Russian Studies

Russian is both an official language of the UN and one of the world’s most commonly spoken languages. It has been designated a “critical language” by the U.S. government, and has been identified as a repository language for world knowledge. Russian is widely used across much of the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, and is appearing increasingly in major cities in Western Europe and the U.S. Russian is the language of some of the world’s greatest writers, composers, artists, performers, and scientists. 

Contrary to popular belief, Russian is not difficult to learn—Rhodes Russian students and graduates provide living proof of that fact. They enjoy a variety of interdisciplinary courses (some taught in English translation) in Russian language, literature, culture, music, religious philosophy, and linguistics. Approximately 60% of Rhodes graduates with a Russian Studies major or minor attend top graduate schools in a discipline related to Russian. In recent years Rhodes Russian Studies graduates have earned advanced degrees in Russian language and literature, International Studies, Slavic folklore, Business, Physics, and Law.

Rhodes offers a Russian Studies major and minor and Russian Studies – IS bridge major. Students can participate in the Maymester in St. Petersburg, Russia (mid-May – mid-June of every year), Semester and Year Study-Abroad at Novgorod State University (Novgorod) and the Smolny Institute (St. Petersburg), the Rhodes Chapter of the National Slavic Honor Society (Dobro Slovo), and the Russian Club.

Russian Club

Constitution of the Rhodes College Russian Club

Article I. Name of the Organization

The name of this organization shall be the Русский клуб/Russkii Club of Rhodes College.

Article II. Purposes

The purposes of this organization are as follows:

  • To promote further understanding of the languages, culture, and peoples of the Russian Federation through discussions, presentations, and social gatherings.
  • To strengthen the fluency of the Russian-speaking members through activities.

Article III. Membership in the Organization

  • Membership shall be extended to any student of Rhodes College having an interest in Russian culture. 
  • Honorary members (including faculty and staff) will be invited after a majority vote of the club.
  • All active members shall be required to pay dues of ten dollars per year.
  • Members shall not miss two consecutive meetings without prior excuse from the Secretary/Minister of Finance.  Voting rights will be suspended upon the first offense; further offenses will be fined ten dollars.

Article IV. Leadership and Committees

Section 1
The faculty advisor shall be chosen from the ranks of the Rhodes College faculty.

Section 2   President
The duties of the President are as follows:

  • Shall preside over all meetings
  • Shall head the Program Committee responsible for the selection and  coordination of presentations and events
  • Shall act as liaison between the club and the Faculty Advisor

Section 3  Vice-President
The duties of the Vice-President are as follows:

  • Shall preside over meeting in the absence of the President
  • Shall head the social committee responsible for all social events of the club

Section 4   Minister of Finance/Secretary
The duties of the Minister of Finance/Secretary are as follows:

  • Shall collect dues and fines.
  • Shall head the Fund Raising Committee
  • Shall distribute funds where needed
  • Shall manage the club accounts
  • Shall be responsible for all correspondence of the club
  • Shall take the minutes of the meetings of the club and executive committee

Section 5   Minister of Propaganda
The duties of the Minister of Propaganda are as follows:

Shall head the Publicity Committee, responsible for notices of the club’s meetings and events.

Section 6   Committees  
The President shall call for new committees as the need arises.

Article V. Meetings

  • Meetings shall be held one or twice a month based on need at the designated time and place.
  • The Executive Committee shall meet once a month and shall be responsible for preparing the budget at the first executive meeting of the year.

Article VI. Elections

  • Elections shall be held at the second April meeting of each year.
  • Membership to particular committees shall be voluntary with even distribution being kept in mind. Each member shall belong to at least one committee.
  • Honorary members shall not vote.
  • In the event that any officer is unable to discharge his duties, a new election shall be called to fill the office. Any of the present officers may run.
  • A quorum for voting shall consist of two-thirds of the membership.

Article VII. Amendments

  • Proposed amendments must be seconded and approved by a two-thirds vote of the club and will be added upon approval by the President of the College. 
  • The Constitution of the Russkii Club was adopted y the membership in September, 2004. 

Dobro Slovo
Dobro Slovo is the National Slavic Honor Society that serves as a means for the recognition of academic excellence in the study of Slavic languages, literature, history and culture. There are over 130 local chapters nationwide with a total membership of over 6,000. 

Study Abroad
The Summer Intensive Study Program in Russia offers three and a half weeks of courses in Russian Language (taught in Russian at all levels), several excursions in the city, with an opera and/or ballet performances; and a trip to Novgorod. Students live in two-room suites in a students’ dormitory. Rooms are furnished and have a separate bathroom. Transportation to school and scheduled events is provided by the host institution.

May is a fascinating month in the city of St. Petersburg. A celebration of the city’s anniversary takes place, which features an international band parade down Nevsky Avenue, an orchestral concert and ball on Palace Square in front of the Hermitage, and fireworks on the banks of the Neva River. In addition, the city’s famous White Nights develop during this time, reaching their peak in mid-June.

The host institution, the Gornyi Institute of St. Petersburg, has a venerable history: it was founded in 1773 by Catherine the Great. It represents one of only three Russian universities that have been declared a “national treasure” by the Russian government. The Gornyi Institute is well-known in the Russian departments in the U.S., for it offers excellent facilities for the instruction of Russian and attracts the finest teachers of Russian from all over the world.

More information about study abroad programs is available at the Buckman Center for International Education.

 If you are interested, contact Prof. Alexandra Kostina at or x3991. 

Students Comment on Their Experiences
“For me, Summer Intensive Study Program in Russia provided many new and enjoyable experiences. I loved sitting underneath the Baltika tent with my fellow classmates, devouring shashlik while enjoying the beautiful nighttime view of the Gulf of Finland. … While touring the exquisite rooms of the Hermitage, I viewed original works from Da Vinci, Rembrandt and Picasso. My first visit to the circus was in Moscow and my hands ached afterward from gripping my seat in nervous anticipation when the acrobats swung precariously from trapezes. Participating in the Russia Maymester was extraordinary and I hope that someday I will be able to return to the “motherland” once again!” Jera Bradshaw (Summer Intensive Study Program, 2004)

“Although the St. Petersburg weather was less than desirable, I had an incredibly enriching experience. … I feel that the program gave the invaluable ability of practicing my language … in an immersed environment. From attending language and politics classes to going on an epic quest for five-ruble coins to befriending young Russians in a bar/tent, Summer Intensive Study gave each of us the experience of interacting with Russian society and culture. … I laughed with two young filmmakers at two in the morning outside Red Square.  I made a new friend with a published Russian poet on a train to Moscow.  I smiled as a postal worker referred to me as “comrade.”  I only wish that I could have spent more time there, and I intend to in the future.” Logan Wheeler (Summer Intensive Study Program, 2004)

Six Rhodes students participated in the Russian Maymester in St. Petersburg in the summer of 2008, three in the summer of 2009. They took classes in the Russian language and literature, enjoyed sightseeing, two ballet performances, numerous museum visits, and a trip to Novgorod.  Here are some pictures. If you are interested, contact Prof. Alexandra Kostina at or x3991.