under the supervision of the area centers. At the same time summer institutes or workshops and consulting services would be of value to secondary-school teachers and others interested in a briefer introduction to the area. Both the area programs and the graduate schools with less developed resources in Russian studies should undertake to direct projects of this kind, in cooperation with schools of education and educational associations. These various programs of teacher education may require some extra-university financing, greater flexibility in training requirements, and a modest expansion or reallocation of administrative and faculty resources in Russian studies in institutions meeting these new needs. The provisions of the National Defense Education Act may be of some assistance in establishing and maintaining special training projects of this kind, particularly where language study is involved.
In general, it may be said that the coming years will require a continuation and development of graduate education in Russian studies in all the directions indicated above if the field is to capitalize on its opportunities and fulfill its responsibilities to the educational community and to the nation at large. Present area programs should be strengthened and improved, particularly in the light of the experience of the past decade. The programs should make a special effort to take advantage of the growing opportunities for contact with the Soviet Union and of the improved grounding in the Russian language and area that students entering the programs in the future can be expected to have as a result of the increasing interest in Russian studies at the undergraduate and secondary-school levels. One or two additional programs properly equipped to provide full area training should be developed as resources permit. In view of the present concentration of area programs on the East and West coasts, these programs may well, and suitably, emerge in the Midwest. The development of one or two well-staffed and adequately supported programs, prepared to do the complex and demanding job inherent in complete area training, would be far more desirable than the establishment of a number of “paper” programs, commanding insufficient resources and ostensibly offering training they are not equipped to give. While the assistance provided by the National Defense Education Act may be of considerable value in strengthening existing area programs and in developing new ones, the availability of experienced scholars and teachers and of library materials in Russian studies is limited. Care must be taken that the Act does not encourage spreading the scarce resources of the field too thin or lead to the depletion of present centers of strength in Russian studies.
A number of institutions which now possess certain resources in Russian studies, though not enough to support full area training, can fulfill an important function by providing well-developed graduate specialization on Russia in one or more individual disciplines to students anxious to acquire some knowledge of the area. In this way, they will help to meet the need for college teachers who can include coverage of the Russian area in their general undergraduate teaching. At the same time, by playing a role in the preparation of college teachers and in the “in-service” education of secondary-school teachers through workshops and institutes, these graduate institutions, as well as the area programs, can become significant centers of influence for the promotion of Russian studies in various geographical regions of the country.6
General Requirements of Graduate Education on Russia. Certain basic issues affect all patterns of graduate education in Russian studies. A much debated question is the amount of work in the Russian language and area an undergraduate should take in preparation for graduate study of the area. One view, widely supported in the Russian field, is that the best undergraduate background for students either entering multidisciplinary graduate area programs or undertaking specialization on Russia in a single discipline is general preparation in the social sciences and humanities, sufficient grounding in a single discipline to permit the beginning of disciplinary work at the graduate level without delay, and adequate language preparation. To the extent possible within this framework, it is probably also desirable for undergraduates to take a few courses that will serve to introduce them to the area. In this view, intensive specialization in the area at the undergraduate level is a mistake. Only a minority of the students taking undergraduate programs on Russia can be expected to go on to graduate work in the Russian field. Even for the student who does so, undergraduate concentration in the area reduces the amount of time available for study of his own culture and heritage and for general preparation in the liberal arts, which should be primary objectives of an undergraduate education. In graduate school the student will be plunged into intensive specialization in a discipline and in the area; he should therefore utilize his college years to acquire the broad educational foundation necessary to support such specialization. The pressure of graduate study will certainly not permit him to add such a foundation at that stage, once he has missed it in his undergraduate experience.
An opposing viewpoint is that undergraduates interested in Russia should be encouraged to major in the area, in addition to undertaking study of the Russian language. It is argued that an area major is as useful for purposes of a general liberal-arts education as the conventional undergraduate majors in a discipline or group of disciplines. In this view, it might even be desirable to require basic area and language work in college for admission to graduate area programs or to graduate study of Russia in a discipline. This would reduce the amount of time now devoted in graduate school to elementary language instruction and to survey courses on the area. Such a requirement might also encourage the spread of Russian studies in undergraduate institutions.
In this connection, it should be noted that several of the existing graduate programs in Russian studies grew out of and are largely extensions of undergraduate majors on the Russian area. Some observers see distinct advantages in a close relationship between programs on Russia at the graduate and undergraduate levels in the same university. They believe that undergraduate majors in the area stimulate student and university interest in graduate training on Russia, provide experience and resources upon which the graduate programs can draw, and prepare students for graduate training in the field. Others, while recognizing the benefits of arousing undergraduate interest in Russia and of having students who are going on to graduate school begin language training at the undergraduate level, maintain that too close a relationship between graduate and undergraduate programs in Russian studies within one university may blur the distinction in attainment and purpose between graduate and undergraduate education, lower the quality of the graduate training, and orient the undergraduate program toward vocational rather than cultural objectives.
An encouraging and significant development for all forms of graduate education in Russian studies is the increasing percentage of students entering the graduate area programs with one year or more of previous training in the Russian language and with some prior acquaintance with the Russian area—acquired either in college or in military training programs. For example, of twenty-two students not of Russian origin who entered the graduate programs at Columbia and Harvard in 1948 and who replied to the questionnaire sent them by the Subcommittee on Review, only forty-five per cent had already had one year or more of Russian language training and only twenty-seven per cent had previously studied Russia and the Soviet Union. On the other hand, of twenty American students entering in 1955 who replied to the questionnaire, ninety per cent had previously taken Russian for one year or more and seventy per cent had undertaken prior study of the area. If, as expected, more undergraduate colleges develop course work in the Russian language and area in the years ahead, the percentage of students beginning graduate study of Russia with some grounding in the language and some acquaintance with the area should continue to rise. Thus, the next decade may see the virtual elimination of the considerable handicap under which graduate education in Russian studies has labored in the past—that of providing elementary instruction in the language and area to many of the graduate students entering this field.7 This will permit more intensive concentration in the area and in a discipline for almost all students.
Language Training. Command of the Russian language is indispensable for almost all types of graduate education in Russian studies. Both the student in the multidisciplinary area program and the student concentrating on the Russian aspect of a single discipline should have good facility in reading, speaking, and understanding Russian. For those in literature and related fields, virtually complete mastery of the language is essential. As opportunities to travel and study in the Soviet Union expand, fluency in speaking and understanding Russian takes on increasing importance.
The proposed development of special postgraduate programs for established college teachers who desire to add a general background on the area to previous disciplinary competence, and of summer workshops or institutes for secondary-school teachers and others interested in a briefer introduction to the area, raises the question of whether command of the Russian language, sometimes considered the dividing line between the specialist and the nonspecialist, should be required in these cases. This will probably have to be decided on an individual basis. College teachers undertaking fifteen months of postgraduate training in the Russian area should probably be encouraged to study the Russian language throughout this period. Others, involved in shorter programs, may or may not wish to study Russian, depending on their objectives, interests, and abilities. One difference between the situation now and that which existed in 1946 is that many excellent studies of Russia in English have been published in the last decade. The teacher who lacks a knowledge of Russian is thus less handicapped than he was ten years ago.
The graduate area programs have made considerable progress in language training during the past decade. All of the graduate programs call for proficiency in reading Russian at some stage of the training process. Two programs (Harvard and California) require at least one year of intensive Russian for admission, but exceptions are frequently made for students well qualified in other respects. Most of the other programs prefer to admit students with previous Russian language training, but also recognize that there are many able applicants from undergraduate institutions which do not offer work in the Russian language.
Of the four largest area programs (California, Columbia, Harvard, and Washington), only Harvard requires some proficiency in speaking as well as reading Russian. None demands an ability to write Russian. Proficiency in reading and speaking is sometimes tested through course work, sometimes through special written and oral examinations. In most programs, students are supposed to have acquired sufficient proficiency in reading to do research in Russian by the end of the first year and at least prior to doing seminar work in the field. In practice not many students who enter the programs with little or no Russian are equipped to do rapid research in Russian by their second year. As a result, their seminar papers and master’s essays often draw heavily on non-Russian or translated materials.
In addition to Russian, most programs require one West European language. Several advise study of another Slavic or East European language and recommend advanced work in Russian beyond the minimum requirements. Of those students replying to the Subcommittee questionnaire, however, only twelve per cent had studied another Slavic or East European language and only forty per cent had taken any advanced Russian.
The four largest programs all offer Russian language training on a variety of levels, from elementary intensive to advanced conversation and composition. Advanced language training oriented toward the subject or discipline interests of various groups of second-year students in the programs (e.g., vocabulary and materials in economics) is given only occasionally, chiefly because of the expense involved. Almost all programs utilize recently developed techniques of language teaching to some degree—intensive courses, use of informants or tutorials, early oral practice— but the restricted amount of time the student in the area program has available for language training tends to reduce the value of this approach. Language-laboratory facilities are not generally available.
Student opinion on the effectiveness of their Russian language training in the area programs was almost evenly divided. Of respondents, 55 per cent believed that their language training was good or adequate, while 45 per cent felt that it was inadequate. The chief reasons advanced for the inadequacy of language training were insufficient time and practice on the language, too heavy an emphasis in the training on reading skills with a consequent neglect of speaking ability, instruction of poor quality, and the student’s own difficulty or lack of application in language study.
Many teachers in the Russian area programs, both those offering the Russian language and those in the social sciences and humanities, also expressed the opinion that language training in the programs should be improved. They pointed out that five major problems made it difficult to provide the kind of language training that would produce students with satisfactory proficiency in Russian: the necessity of providing many beginning graduate students with elementary language instruction; lack of time for really intensive study and practice in the language when students are already carrying a full graduate course load; emphasis on reading skills for research purposes and insufficient opportunities for aural-oral instruction and practice; lack of basic language teaching aids, such as good texts and supplementary materials; and inadequate utilization of modern teaching techniques—tapes, language laboratories, film strips, and other aids—sometimes because of inadequate funds, sometimes because of a pedagogical adherence to traditional methods of instruction.
There are grounds, however, for considerable optimism in regard to language training. Progress is being made in solving all of the problems noted above. As interest in Russian studies spreads in colleges and secondary schools across the country, vigorous efforts should be made to encourage the introduction of basic instruction in the Russian language in as many institutions as possible. The increasingly accepted view that in the future the Russian language will be a generally useful tool not only for area specialists but also for scientists, government officials, and many other Americans can be utilized to support such efforts.
As instruction in the Russian language develops in the colleges and secondary schools, consideration should be given to requiring at least one year’s training in Russian as a prerequisite for graduate study of Russia. At the very least, students should be required, upon their acceptance in graduate school, to spend the summer prior to admission in intensive study of the Russian language. Such a requirement will not impose an undue burden on the student in view of the expected availability of special summer language institutes, usually with scholarship funds at hand, whose establishment is encouraged under the provisions of Title VI of the National Defense Education Act. If almost all students embarking on graduate study of Russia have some basic language preparation, language instruction at the graduate level can then be focused on intermediate and advanced work and on the development of full proficiency in Russian.
Other steps are already being taken to improve training in the Russian language. Better texts and materials are being prepared, and there is a growing realization of the importance of utilizing modern technical aids. Several area programs have developed or are developing language laboratories, and others will undoubtedly follow suit.
Most significantly, perhaps, increasing emphasis is being placed on the ability to speak and understand Russian. It is generally agreed that many students educated in the past decade were inadequately prepared in this regard. In the years ahead it would perhaps be desirable to require students to take at least one lecture and discussion course conducted in Russian. In addition, the possibility of traveling and studying in the Soviet Union furnishes an important incentive for the development of aural-oral skills; and such experiences provide the best possible method for practicing and perfecting these skills.
Disciplinary Training. Mastery of the skills of a discipline is another essential component of all patterns of graduate education in Russian studies. Every student should receive training in an academic discipline equivalent to that received by other graduate students who are not specializing in the area. If this is done, all students will have sufficient grasp of a single discipline to be able to use it as a tool of analysis in studying the problems of the Russian area. The objective of area training should be to add another skill—competence in the area—to a basic disciplinary skill, not to substitute area knowledge for disciplinary competence.
At present a number of graduate area programs do not make adequate provision for disciplinary training. Although they generally require concentration in one or more disciplines in the Russian field (e.g., in Russian and Soviet government) and recommend course work in the student’s major discipline outside the Russian field (e.g., in American government, comparative government, public administration), they grant the M. A. degree in Russian area studies, and the student seldom receives training in a discipline equivalent to that received by graduate students not in the area program. Only the program at Columbia demands the fulfillment of requirements for two degrees—an M. A. in a discipline and an area certificate. At Columbia the area student must meet exactly the same requirements for the discipline degree as any graduate student in the discipline department. It should be noted, however, that in general the definition and measurement of training in a discipline is difficult, since degree standards, particularly for the M. A., vary widely from university to university and even among departments within one university.
Those who support the idea of granting an M. A. in Russian area studies without equivalent concentration in a discipline maintain that disciplinary training is not essential at the M. A. level. It is argued that the majority of students at that level are being prepared for government service, where specialized competence in a discipline is considered less valuable than a general knowledge of the area. In this view, students who go on for the Ph. D. receive enough disciplinary work in the course of their area M. A. to ground them adequately in a discipline and to permit them rapidly to meet the departmental requirements for the Ph. D. in a discipline.
Many of the graduates of the area programs believe, however, that the amount of training in a discipline they received while acquiring an area M. A. was insufficient to prepare them for further academic work. In a few cases students with an area M. A. who wished to continue toward a Ph. D. in a discipline reportedly found it necessary virtually to begin graduate study in the discipline all over again. They had to go back and take much of the fundamental work in the discipline required of first-year graduate students in the discipline department. Even Columbia’s double requirement, both an M. A. in a discipline and an area certificate, did not provide entirely satisfactory disciplinary training, in the opinion of some graduates of that program. They claim that their twofold training was so intensive and heavy that their disciplinary work suffered. While they had to, and could just barely, meet the minimum requirements in the discipline, other graduate students in the discipline had an opportunity to master the discipline more thoroughly, taking a wider variety of courses and doing more reading and seminar work. Some graduates of Columbia who went into teaching feel that their disciplinary training was weighted heavily toward one substantive specialty (e.g., political institutions) and its application to the Russian area; as a result, they were not equipped to teach the broad general courses or the variety of courses in the discipline that are normally required of the beginning college instructor.
Almost all observers agree, however, that advanced graduate work in the Russian field should be in a discipline. The student interested in the Russian area should fulfill the same requirements for the Ph. D. in a discipline as other graduate students in the discipline department. The Ph. D. degree should be in the discipline, not in Russian area studies. Under such a program, the student emerges from his graduate preparation with a double competence—fundamental training in a discipline combined with thorough knowledge of the Russian area—and is better equipped for both research and teaching. In research he has acquired the analytical tools necessary to scholarly investigation, as well as a broad understanding of the Russian setting in which his problem is placed. In teaching he is prepared not only to offer courses dealing with the Russian aspect of his discipline but also to share in the teaching of general courses in the discipline; he is therefore more easily placed in college and university departments.
Graduate Education in Russian Area Programs. The area approach to graduate education and research has received its chief stimulus and application since World War II. The supporters of the area approach, including those in Russian studies, believe that it can make an important and unique contribution to the general goal of all scholarly endeavor in the social sciences and humanities—the advancement of knowledge concerning man’s institutions, values, and behavior. In the first place, area study is an attempt to understand a whole society by applying, and relating to each other, a variety of disciplinary analyses of that society. In the area approach, an effort is made to advance beyond single or even multidisciplinary study of a society to an integrated, interdisciplinary comprehension of its totality. In this process, it is believed, the increasing specialization and isolation of the individual disciplines in American academic life can be broken down and the essential functional unity of all knowledge can be demonstrated. From this effort, new scholarly attitudes, new insights, and new techniques can be expected to emerge.
Secondly, the area approach represents an attempt to provide information and comparative data on a number of societies, including many in the non-Western world. Much of the theoretical development of the social science and humane disciplines has been based solely on material provided by or applicable to the North Atlantic community alone. Area study, where it is concerned with nonWestern areas, can help to overcome this provincialism of American scholarship and can assist in the development of generalizations possessing greater universality.
Finally, the area approach can lead to the development of new perspectives and a deeper understanding of Western society itself. Through a recognition of cultural differences and an appreciation of diverse institutional patterns, we learn to know ourselves better.
In the case of Russia, the area approach is especially important and pertinent. As a result of its past neglect in conventional discipline study, our level of knowledge concerning this significant area is alarmingly low. Extraordinary efforts are required to overcome this deficiency. In addition, because of the uniqueness of many Russian and Soviet institutions and because of the integrated nature of Soviet society, this area is peculiarly suited to the application of the area approach.
At the same time there are some who contend that the area approach is essential for the study of a society only under certain special conditions: for example, when the area is inaccessible or when little is known about it. As we learn more about Russia, as the store of knowledge and the analytical techniques of the various disciplines as applied to the Russian area are increased and strengthened, and as access to the area improves, the need for the area approach in studying Russia will decrease, it is argued. Thus, at some future time, area study of Russia may “wither away.”
Achievements of the Postwar Decade. The growth of area studies, and particularly Russian studies, following World War II constitutes an important chapter in the annals of American graduate education. Prior to the war there were only a few scholars specializing in the Russian field. A few more completed their education during the war, and a number of students were introduced to the area through the Army Specialized Training Program and other wartime educational experiments. In 1946 little scholarly and research material on Russia was available. Only a few studies of Tsarist and Soviet society had been published, and those were predominantly in history and literature, the disciplines customarily associated with the study of Russia in American academic life. The area programs established at the end of the war had few resources in teaching and scholarship, and almost no tradition, on which to build. Centers of Russian studies had not existed before the war, and the concept of integrated study of a foreign area was largely untested.
Today, little more than a decade later, Russian studies have been transformed into a vigorous and flourishing field with an outstanding record of achievement in graduate education and research. Since 1946 two large and productive centers of Russian studies, at Columbia and at Harvard, have been established. Additional area centers have been set up at California and at Washington, and several universities have developed smaller graduate programs on the Russian area. In addition, a number of other graduate schools have provided some preparation in Russian studies through course offerings or specialization on Russia in one or more individual disciplines, and several colleges have launched undergraduate programs on the Russian area.
Between 1946 and 1956 over five hundred students completed one-or two-year M. A.’s in the Russian field. Of these, Columbia alone educated approximately 235 students who acquired double graduate degrees, an M. A. in a discipline and a certificate on the area. Almost 200 students received a single degree, an M. A. in Russian area studies; the Harvard program prepared approximately 100 of these, while the remainder were scattered among the other graduate Russian area programs throughout the country. An indeterminate but probably smaller number of students received an M. A. in a discipline with specialization in the Russian aspect of that discipline. Most of the students who acquired an M. A. in the Russian field either continued graduate study toward the Ph. D. or entered government service; a small percentage embarked on careers in journalism, radio, and private organizations interested in Russian or foreign affairs.
In the same period approximately 50 Ph. D.’s were granted to students who both specialized on Russia in a single discipline and completed a multidisciplinary area program during their training (primarily at Columbia and Harvard). Roughly 30 Ph. D.’s were granted to students who specialized on Russia in a single discipline but did not complete an area program. Another 70 or 80 individuals who began graduate study of Russia during the last ten years are still pursuing advanced work toward a Ph. D. Between 1946 and 1956 the graduate Russian area programs also educated a considerable number of government personnel, about two dozen foreign students and scholars, and a few postdoctoral scholars.
At the same time, sometimes as an integral part of the training process, sometimes separately, the graduate area programs produced a substantial body of research on Russia. Additional research in Russian studies was carried on under government contract or auspices.
In short, the past decade has witnessed a virtual revolution in Russian studies. New techniques in education have been developed and applied with considerable success. A sizable new generation of scholars, teachers, and government officials has been educated and is entering upon productive careers. A promising beginning has been made in understanding Russian and Soviet society, and much basic research on Russia has been accomplished, despite the inaccessibility of the area. Interest in Russian studies on the part of universities and colleges has grown and is still increasing.
This progress was made possible largely through the careful planning and effective cooperation of the universities and the foundations and through the devotion and skilled leadership of the senior scholars in Russian studies who initiated this development and worked unsparingly to bring it to fruition. This was a pioneering effort, requiring imagination, dedication, and much hard work. The result is a remarkable achievement, of which the institutions and men responsible and the nation as a whole may be justly proud.
Generous foundation support permitted the establishment and strengthening of several specialized centers for graduate education and research in Russian studies. In addition, the foundations financed research and publication projects, the improvement of library resources, and national fellowship programs, which helped the field to attract some of the very best of the postwar graduate students. The total foundation contribution to Russian studies amounted to several million dollars. At the same time the universities, both those which developed their programs with the help of foundation grants and those which did so entirely with their own resources, invested heavily in Russian studies. Universities bore most of the costs of instruction and also contributed substantially to library resources and fellowships and to overhead and administration expenses. The total university investment in Russian studies substantially surpassed even the sizable amount provided by the foundations. But the development of Russian studies was largely a joint enterprise and neither partner in it could have succeeded without the guidance and assistance of the other.
Of the dozen or so special graduate programs in Russian studies now in existence,8 roughly half were established during or immediately after the war. The remainder were founded in the 1950’s. The size and intensity of these programs differ considerably. The Russian Institute of Columbia University admits approximately forty new students every year and has enrolled over four hundred and fifty since the war. Harvard’s Regional Program on the Soviet Union annually admits about twenty students, and has had a total postwar enrollment of roughly one hundred and fifty. On the other hand, some programs admit only a half a dozen or fewer new students each year and have educated less than twenty individuals during the postwar period. The great majority of students have been educated in programs on the East Coast, some in programs on the West Coast, and a small number in programs in the Midwest. Other sections of the country do not have graduate Russian area programs. A few of the programs require concentrated, intensive study over two years with a work load considerably greater than that carried by the graduate student not in an area program. Others call for little more study than that required in a normal one-year M. A. program.
The programs also vary widely in their geographic and language coverage. Roughly half treat only the area of the Soviet Union and offer Russian language training primarily. The program at the University of Washington is linked closely with a Far Eastern studies program. The rest include the Russian area in general Slavic or East European studies programs, sometimes as a separate major or concentration, sometimes indistinguishably fused with study of the whole East European area. From one to several Slavic or East European languages are offered in addition to the Russian language. Few of the programs devote much attention to any of the national minority areas of the Soviet Union; if dealt with at all, this field is covered through a general survey of the nationalities or in a course on Russian colonization. Only occasionally are Ukrainian or other nonRussian languages of the U.S.S.R. taught.
Two-thirds of the programs recognize the completion of study by granting an M. A. degree in Russian area studies. Only Columbia’s Russian Institute, and the newly established programs at Indiana and Wisconsin, require that students earn a double degree, an M. A. in a discipline and a certificate in area studies. Several programs grant either an M. A. in Russian area studies or an M. A. in a discipline with Russian specialization. They do not require students to obtain both degrees, although a few individuals have done so.
Half of the programs make no provision at all for Ph. D. work. The University of California at Berkeley has offered a Ph. D. in Slavic studies in the past but no longer does so. Five or six programs guide and assist study toward a Ph. D. in a traditional discipline, with specialization and the doctoral dissertation on the Russian area. The candidate’s doctoral sponsor is usually a member of both the discipline department and the area program, but the degree is granted by the discipline department concerned, not by the program. In most cases, prior completion of the area program is recommended for Ph. D. candidates in the Russian field. In some departments at Columbia this recommendation is so strong as to be virtually a requirement, and a majority of Columbia Ph. D.’s specializing on Russia in a single discipline complete the area program in the course of their training. Elsewhere the picture is mixed: some Ph. D.’s with a Russian specialization complete the area program; some do not.
1. The above figures cover 62 per cent of all students in Russian programs at Columbia and Harvard. The remaining 38 per cent (169 students at Columbia, 57 at Harvard) came from 143 U. S. and foreign institutions. The total number of students whose institutions of origin were known was 594 (Columbia 449, Harvard 145).
2. The majority of the students entering California, Fordham, Indiana, and Notre Dame, the other programs for which figures are available, came from the “host” institutions. Since entrants from other schools were a negligible factor, figures from these programs are not included above.
3. Columbia and Harvard probably did not supply as many undergraduates to their own programs as the above figures might suggest, since graduate transfers to the Russian program from other parts of the university are included.
Universities and colleges with undergraduate programs in Russian studies, a tradition of interest in the area, or vigorous Russian specialist teachers provided the bulk of the students entering graduate Russian area programs in the postwar decade (excluding the “host” institutions of the programs, which in each case were the chief suppliers to their own programs: see Table I-1). The great majority of students beginning graduate Russian area study came from institutions in the Northeast. A surprisingly small number, however, were graduates of the small Eastern liberal arts men’s colleges, usually considered major sources of graduate and professional school students. Extremely few entering students were from universities and colleges in the South or Southwest.
Several universities, such as Michigan, Syracuse, and California, which have their own graduate programs on the area also supplied a sizable number of students to the programs at Columbia and Harvard; in each case the university has an active undergraduate program on Russia. Twelve institutions provided 37 per cent of the students admitted by Columbia and Harvard, twenty-three others another 25 per cent, and 143 American and foreign schools the remaining 38 per cent.
A total of 698 students entered the graduate programs at California, Columbia, Harvard, Indiana, and Notre Dame between 1946 and 1956 (Table I-2). Seventy-seven per cent entered as first-year graduate students or with one year or less of graduate training. Those coming into the programs with additional graduate training, graduate or professional degrees (primarily M. A.’s but a few Ph. D.’s and six LL. B.’s), or in some special status comprised 23 per cent of the total. There were 48 foreign students, making up 7 per cent of all the entrants.
a Early postwar entrants at Columbia had a markedly higher percentage of completion than later classes: e.g., for 1947-48 entrants, 70 per cent; for 1951-52 entrants, 51 per cent.
Note: Statistics were not available for the program at the University of Washington.
Of those entering the programs, 413 (59 per cent) completed them (Table I-2). Among foreign students the percentage of completion was 50 per cent. Of those completing the programs, 17 per cent could not do so in the time normally required and needed an additional semester or year to finish their work.
During the postwar decade by far the largest number of students receiving an M. A. in the Russian field either majored or were granted degrees in the related fields of political science, law, and international relations: 183, or 45 per cent of the total M. A.’s (Table I-3). This is understandable if one makes the plausible assumption that the majority of students in Russian area programs who were planning to enter government service selected international relations or government as their disciplinary fields. As might be expected, this dominance by political science-international relations did not carry over to the Ph. D. level, where these fields accounted for only 23 per cent of the total Ph. D.’s. While there are more Ph. D.’s in progress in political science and international relations, undoubtedly a number of these individuals are in government service and will not complete their degrees. History represented 28 per cent of the total number of Ph. D.’s, and language and literature, 24 per cent. Economics was not far behind, with 17 per cent of the Ph. D.’s specializing in that discipline.
The figures in Table I-3 illustrate graphically the underrepresented position in Russian studies of such disciplines as sociology, psychology, anthropology, geography, philosophy, and fine arts: only a handful of people trained, and no indication that many more are in process.
a Major discipline where M. A. was in Russian area studies.
b Includes sociology, social psychology, and cultural anthropology.
Placement. During the last decade the great majority of students from the Russian area programs, including nongraduates, recipients of the M. A., and those who went on to obtain the Ph. D., found their first positions in teaching, research (academic and government), and operational government careers related to Russian studies and Soviet affairs: 20 per cent, 25 per cent, and 27 per cent respectively (Table I-4). Total academic placement (teaching and fulltime research) and total government placement (research and operations) were almost evenly divided—33 per cent and 39 per cent, respectively—and together accounted for almost three-quarters of the students whose first positions are known. Ten per cent of the students entered careers in journalism, radio, business, law, and administration related to Russian studies. Almost one-fifth accepted positions in a wide variety of occupations not connected with Russian studies or Soviet affairs, although well over half of this group were nongraduates of the programs.
Most of those concerned with administering and teaching Russian studies believe that current placement and future employment prospects are good. No major difficulties in placement were reported by the area programs, although a small number of graduates of the programs, primarily those in academic life, indicated that they had not been able to find jobs which they considered desirable in terms of salary and opportunities to develop their specialized area and research interests. Government demand has slacked off a little from its immediate postwar high, while teaching opportunities seem to be increasing, according to most observers. During 1958 and 1959 there has been a brisk demand for teachers of the Russian language, which can be expected to continue to rise in the years ahead. A shortage of such teachers, if not already existing, is in prospect in the near future.
* Almost one-third in business, some in high-school teaching and military service, and the rest in a wide variety of jobs ranging from actor to factory worker. Over one-half in this category are nongraduates as compared to one-third or one-fourth in other groups.
Government officials estimate that the government will continue to need a slightly reduced but still substantial number of Russian area specialists for the foreseeable future, and that in the long run government demand for such persons will probably grow slowly and steadily. The view that Russian area training provides a useful background for a wide variety of positions in Washington and in the field that are not directly connected with the Soviet area is gaining increasing currency among a number of administrators and operational officials in the government.
Scholarships and Fellowships. Financial assistance to students in graduate Russian area programs was provided in four major ways during the period under review. One of the most important sources of student support was the G. I. Bill, which helped a number of students undertake graduate study of Russia after World War II and after the Korean War, but which is now available to only a few veterans. In addition, scholarships and fellowships of three types were instrumental in encouraging and assisting Russian area students: those provided from university funds, either through regular graduate awards or in special allotments to the Russian programs; those financed through foundation grants to individual Russian area programs; and those made available through national fellowship programs supported by the foundations.
During the postwar decade the largest amount of fellowship support for Russian area students stemmed from national fellowship programs: 165 awards, the majority for both maintenance and tuition. Important sources of assistance in the first half of the decade, between 1946 and 1952, were the general Advanced Graduate and First-Year Graduate Fellowship Programs in the humanities sponsored by the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) under grants from the Rockefeller Foundation. While not specifically for area studies, fellowships under these programs provided support to twenty-one students specializing on Russia in history, literature, and linguistics (Table I-5). In addition, a score or more students who entered Russian studies after the war began their study of the Russian language under the wartime Intensive Language Program of the ACLS.
Two fellowship programs specifically designed to assist students to develop competence in various foreign areas also provided major support for young specialists on Russia during the postwar years. Between 1948 and 1953 the program of Area Research Training Fellowships supervised by the Social Science Research Council under a grant from the Carnegie Corporation made thirty-one awards for late pre-doctoral study, primarily in the social sciences, to students in Russian studies. Between 1954 and 1957 the Foreign Area Training Fellowship Program of the Ford Foundation assisted 113 students and scholars in the Russian field. These fellowships were for both first- or second- year graduate study and later pre-doctoral study. Extensions to support a second or third year of fellowship study were granted in 1956 and 1957 to over forty of these Ford Fellows.
There is little doubt that without the fellowships made available through these national programs and through foundation grants to individual Russian area programs, only a limited number of postwar graduate students would have been able to assume the added burden of time and expense involved in Russian area study. Moreover, the Russian field would not have attracted as many top-flight graduate students as it did. The importance of this assistance can be gauged from the fact that 60 per cent of the students replying to the Subcommittee questionnaire received fellowship support in the course of their postwar education in Russian studies, despite the existence of the G. I. Bill. Forty per cent of the respondents were married when they began the area program and 10 per cent married while they were in it. An estimated 40 per cent of the students replying either worked part time themselves or were assisted financially by wives who worked.
a These awards were not specifically for Russian area studies, but were made to students in the Russian field between 1946 and 1952 under the Advanced Graduate and First-Year Graduate Fellowship Programs in the humanities sponsored by the American Council of Learned Societies and financed by the Rockefeller Foundation. Some of these awards were renewed for a second or third year.
b These awards were made for late pre-doctoral study, primarily in the social sciences, under the Area Research Training Fellowship Program of the Social Science Research Council. This program lasted from 1948 to 1953 and was supported by grants from the Carnegie Corporation.
c These awards were made between 1954 and 1957 under the Foreign Area Training Fellowship Program of the Ford Foundation. Awards were for both first- or second-year graduate study and later pre-doctoral study. In 1956 and 1957, over forty of these awards were extended to support a second or third year of fellowship study.
The question of scholarship and fellowship aid is, of course, a general problem facing all fields of graduate study. In Russian studies, however, it is complicated by the special demands of education in this field. Many area programs require two years of study for the M. A. degree. Full area preparation for the most promising students should embrace command of the language, multidisciplinary work on the area at the M. A. level, a Ph. D. in a discipline, participation in an interdisciplinary research seminar, and some acquaintance with another non-Western area for comparative purposes; all this may require, depending on the previous language and area preparation of the student, up to an additional year and a half of study beyond that usually necessary for a Ph. D. In addition, difficulties in acquiring and using Russian research materials, often involving travel to the few libraries holding such materials, frequently impose a further burden on the graduate student in the Russian field. If able students are to continue to be attracted to Russian studies, it is essential that they be assisted in meeting the additional costs involved in graduate education in this field.
While it is difficult to foresee their effects at this date, the graduate fellowship provisions of the National Defense Education Act and the enlargement of the National Woodrow Wilson Fellowship Program may have important implications for the fellowship problem in Russian studies and for present fellowship programs in this field.
Training of Government Personnel. In addition to the large number of their students who entered the government after graduation, between 1946 and 1956 the graduate programs in Russian studies also trained a small number of people already in government service, who were assigned to the universities for Russian area training by various government agencies. Some projects for the training of government personnel involved only language training, some both language and area study. In some cases, government personnel entered the graduate area programs as regular students, although usually for only one year of a two-year sequence; in others, government students were trained under special contract and by means of separate or supplementary curricula designed to fit their particular needs and training objectives.
The largest number of government personnel trained were from the armed forces, predominantly the Air Force and the Army. The majority of these received only, or primarily, Russian language training, generally under special contract and outside the regular language curricula of the graduate programs. This special language training was customarily intensive and concentrated in nature and often technical or specialized in substance. Two of the largest programs of this type were at Indiana and Syracuse, where Air Force personnel were given language training under special contract.
A few military personnel received both area and language training through the regular curricula of the graduate programs. In a few cases, projects which combined parts of the regular graduate program in Russian studies with specially designed language and area courses were developed to give military personnel training geared to their particular requirements. Columbia’s Russian Institute, for example, worked out a Junior Specialist Training Program for the Air Force. Selected enlisted men and officers took the first-year general courses on Russia in five disciplines required of all students at the Russian Institute; in addition, they received special intensive Russian language training, courses and lectures on the Russian area conducted in Russian by Soviet emigré scholars, and a special colloquium dealing with current Soviet problems. The idea of a few classes and lectures conducted in Russian is one that might well be borrowed for the second-year curricula of the regular graduate Russian area programs, particularly as opportunities for study in the Soviet Union develop.
Nonmilitary government personnel prepared in the graduate programs during the last ten years came primarily from the Department of State (approximately thirty-five officers), with a smaller number from other government agencies. They were customarily trained in the regular curricula of the graduate programs, but only for one year and usually with individually tailored course and seminar sequences. In some cases, part of their work was directed study and reading. Some of the nonmilitary government students, on their own initiative, earned credit toward a graduate degree. A few government personnel, both military and civilian, actually received degrees on the area or in a discipline during the course of their training.
The reaction of teachers and administrators in the graduate Russian area programs to the problem of training government personnel, especially on a contract basis, is mixed. A few maintain that government-training contracts are not only in the national interest but also permit the expansion of the graduate program and the acquisition of faculty members and of library and teaching materials which indirectly or at a later time benefit the regular program. In addition, they help to stimulate administrative and student interest in and support for the graduate program. Those who are less enthusiastic concerning government-training contracts point out that the special training usually required, even when it is supported by new funds and staff, inevitably places some additional teaching and administrative burdens on the regular faculty of the program and tends to deflect the program from its normal academic goals. Despite efforts to minimize the impact of the special training called for, teaching in the regular program may suffer and faculty research time may be reduced. Moreover, the critics say, government contracts are ephemeral; just when major effort has been expended and new staff has been hired, the project may be suddenly discontinued, leaving the program overextended and new faculty members stranded.
Some government officials believe that university training of their personnel has not been entirely satisfactory. They maintain that language training in the graduate Russian area programs is often inadequate for the purposes of government students. It is usually not intensive or rapid enough. Emphasis is on a reading command of the language, and facility in speaking and understanding Russian, an important skill for government officials, particularly those serving overseas, is insufficiently developed, according to government critics. As a result of what it believes to be the deficiencies in university language training, the Foreign Service Institute of the Department of State recently decided to provide the bulk of the Russian language training for State Department employees through its own courses and programs. Against this view must be balanced the fact that the type of language training desired by the government is very costly and can seldom be financed by the universities alone.
There is also some dissatisfaction on the part of government officials with the area training provided by the graduate programs on Russia, although less than in regard to language training. Government observers point out that most government personnel cannot be released for long enough to profit from the full two-year curriculum offered by the more intensive programs. Attending for only one year, government students may waste a good deal of time in formalities or irrelevancies and may miss a number of basic or specialized courses which are given only in alternate years or are not offered when the teachers of the courses are on leave. Furthermore, in the opinion of some government critics, area training in the graduate programs has too “academic” a slant and is too heavily research-oriented for the needs of government personnel.
Those in the government concerned with Russian area training would like to see the graduate programs offer government personnel a concentrated curriculum, providing as broad a general survey of the area as is possible in one year. In such a curriculum, emphasis would be placed on contemporary developments and on rapid analysis and evaluation of policy problems rather than on research. Although some government agencies and training officers are considering the possibility of providing area training through their own resources, most government officials would prefer to see the training of government personnel on the Russian area in the hands of the universities. Moreover, although budgetary and personnel restrictions seldom permit protracted area training for someone already in government service, government-training officers would like to see students in the graduate programs who are pointing toward a career in government acquire even more training, in language and in depth in the area, than they have in the past.
Training of Foreign Students and Scholars. Between 1946 and 1956 over two dozen foreign students were educated at the largest graduate programs in Russian studies, primarily at Columbia. Several of these were of Soviet or East European origin, having emigrated to the West during or immediately after the war. Most of this group have become or are in the process of becoming United States citizens and plan to settle in this country. Approximately six Canadians were trained, the majority of whom returned to Canada and entered academic careers. Roughly a dozen students from Western Europe, largely from Britain and France, were prepared. Half a dozen students from non-Westem countries, ranging from Indonesia to Israel, were also educated in the graduate programs on Russia.
Almost half of these foreign students were members of or destined for the diplomatic and other government services of their countries. Their own governments usually sponsored and financed their training. In addition, a number of foreign students were educated under fellowships or grants from American foundations, universities, or other private sources. A few senior foreign scholars also benefited from the graduate programs on the Russian area. Occasionally they received some formal training; more often they were associated with the programs informally in a variety of flexible ways and were engaged primarily in research or in research training.
In many cases foreign students and scholars prepared in the Russian area programs returned to their own countries to act as leading government advisors and experts on Soviet affairs or to become the only, or among the few, academic specialists concerned with the study of Russia and the Soviet Union. A challenging and urgent task for the graduate programs on Russia in the years ahead is to endeavor to attract and train more foreign students and scholars, particularly those from Asia and Africa, where, outside of Japan, Russian studies are little developed.
Postdoctoral Study. During the period under review the graduate programs at Harvard and Columbia, with special foundation support for this purpose, and the Ford Foundation Foreign Area Training Fellowship Program, provided fellowship opportunities for postdoctoral study of the Russian area to about twenty American scholars. The majority utilized this opportunity to embark on further study and research relating to the Russian area. A few scholars undertook programs designed for certain specific goals: to add Russian area competence to previous specialization in the East European or some other area; to acquire knowledge of an additional discipline in order to apply it to the Russian area; or to add Russian area competence to previously completed discipline specialization outside the Russian field.
At Columbia, postdoctoral study was encouraged through the availability of “senior fellowships.” At Harvard, it was developed by associating established scholars in various disciplines with a research center on the area. Such efforts were not always successful, but in several instances very able scholars were attracted to Russian studies, or the skills of promising young specialists on Russia were improved and extended. In the opinion of most observers, opportunities for postdoctoral training, though limited, contributed significantly to strengthening Russian studies during the postwar decade.
Problems and Opportunities of Russian Area Programs. A review of the experience of the Russian area programs in the last ten years reveals certain particularly difficult problems as well as challenging opportunities for the further development and improvement of Russian area training. Most of these issues derive from concepts and practices peculiar to area study. One of the most important is the question of multidisciplinary study of the area, its breadth and depth and the extent to which such study should be required of all students.
At present, the graduate programs on Russia vary widely in their coverage of the area, as measured by the number of disciplinary approaches to the area offered or required, and the depth of study of the area possible in each discipline. The nucleus of most programs is, quite naturally, history and literature, the disciplines which traditionally have been concerned with the area and in which Russian studies in the United States first developed. Almost all programs also include political science courses on the area, most often in government and international relations, less frequently in law, ideology, and political behavior. A majority of the programs now provide work in Soviet economics, although this is a recent development in some cases. In several programs this is still a major deficiency.
Beyond these four disciplines, the range of approaches to the area is extremely limited. Occasional course offerings in geography, sociology, philosophy, anthropology, and fine arts are scattered among several of the programs. But, in conjunction with an area program, advanced work in Russian geography can be undertaken only at Washington, Indiana, and Syracuse; in sociology, only at Harvard; and the record for the other disciplines is even less satisfactory.
In short, little progress has been made in developing an interest in Russia in those disciplines which in the past have devoted little attention to the Russian area and which the Committee on World Area Research singled out in 1947 as needing special emphasis and encouragement in Russian studies. Efforts in this regard have been made, but with limited results. This is not surprising, however, when one considers the difficulty and length of time involved in building up area study in a particular discipline. In the beginning, only a few teachers and jobs, courses and books are available; yet somehow able individuals have to be attracted to the study of the area in that discipline and prepared in both the area and the discipline. Even if this is accomplished, it still requires a decade or more before those trained begin to have an effect on the field, in terms of their research results and students, and a generation before the discipline as applied to the area becomes rooted in the academic structure. In Russian studies, a beginning has been made, particularly in geography and sociology, but only a beginning. Russian studies in the United States are still far from approaching the scope and comprehensiveness of our study of Western society.
At one time it was believed that the chief difficulty in persuading students to specialize on Russia in the disciplines that devote little attention to the study of Russian problems was the lengthy period of preparation (as a minimum, four to five years) usually required to develop competence in both the discipline and the area. This does not seem to be the case, however, since fellowship opportunities to support this kind of preparation have been made available, with disappointing results.
The root of the problem may rather be the nature of the disciplines involved. Sociology, for example, has been traditionally concerned with the study of American society or with generalized problems of social behavior. Psychology and some forms of anthropology are oriented toward study of man in the abstract. At present there seems too little realization in these disciplines of the importance of Russian and other non-Western data to the development of more universally applicable concepts and theories. In geography, cultural anthropology, and ethnography, it is customary for the scholar to apply his disciplinary skills to problems in a number of different societies and areas, rather than to specialize in any one culture or region. All of these disciplines are therefore inherently less receptive to area-oriented study than are history and literature, which have traditionally been based on area concentration, or even than political science, which is just beginning to find certain values in comparative and area study. As a result, in many of these disciplines and in their representation in university departments, little professional recognition is accorded to Russian specialization, and concentration in the Russian area is not encouraged.
Another important difficulty is that of identifying individuals interested in combining Russian area study with training in one of the disciplines that devote little attention to Russia, and giving them some reasonable expectation of employment at the conclusion of their graduate preparation. If a university or a private or governmental organization interested in employing a scholar with such a combination of skills could be found, an area program might be able to locate and educate someone willing to undertake the necessary preparation. Such an individual could be sought among graduate students beginning an area program who had not yet made a firm disciplinary commitment, or among graduate students or established scholars in the discipline who might agree to add competence in the Russian area to their disciplinary competence. This approach, while admittedly difficult, should perhaps be tried; the need to train a few scholars in the disciplines that now largely ignore Russian problems is an urgent one. Knowledge and insights from these disciplines would contribute significantly to the effort to see Russian society as a whole.
The range of disciplinary courses offered on the Russian area is only one measure of the area coverage of the graduate programs. The depth of that coverage is reflected in the number of advanced courses and seminars offered in each discipline, in addition to the general survey or introductory course. A few programs offer little beyond the general course in each discipline taught, and occasional disciplinary seminars or an “area” seminar. The majority of the programs provide at best one or two advanced courses and a seminar in most of the disciplines they offer. Study in depth, comprising several advanced courses and a seminar in as many as four disciplines, is possible in only a few programs. As noted previously, Ph. D. work in the Russian field is possible at no more than one-half of the institutions at which programs in Russian studies are located.
Still another test of the area coverage of the graduate programs in Russian studies is the number of disciplines in the area in which the student is required to take courses. Of the four largest programs, only Columbia, until recently, required a minimum of a one-term course in each of five disciplines. Washington, which formerly required work in each of three disciplines, raised its requirement to five disciplines in 1957, following additions to its faculty in several disciplines. Harvard and California require courses in any three of the disciplines they offer. In practice, the majority of students in these programs have elected all three of their disciplines in the social sciences, with the focus on history or government, and have taken little or no work in Russian literature or geography. Many of the other programs have no special requirements in regard to the number of disciplines in which courses must be taken but work out the student’s course schedule according to his background, needs, and interest. Such a procedure does not always ensure broad multidisciplinary coverage of the area for the student. Under present conditions, it is possible for a number of students, a minority but still a substantial number, to complete their study of the Russian area without work in the humanities or in geography.
There is, however, no unanimity on the number of disciplines in which course work should be required to ensure adequate multidisciplinary study. One view is that the student should be required to take a one-term course on the area in each of at least five disciplines—and in even more, if possible. Anything less leads to the weakening and eventual elimination of the multidisciplinary approach and to the emasculation of the quality of area study.
An opposing viewpoint is that it is sufficient to require work in as few as three disciplines as long as they are divided between the social sciences and the humanities and one of them is mastered thoroughly. Some individuals, on the other hand, believe that it is impossible to set precise requirements for multidisciplinary study of the area; consequently, they consider it fruitless to debate how many or which disciplines and courses should be included. In their view, all that is required is a dedication to a genuine multidisciplinary approach, which can then be applied in the light of the resources of the programs and the needs of individual students.
There is general agreement, however, that the core of a Russian area program should include history, language and literature, economics, and political science (defined broadly to include law and international relations). At the same time, other fields are thought to be of almost equal importance, and vigorous efforts to increase the representation in area programs of such disciplines as geography, sociology, philosophy, and fine arts are strongly recommended.
Interdisciplinary Study. Ideally, the area approach involves more than the application of a range of disciplines to the study of a culture; it also demands that these various disciplinary approaches be related to each other in an effort to see the society as a whole. The development of such an integrated, interdisciplinary approach to the study of Russia is one of the most important objectives of Russian area studies.
During the postwar decade the graduate programs in Russian studies endeavored to achieve this objective in a variety of ways. Almost all of them failed. The methods most commonly utilized were required sequences of related courses, “core” courses, comprehensive written or oral examinations on the area as a whole, multidisciplinary or “area” seminars, and group or coordinated research. Course sequences provide only a multidisciplinary approach; “core” courses tend toward a single or, at best, a double disciplinary outlook; comprehensive examinations are generally a series of disciplinary questions grouped together at one time and place; “area” seminars are often made up of specialized disciplinary papers and discussions presented seriatim; and group or coordinated research has proved difficult in conception and organization.
Of the four largest graduate-training programs, Harvard and Washington require special comprehensive examinations on the area. Three also attempt to achieve an interdisciplinary approach through required group or joint seminars, two of the research type (at Columbia and Washington), one of the discussion variety (at Harvard).
Only two instances were found in which progress in interdisciplinary study had reportedly been made. In both cases, those involved were advanced graduate students, young teachers, and senior scholars. Students beginning area study did not participate. This suggests that interdisciplinary study is possible only after a multidisciplinary knowledge of the area has been acquired, some command of and practice in a disciplinary skill has been developed, and some reflection and maturing of judgment has occurred.
At the University of Washington interdisciplinary study was stimulated through a coordinated research project on “Russia in Asia,” in which faculty members and predoctoral students from several disciplines participated. No attempt was made to train students to do research in disciplines other than their own, but each member of the research seminar was expected to state and define his problem in terms of its relationship to other problems and other approaches represented in the seminar. In addition, he could observe and comment on the research presentations of the other disciplines, and he had his own work criticized from various disciplinary points of view. In the process he learned a good deal about the techniques and insights of the other disciplines, and his own research was correspondingly broadened and improved. He was not told about interdisciplinary values; he actually experienced them— in the organization and criticism of his own work and by examining critically research results from other disciplines.
Several devices helped to promote interdisciplinary study at the Russian Research Center of Harvard University. Scholars and graduate students from several disciplines engaged in cooperative research, joined in discussion seminars or meetings, and, most important, according to some members of the Center, studied in close physical proximity to each other and ate lunch together regularly at the Center. As a result of these activities, the individuals concerned had frequent informal opportunities to exchange ideas and learn something of the concepts and techniques of other disciplines, thereby broadening their own approach to the area.
Part of the difficulty in developing interdisciplinary study may stem from confusion over its definition—what it is and what it can be expected to achieve. If it is defined as the mastery of more than one discipline or the ability to use other disciplines as analytical tools, this is extremely difficult and is seldom achieved. If it is defined more modestly, however, as an attempt to make the student aware of the information, insights, and approaches which other disciplines can contribute to an understanding of the area as a whole and often to individual problems in the study of Russian and Soviet society, the objecive should be within reach.
The need for an interdisciplinary approach in Russian studies rests to a considerable degree on the realization that our knowledge of Russia is still limited in comparison with that of our own Western culture. For example, students learning about West European governments bring to such a study a wide background of knowledge. They have learned much about the literature, history, and traditions of Western Europe from their undergraduate and even secondary education. In disciplines in which they may have little training, such as economics or philosophy, there are numerous well-reasoned treatises and manuals in English which will guide their studies. A number of theoretical approaches to Western society, the result of a generation or more of thought and discussion, provide them with alternative frames of reference and stimulate them to formulate their own concepts.
In the case of Russian studies, the student has no such educational background and body of information on which to draw. In many cases, his teachers have been working in the field for only a few years, and nothing comparable to the vast accumulation of knowledge about Western society is available to him. There is, of course, much to be said for interdisciplinary study even as applied to Western culture, where the compartmentalization of disciplines frequently serves as an obstacle to progress and understanding. In the study of Russia and other non-Western areas, however, it is an essential instrument for increasing our understanding of these societies. Through interdisciplinary study a frame of reference can be developed which is not based wholly on assumptions derived from Western experience and to which specialized work, otherwise isolated in its approach and results and more or less lost in the wilderness of general ignorance, can be related.
In attempting to foster an interdisciplinary point of view among students, one of the most promising approaches is through coordinated research around a common topic. Where skills and information from various disciplines are focused on related aspects of a single problem, an interdisciplinary effect is more likely to be produced. This was often the case in government research and analysis relating to Russia during the war; the outcome of scholarly conferences in recent years on continuity and change in Russian and Soviet thought and on the transformation of Russian society, and the experience of the “Russia in Asia” research project at the University of Washington, also seem to bear this out.
It is generally agreed that each student must develop an interdisciplinary outlook for himself. Nevertheless, it is possible to stimulate and assist this process in ways such as those described above. It is important, therefore, that the Russian area programs support coordinated research seminars and other projects designed to prepare the ground for the maturation of an interdisciplinary attitude in the student.
Comparative Area Study. In many respects comparative study of other areas or coordinated study of problems in more than one area is a logical extension of interdisciplinary study of a single area. During the last few years interest in inter-area study has been growing among those concerned with Russian studies. Washington, whose Russian area program is closely related to its Far Eastern program, has evolved some inter-area study techniques of promise and is in the process of developing an extension of cooperative and comparative area research. Columbia has undertaken an interesting experiment in inter-area research training. Faculty members and students specializing in foreign-policy problems in both the Russian and Far Eastern area programs meet together in one seminar to discuss research papers dealing with various aspects of Soviet-Far Eastern relations. Russian area programs associated with East European programs also possess considerable potential for the development of useful comparative study and inter-area research.
Much benefit could be derived from the sharing of information and experience among scholars concerned with the different countries of the Soviet bloc, and the development of such cooperation should be a major objective of Russian studies in the coming decade. Through coordinated research, comparative studies of analogous problems, and analyses of diplomatic, party, and economic relationships, fresh insights concerning individual areas in the Soviet orbit could be developed, and the range of knowledge concerning problems common to all socialist societies could be extended.
Much has been learned about the Russian area by comparison and contrast with the West, but this juxtaposition alone has serious dangers. One of the underlying shortcomings of Western thinking about Russia has been the assumption that Russia is following the same path of development as Western societies but is somewhat retarded and maladjusted. The possibility that Russia as a fully modernized society may be as different from the West as is its heritage has not been given sufficient consideration. One means of getting away from this Western-oriented approach to Russia is to develop the comparative study of Russian and other cultures—Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Indian. The steps in this direction that have recently been taken in universities having area programs dealing with several cultures promise to produce valuable results.
As a factor in graduate education on the Russian area, the comparative study approach requires that students take a few courses dealing with a second area and participate in research seminars that are both interdisciplinary and interarea. While comparative area studies are clearly of limited applicability at the training level—although a few exceptional students have acquired real competence on both Russia and another area in the postwar decade—they can nevertheless contribute much to the theoretical approach of the student. At the research level, there is reason to hope that comparative area studies conducted systematically over a period of time will provide a much sounder perspective for the study of any given area.
Period Coverage of Russian Area Study. Another important issue in Russian area study that has aroused much discussion is the relative emphasis that should be placed on pre-Soviet as opposed to Soviet developments. Some observers point out that prior to World War II most of the limited education and research in Russian studies dealt with the pre-1917 period, and that the Soviet Union was relatively little studied. One of the objectives of the postwar programs was to redress this balance by subjecting the Soviet period to particularly careful scrutiny. In this effort, there was no intention to neglect the study of pre-1917 Russia, which was considered indispensable to an understanding of the Soviet Union. Moreover, it is pointed out, in most of the postwar graduate programs, a number of courses and a considerable amount of research have treated Russia before the revolution.
Others concerned with Russian studies believe that, with the best of intentions, the postwar area programs could not help but be influenced by the general atmosphere current in the period of their founding and early development. In the years immediately following World War II there was an urgent national need to learn as much as possible concerning Soviet developments and to have a number of Americans competent in this area. In the opinion of some observers, the graduate area programs did their best in this situation to eschew a contemporary approach to the study of Russia and to keep a balanced emphasis between Tsarist and Soviet periods in their education and research. Nevertheless, student and public interest and the pressure of events generated an atmosphere which led to greater concentration on the Soviet period. In most programs more courses dealt with the Soviet system than with modern Russia as a whole; courses treating the earlier period were generally found only in history and literature. Consequently, the programs often tended to be oriented toward recent and even contemporary events, and many students learned relatively little about Russia’s past.
In regard to the future focus of Russian area study, there is general agreement that it is not a question of studying either the Soviet era or Russia before 1917: both must be included. Most students and scholars believe that an understanding of the Soviet Union depends to a considerable degree on a thorough knowledge of its historical, cultural, and institutional antecedents. Many also feel that the Russian area deserves serious study not only because of its present importance but because its history and civilization represent a significant part of human experience, providing perspective and comparative insights for an understanding of our own and Western European society. The question then is one of emphasis, selection, and method; in even the extended amount of time required for area training, there are only a limited number of courses and seminars the student can take. How best can his time be allocated?
Naturally, much depends on the student’s background, disciplinary interest, and objectives. This suggests the need for considerable flexibility in program requirements. Even so, there should probably be certain general goals for all students. One solution would be to retain the emphasis on the Soviet period now common to most courses in economics, political science, and sociology but to place specific responsibility for the necessary general background to this work on courses in history and literature. Such courses would be, in a sense, “core” courses, designed to provide the student with a multidisciplinary understanding of Russia’s past, including the development of political and economic institutions, social structure, and intellectual and cultural currents. These courses would be required of all students as preparation for study of the Soviet system itself.
The emphasis in such background work might well be on the period of the modernization of Russia, including the evolution of modern political institutions, industrialization, social changes, contact with the West, revolutionary movements, and intellectual developments. In such an approach comparative analysis of the emergence of Russian institutions, particularly in relation to despotism, agricultural change, social structure, and industrialization, should be included.
Field Experience and Travel. For the greater part of the postwar decade, the Soviet Union was inaccessible as a result of restrictions on travel and the exchange of persons imposed by the Soviet government. This was a major handicap for graduate education in Russian studies and forced heavy reliance on intensive and highly developed methods of area training. Although there could be no real substitute for first-hand experience in Russia, this handicap was compensated for, by dint of imagination and hard work, as effectively as circumstances permitted. In addition, a few students acquired indirect field experience by visiting Yugoslavia or working in research libraries in Finland and other parts of Europe.
In 1954-55 the Soviet government began granting visas for trips to Russia of thirty days’ duration, and the InterUniversity Committee on Travel Grants, with assistance from the foundations, helped to finance scholars in Russian and East European studies on such trips. During the succeeding three years approximately one hundred and fifty scholars visited the area for brief periods of travel and study. It is much to the credit of the graduate programs that all students replying to the Subcommitee questionnaire who had visited the Soviet Union believed that their preparation in the programs had admirably equipped them for this experience. Under the terms of the 1958 cultural-exchange agreement between the United States and Soviet governments, twenty-two American graduate students in Russian studies attended Moscow and Leningrad universities during the academic year 1958-59, and seventeen Soviet graduate students attended several American universities. It is expected that this exchange and others, such as those of undergraduate and graduate students conducted for brief periods in the summers of 1958 and 1959, will be continued and expanded in the years ahead. Exchanges of scholars and teachers may also be initiated.
The growing accessibility of the Soviet Union is one of the most encouraging prospects and important challenges for Russian studies in the United States. If it becomes possible for a substantial number of students and scholars to study and do research in the U.S.S.R., this will have a profound effect on graduate education in Russian studies. Present graduate programs and training methods are based largely on an assumption of inability to work in the area and study it directly. Curricula, readings, the intensity of the work load, language training, and the selection of research topics have all been shaped accordingly and will have to be recast in some degree if study and research in the Soviet Union become possible for any number of students.
Language training would probably benefit most immediately and directly from increased accessibility to Russia. Students would be expected to acquire a basic command of Russian before proceeding to the area, but the development of real competence and fluency, particularly in speaking and understanding Russian, would be immeasurably accelerated by immersion in the area for six months or longer. Such an opportunity would be particularly advantageous for the student of Russian literature, who must know the language not simply as a set of symbols with equivalent meanings but must have the “feel” of the language, recognizing idioms and usage, the overtones and associations of words, and differences in levels of speech.
If the Soviet Union is generally opened for study and research, the reorganization of graduate education in Russian studies will have to be considered as a general problem, involving not only language training but other broad issues: for example, the amount of preparatory work needed in the United States before going to the area, the optimum time to remain in the U.S.S.R., the accrediting by American universities of work done at Soviet institutions, and ways for coordinating and guiding research carried out in the Soviet Union. At the same time each discipline and each student will have to be considered on an individual basis. For example, the benefits to be derived from study in the U.S.S.R. will undoubtedly be smaller in ideology and politics than in literature or geography. Similarly, the background, capabilities, and interests of students will be factors in determining how experience in the area will best complement their graduate preparation.
Thus, it seems likely that study and travel in the U.S.S.R., as a part of graduate education in Russian studies, will have to be developed on a flexible basis. In some cases, a specially designed program of preparatory study combined with extended residence in the Soviet Union will prove to be most effective; in others, the graduate programs in the United States will still have to provide most of the training, followed by briefer visits to the area. Ways should also be devised to utilize the presence at American universities of Soviet students and scholars in the education of American students on Russia. In general, it is important that those directing Russian studies programs should consider imaginatively the effect that the development of contacts and exchanges with the Soviet Union may have on their present efforts in education and research.
Teaching Methods. Many observers believe that, in addition to the potentialities of growing contacts with the Soviet Union, the Russian area programs have a special opportunity and responsibility to develop modern and ground-breaking methods of graduate instruction. In this view, the programs in Russian studies, blessed with small cohesive groups of highly motivated students, all engaged in sharply defined courses of work, should undertake controlled experiments designed to test novel and unusual graduate-teaching techniques. There is now considerable dissatisfaction on the part of both students and teachers with the teaching methods used in the graduate Russian area programs. While some of the criticisms voiced are applicable to graduate education in general, others seem to be particularly pertinent to Russian area study, where intensive and difficult specialized work is being offered a small number of able students.
The chief complaints are: (1) too much of the work is given in the form of large lecture courses, both of a survey nature and even on specialized subjects—consequently, there is almost no opportunity for discussion; (2) the survey courses in the various disciplines often overlap each other and appear uncoordinated in their approach; (3) contact with and guidance from the faculty are minimal, even in seminar work; (4) little systematic help is provided in the location and use of sources and reference materials and in general research techniques; (5) the work load is often so heavy that no time is left for individual study and reflection or for other than required reading; and (6) no training or preparation for teaching is provided.
Some of the suggestions for improvement that have been made are based on the assumption, discussed earlier in the chapter, that in the future more students will enter the graduate programs with some prior knowledge of the Russian area. If this turns out to be the case, it would make possible such curricular changes as the substitution of discussion classes based on a fundamental list of readings for survey lecture courses in each discipline. It might also make feasible an increase in the number of disciplinary approaches to the area that can be encompassed in the already heavy schedule of the area student. For example, a student with considerable background study of Russian history might be able to plunge directly into special lecture courses, colloquia, or seminars in that field, with a course or discussion class in another discipline replacing the survey of Russian history he would normally be required to take. In almost every case, smaller classes, more opportunity for discussion, and closer student-faculty contact would substantially improve the instruction offered in the area programs.
Structure and Organization of Area Programs. Russian area programs, as well as general Slavic and East European programs which include the Russian area, are now organized in diverse ways. The majority take the form of an interdepartmental faculty committee, whose chairman is usually the chief adviser to students taking graduate work in the Russian area. The committee in one or two cases has its own office or seminar room and a small budget, but is more often without separate funds or a special position in the university. The chief functions of the committee are to develop and maintain liaison and cooperation with the discipline departments, to determine which departmental courses shall be included in the offerings of the program, and to establish the requirements for and certify the granting of Russian area degrees, when the program offers such degrees. The chairman and members of the committee are almost always regular members of discipline departments. The extent to which they can, individually or collectively, exert pressure on departments, departmental chairmen, and the university administration varies widely, depending on the personality and initiative of the chairman and committee members and on the particular university situation.
The programs at California and Columbia are organized as semiautonomous institutes within the university framework; at Washington the program is part of such an institute. At Washington the institute is a separate entity; at California and Columbia the institutes are related to an area study or international relations “umbrella” organization or “holding company” in the university. Several committee-organized programs are similarly related to a central body.
The institute director or chairman is usually rooted in a discipline department of the university, but part of his time is released for the administration of the institute. This time is generally paid for by the institute, occasionally by the department. Most often the institute faculty are regular members of discipline departments, paid from the departmental budgets. In a few cases, individuals on the institute staff are paid by and work for the institute alone or are shared, in time and salary, by the institute and a department. Frequently, when the institute pays for all or part of a man’s time, this is done in order to acquire an individual not otherwise obtainable because of an initial lack of interest in him on the part of the department or because of a shortage of departmental funds. Such a man, if he proves acceptable to the department and the university, is usually transferred to the departmental budget after a few years.
The institutes customarily have separate budgets and physical facilities. The budget may cover some or all of the following items: administrative time of the director, secretarial and office expenses, library support, research (acquisition of materials, research assistantships, released time from teaching for institute faculty), publications, scholarships and fellowships, and “pump-priming” to acquire new staff, as described above. In some cases, a large part of this budget is provided by foundation grants. On the other hand, the university generally bears the major costs of instruction.
There is substantial agreement on certain prerequisites for a full-fledged graduate program on the Russian area. In addition to a language program, it is considered desirable to have mature scholars primarily concerned with graduate teaching in Russian studies in at least five of the major disciplines. Most observers also believe that graduate programs, especially when they embrace research programs, should have a semiautonomous organization and budget, and formal recognition in the university catalog, while maintaining close liaison with the discipline departments and having their teaching staff based there. Even in the cases where training and research are separately organized, it is important that the training program should possess sufficient status to permit it to negotiate effectively with the discipline departments concerning new appointments, faculty research time, and other matters of mutual concern. In several institutions, both the preservation of some autonomy and the promotion of cooperation with the discipline departments have been facilitated by the existence of a central organization embracing several area programs.
It should be recognized that full-fledged Russian area programs are very costly. It is probably fair to estimate the average annual budget for a large program as approaching $150,000, including salaries, and library, research, and overhead expenses. Scholarship and general funds provided under the National Defense Education Act may be of some assistance in helping those universities with the extensive scholarly resources necessary to support full-fledged Russian area programs to meet the heavy costs involved, but some additional assistance from outside the university will also be necessary if the fullest potential of the programs in education and research is to be reached.
There is some feeling that, when Russian area programs are a part of general East European or Slavic programs, separate preparation on both Russia and Eastern Europe should be provided, and the primary area interest and responsibility of each student should be clearly defined. As long as offerings on each area in five disciplines are available, this can often be done through the setting of precise requirements for the completion of training in each area; and it does not necessarily involve the separation of the Russian and East European programs, whose close relationship may, in fact, provide certain advantages for comparative study and inter-area research. There is some danger, however, that in joint Russian-East European programs the lines of distinction between training in each area may become blurred. When this happens, the programs may well not be giving the student adequate preparation in either area. Instead, he emerges with a smattering of knowledge concerning both areas but without full competence in either.
During the last decade the various graduate programs concerned with Russia did very little to coordinate their efforts. Some cooperation on projects in the library field was developed, but in training, each program went more or less its own way. In a few cases, a program emphasized one aspect, period, or discipline in its training, but this arose by chance or historical accident, not from any conscious division of labor. When some coordination of effort did occur, it took the form of careful guidance and counseling to students. Those with special interests were advised to begin or continue their graduate education in Russian studies at other universities especially qualified to satisfy those interests. In the last few years interest in avoiding duplication of effort and in a division of labor regarding acquisitions, research, and training has been growing, certainly a hopeful sign for the future.
Library Resources. An essential function of the graduate area programs is that of fostering research. This is particularly important in a field such as Russian studies, where so many problems remain to be investigated. Participation in research projects sponsored by the area programs also provides valuable training for advanced graduate students. The central feature of a research program is a body of scholars engaged in individual or group projects. The scholars normally come both from the home institution, where they are temporarily released from all or part of their teaching duties, and from other institutions in a visiting capacity. An important aid to research, as well as to teaching, for graduate students and scholars in the Russian area programs during the last decade has been the Current Digest of the Soviet Press, sponsored by the Joint Committee on Slavic Studies, with generous foundation assistance. This weekly collection of translated articles and summaries from Soviet newspapers and journals serves not only the world of scholarship but also reaches government officials, journalists, and many others interested in Soviet affairs.
Emphasis on research can be effective only when an institution has substantial library resources. In view of the wide variety of possible research topics, it is difficult to generalize as to the library holdings that are desirable. As a rough rule of thumb, however, it seems reasonable to suggest that for research purposes a library should have Russian language holdings of not fewer than 20,000 volumes, and an annual budget of not less than $10,000 for the purchase of Russian language books.
Special Programs. Most of the issues discussed in the preceding pages relate to things the area programs did during the last ten years and to problems with which scholars and administrators in Russian studies are familiar. During the next decade the graduate programs will face new challenges and unfamiliar problems arising from the growing interest in the study of Russia in American colleges and secondary schools. To sustain and to develop this interest, more teachers knowledgeable about Russia are needed.
One way quickly to increase the supply of such teachers is for the graduate programs in Russian studies to provide special training for established college teachers who wish to add competence in the Russian area to their previously acquired disciplinary skill. There are a number of teachers in American colleges who, because of their own interest or at the request of their departments, are teaching courses dealing wholly or in part with the Russian area, although they lack formal training in Russian studies. There are also a number of teachers who are interested in the area but who have not had an opportunity either to study it or to teach it. The graduate programs in Russian studies can help to meet the needs of such individuals by developing and supervising special courses of study for them. These will have to be devised flexibly, taking account of institutional and individual needs in each case. Such programs might range from one or two summers of intensive work to fifteen months of study (two summers and an academic year). The teachers involved might take many of the basic courses offered in the regular area program, in addition to special colloquia or seminars dealing with their field of interest and with the problems of undergraduate instruction in Russian studies.9
Another type of special program of importance to the graduate Russian area programs is the summer language institute, such as those developed at Middlebury College and Indiana University. Summer language institutes provide an opportunity for students planning to embark on graduate study of the Russian area to begin or advance their language training prior to the opening of graduate school. Intermediate and advanced students also have a chance to develop greater fluency in speaking and understanding Russian. Summer language programs therefore form an important supplement to the language training provided in the regular area programs. With the encouragement offered by the National Defense Education Act, more summer language institutes should be developed in the next few years, and area students should be urged to utilize them for the development and refinement of language skills.
A special summer program combining the development of language facility with additional area training and indirect contact with the area was conducted in 1958 under the supervision of the Institute for the Study of the U.S.S.R. A summer seminar was held at its headquarters in Munich, in which graduate students and young instructors in Russian studies from a variety of countries participated. The lectures and discussion were led by émigré Soviet scholars connected with the Institute and were conducted primarily in Russian. The subject matter was selected to meet the interests of a broad range of students; at the same time the students were encouraged to initiate or continue their own research projects on the area, making use of the valuable library at the Institute. This type of program promises to be a useful addition to the supplementary resources available for graduate education in Russian studies.
Graduate Education in a Single Discipline with Specialization on Russia. Between 1946 and 1957 some students educated in Russian studies were prepared not in the multidisciplinary area programs but through traditional methods of graduate study, i.e., in a single discipline with specialization on Russia. As noted previously, during the postwar decade about thirty students attending universities with graduate Russian area programs proceeded directly to a Ph. D. in a discipline with Russian specialization, without undertaking an area program. A few students acquired Ph. D.’s through specialization on Russia in a single discipline at universities not offering graduate programs on the Russian area. In addition, an indeterminate number of students, both at universities having area programs and at other universities, received an M. A. in a discipline with Russian specialization but did not go through an area program.
During the coming decade education in Russian studies through specialization on Russia in a single discipline should grow. Students educated in this fashion will help meet the expected increased demand for undergraduate teachers in Russian studies. While these students will not receive as complete preparation as those in the area programs, and their number will undoubtedly be smaller, it is important that the objectives and standards of this pattern of education be clearly defined and maintained at the highest possible level.
Graduate education in Russian studies through work in a single discipline is in accord with certain realities in the Russian field. In the first place, a full-fledged area program requires very extensive resources in faculty, course offerings, library facilities, and funds (as noted in the preceding section, some of the requirements are mature scholars offering graduate work on Russia in at least five disciplines, annual Russian-language library acquisitions of $10,000, and a total annual budget approaching $150,000). Only a limited number of institutions have resources of this kind, and they can be developed elsewhere only slowly. Some other institutions, however, possess important resources in Russian studies; while these do not meet the above standards and are not adequate to support a complete area program, they can be utilized to provide excellent preparation on Russia in each of two or three disciplines. It is essential that these institutions undertake educational programs in Russian studies that accord with their capacities; they should not attempt to offer a type of preparation that they are not equipped to give.
Secondly, many of the approximately eighteen hundred undergraduate institutions in the country may want to add courses in the Russian field during the coming decade. The area programs alone will probably not be able to meet the demand for undergraduate teachers prepared to offer such courses. At the same time the colleges will not necessarily prefer the highly specialized graduate of the area program for such teaching positions; they will undoubtedly be equally willing to employ an individual with broad disciplinary preparation, including specialization in the Russian aspect of the discipline.
A further consideration is that a number of students may prefer a general grounding in the area, primarily in their discipline, to the highly specialized preparation called for in the full multidisciplinary area program. They may, for example, be interested primarily in the comparative aspects of the Russian data in their field. Students interested in undergraduate teaching may wish only to include in their general disciplinary preparation sufficient work on Russia to equip them to teach a comparative or special course dealing with the Russian aspect of their discipline. Other students may not want to invest the added time and effort that full area study requires.
Graduate education in Russian studies through specialization on Russia in a single discipline is, of course, less demanding than preparation in an area program. There are, however, certain basic requirements for this pattern of education in Russian studies. Students preparing themselves in this fashion should have command of the Russian language, as well as of French or German, and training in their discipline equivalent to that received by other graduate students in the discipline. They should also be advised and encouraged to take as many courses on Russia in other disciplines as possible. The extent to which they can study the Russian aspects of disciplines other than their own will depend on the availability of such courses in the university and the demands of their own programs in the major discipline. Students specializing in the Russian aspects of a single discipline should naturally do as much reading as possible on Russia in their own discipline; they should also write their dissertations on topics in the Russian field or on subjects which draw on comparative materials from the Russian experience.
As with Russian area programs, graduate education through specialization on Russia in a single discipline requires certain minimum library resources. Since students are expected to do original research in the Russian field, sufficient materials to permit this must be on hand or easily available. At the same time students should be encouraged to travel to major repositories of Russian materials outside the university to gather additional information for their dissertations. While it is not possible to set exact quantitative standards for library resources in universities offering discipline specialization on Russia, it can be stated that adequate materials for reading and research should be available in each discipline in which graduate work on Russia is given. The level of resources necessary will, of course, be somewhat lower if the institution is in the vicinity of a library with substantial holdings in the Russian field.
It is expected that the majority of students specializing on Russia in a single discipline will go into undergraduate teaching. In the colleges the bulk of their teaching will undoubtedly be in general aspects of their discipline, and they must therefore be well prepared in their disciplinary field. At the same time they will almost certainly have opportunities to use their knowledge of Russia to good advantage. They will be well prepared to inject comparative and other materials on Russia into general courses in the discipline in which they teach. They may be able to offer a comparative course in their field, in which Russian developments would play a significant role. Or, in a growing number of institutions, they will probably be asked to teach a course dealing specifically with Russia.
Whatever their exact contribution to the curriculum, it seems likely that individuals well prepared on Russia in a single discipline will also serve to stimulate general interest in Russian studies among both faculty and students. They will bring with them from graduate school enthusiasm and knowledge concerning Russia; in many instances, they will undoubtedly have a significant effect on the intellectual climate of their teaching institutions and of the surrounding community.
In addition to preparing undergraduate teachers through specialization on Russia in a single discipline, graduate schools with some resources in Russian studies can provide very useful services designed to help meet the growing demand in American communities for more knowledge about Russia and the Communist orbit. As a result of the burgeoning interest in Russian studies in secondary schools, a number of social studies teachers are anxious to learn about the Russian area; they want to provide their students with accurate information concerning the Soviet Union and Communist societies in general. Graduate institutions, in cooperation with schools of education and professional organizations in the educational field, should therefore undertake to provide educational opportunities in Russian studies for secondary-school teachers.
A variety of approaches might be tried. One would be the establishment of brief institutes or workshops on Russia and the Soviet Union. These might take the form of a series of weekend conferences, of intensive one-week sessions between semesters, or of six-week programs in the summer. Programs of this kind would be designed primarily to offer a brief survey of the Russian area to individuals who did not want to become specialists on Russia but who would like to know more about the area. Participants might include, in addition to secondary-school teachers, college students acquiring summer credits, journalists, community leaders, and curious citizens from various walks of life. Several graduate programs on the Russian area have already experimented with institutes of this type. The University of Washington has sponsored on several occasions brief institutes on Russia built around a series of lectures and discussions. The University of Michigan has offered a summer program on the Soviet Union for several years in conjunction with its regular summer school. Courses on Russia in several disciplines are given as part of the summer-school offerings; in addition, a special interdepartmental survey of Soviet problems is offered, and coordinating and advisory services are provided for those participating in the program. The interdepartmental course has been so successful that it is now being given as an undergraduate offering available in the regular academic year, as well as through the extension program of the university.
Working together with members of the school of education and with the social studies teachers themselves, graduate institutions with resources in Russian studies should also provide consulting services to the elementary and secondary schools in their regions. In addition, study materials on Russia useful for teachers and their students need to be developed and tried out. The University of Wisconsin and Michigan State University are already planning general projects to include services of this type. At Michigan State institutes and workshops are also envisaged.10 As experience with the problems of assisting secondary-school teachers interested in Russian studies develops, other approaches will undoubtedly emerge.
The success of programs of this kind will depend to a large degree on local initiative and planning. The Russian specialists in the graduate schools will need the advice and assistance of secondary-school teachers, professional educators, and others concerned with problems in public-and private-school instruction. Through such cooperation significant centers of influence for the development of Russian studies in various geographical regions of the country can be built up.
Russian Studies in General Graduate Education. Up to this point we have concentrated on the problems and opportunities confronting graduate education on Russia in those universities with Russian area programs or with considerable resources in Russian studies. This is appropriate, since the study of Russia in the coming decade will be carried on largely at such institutions. But, in fact, only a very few universities now have the resources to support a Russian area program, and perhaps a dozen are able to offer specialization on Russia at the Ph. D. level in one or more individual disciplines. Over the next decade this figure can be increased only gradually. What, then, of the many other graduate schools which are preparing secondary-school and college teachers at the M. A. and Ph. D. levels? What should their role be in developing and expanding the study of Russia in American education?
If one accepts the assumptions set forth in our earlier discussion of the growing significance of Russian studies— that the Russian language is rapidly becoming a world language in the sciences and other fields, and that every educated American should know something about Communism and the Soviet system—then it is clear that every graduate institution has an important contribution to make. The functions and responsibilities that the majority of graduate schools can undertake are more limited and less demanding than those of the few universities which possess specialized resources in Russian studies, but they are no less essential to the over-all objectives of Russian studies. Their brief treatment in this paper is a measure, not of their significance, but of their complexity.
In helping to raise the level of American knowledge and understanding regarding Russia and the Soviet orbit, the first task of the graduate schools is to make available to all graduate students, whether in the social sciences and humanities, or in the natural sciences and technical fields, adequate instruction in the Russian language as a practical research tool. In some universities and disciplines, Russian is already becoming a normal equivalent to French or German for meeting graduate language requirements.
As the following chapters suggest, there is every expectation that a rapidly growing number of American colleges and secondary schools will offer instruction in the Russian language in the decade ahead. As a result, more students will be entering graduate school with some knowledge of Russian. There will still be many, however, who either will have had no opportunity to study Russian previously, or who will only decide that they need or want to know Russian late in their undergraduate years or when they reach graduate school. For all such students, the graduate schools should make available, either through their own resources or by drawing upon the offerings of the undergraduate colleges in their universities, enough instruction in the Russian language to provide a working command of the language. This means, for the student who knows no Russian, at least a three-year sequence of study, or its equivalent in intensive courses, and requires that the university have enough teachers and course offerings to support a Russian language program of this extent. The utility of “scientific Russian” courses is a matter of some debate among language teachers themselves, and depends to a considerable degree on the way such a course is taught and on the needs and abilities of the students involved. Almost all observers agree, however, on the value of intensive language instruction, although this requires a fairly large proportion of the graduate student’s time to achieve maximum effectiveness.
A second important step for the graduate schools is to offer students in the social sciences and humanities comparative or special courses dealing with Russia in as many disciplines as possible. As more teachers are prepared in Russian studies, it should be possible to have such courses taught by instructors who have been educated in the Russian area programs or who have specialized on Russia in their discipline. Readings, however, should be primarily in English and West European languages, and a wide range of graduate students should be encouraged to take the courses. The university can do much in this way to broaden the preparation and outlook of graduate students undertaking traditional discipline study, which is now so heavily oriented toward American and West European problems.
In addition, some universities, though not in a position to offer specialization on Russia at the Ph. D. level in any discipline, should be able to develop sufficient staff educated in Russian studies and enough special or comparative courses dealing with Russia to permit graduate students to offer the Russian or Soviet aspect of their discipline as a minor field for the Ph. D. general examinations. In this way students could be encouraged and prepared to include the Russian aspect of their discipline in their general undergraduate teaching.
If every American graduate school made available instruction in the Russian language and as many as possible offered some course work on Russia, this would soon have a significant effect on American graduate education as a whole. The result would be a substantial contribution to efforts to extend the horizon of our study of the modem world and to raise the general level of American knowledge and sophistication concerning the Soviet Union and the Communist system.
1. The following universities were visited: California (Berkeley), California (Los Angeles), Chicago, Columbia, Fordham, Harvard, Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Notre Dame, Stanford, Syracuse, Texas, Washington, Wayne, and Yale.
2. Drafts of this chapter were discussed at conferences of scholars and administrators in the Russian field on December 6-7, 1957, in New York, and on March 29-30, 1958, in Berkeley, California. The chapter attempts to take account of the views expressed during these conferences and other consultations.
The authors are indebted to the deans and other university administrators, to those supervising and teaching Russian studies, and to the government officials who cooperated in the collection of material for this report. They gave generously of their time and experience, providing ideas and opinions as well as detailed information.
3. Robert B. Hall, Area Studies, SSRC Pamphlet No. 3 (New York, 1947), pp. 40-41; and Charles Wagley, Area Research and Training, SSRC Pamphlet No. 6 (New York, 1948), pp. 41-43.
4. See n. 2 of the Introduction.
5. See n. 3 of the Introduction.
6. For a fuller discussion of the role of the area programs and of the universities with more limited resources in Russian studies in encouraging and assisting the study of Russia in undergraduate and secondary education, see pp. 101-10 of this chapter, and the succeeding chapters.
7. The extent of this handicap is indicated by the fact that thirty per cent of the 202 students not of Russian origin who answered the Subcommittee questionnaire had had less than one year of previous Russian language training when they entered the graduate programs; forty per cent had not studied the area previously.
8. There are special graduate programs in Russian studies at: University of California: Center of Slavic and East European Studies
Columbia University: The Russian Institute
Fordham University: Institute of Contemporary Russian Studies
Harvard University: Regional Program on the Soviet Union
Indiana University: Russian and East European Institute
University of Michigan: Degree Program in Russian Studies
University of Minnesota: Center for International Relations and Area Studies, Subcommittee on Russia
University of Notre Dame: Studies in Soviet Policy and Eastern Europe
Syracuse University: Board of Russian Studies
University of Washington: Far Eastern and Russian Institute
Wayne State University: Committee on East European Studies
University of Wisconsin: Russian Area Studies Program
Yale University: Program of Graduate Studies—Russia
9. A fuller discussion of this and other ways in which the graduate programs on Russia can support and assist the development of Russian studies in undergraduate education will be found in the succeeding chapter, particularly pp. 144-51.
10. See Chapter 3 for further discussion of these and other ways in which the graduate schools can help to meet the demand for more study of Russia in American schools.