Regional Study Abroad Consortium Creates Opportunities in East Europe and Eurasia

The University of Pittsburgh has partnered with three Western Pennsylvania liberal arts colleges—Allegheny College, Mercyhurst University, and Westminster College—to develop the Study Abroad Consortium for East Europe and Eurasia.

The schools are working together to design a variety of programs for students to study in East Europe and Eurasia. The consortium provides students from the liberal arts colleges with opportunities to study in countries where their own study abroad offices do not offer programs and to learn languages that may not be taught at their campuses. Pitt has long permitted students from universities nationwide to participate in its study abroad programs, but the level of collaboration involved in this consortium is unprecedented for the University.

“This venture is about schools joining forces in creative ways to build new opportunities for everyone: for Pitt, our liberal arts-partner schools, and for students,” said Andy Konitzer, associate director of Pitt’s Center for Russian and East European Studies and facilitator of the consortium. “The key is to decentralize much of the decision making to consortium member schools. For instance, schools have a range of options for grades and credits that fit their school-specific curricula. We’re also working hard to promote faculty participation. Faculty from any consortium school can have a hand in shaping the curricula and a chance to lead programs.”

The consortium’s first program debuted in summer 2013 with the three-week "Life After the Fall: Ukraine and Russia After the USSR" held in St. Petersburg, Russia, and Kiev, Ukraine. Fourteen students explored the political, economic, and social developments in each country prior to and following the fall of the Soviet Union. The program was led by Sean Guillory, a postdoctoral fellow in Department of History at the University of Pittsburgh, and Ken Pinnow, associate professor, Department of History at Allegheny College.

“Having led previous study programs to the region, I was impressed by the quality of the experience that the first consortium program offered both in and outside the classroom,” said Pinnow.  “The consortium allows Allegheny College and the other members to leverage their strengths in order to create exciting new ‘study away’ opportunities for our students. Looking to the future, I see the consortium helping to build stronger ties among faculty in Western Pennsylvania, thereby creating a more vibrant community of scholars and students interested in East Europe and Eurasia.”

Pitt’s Konitzer says that the consortium intends to develop additional programs in East Europe and Eurasia and create opportunities for other liberal arts schools to join the consortium. The “Life After the Fall: Ukraine and Russia After the USSR” program will be offered again in summer 2014 program with two additional partner schools: Kyiv-Mohyla Academy in Kiev, Ukraine, and the Higher School of Economics in St. Petersburg, Russia.

The Study Abroad Consortium for East Europe and Eurasia is administered by the Study Abroad Office and Center for Russian and East European Studies, both within Pitt’s University Center for International Studies.