NEH Courses


Pitt’s Center for Russian and East European Studies and the Asian Studies Center Awarded an NEH Grant for Innovative Undergraduate Courses on Water in Central Asia

What do water, Tashkent, and film have in common?  The Center for Russian and East European Studies (REES) and the Asian Studies Center (ASC) have been awarded a 2018-2021 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to strengthen interdisciplinary connections among Pitt faculty and students across the humanities, social sciences, and pre-professional programs in business and engineering. Led by REES Director Dr. Nancy Condee and Director of the World History Center Dr. Ruth Mostern, the curriculum design team will develop three new undergraduate courses with linked student engagement activities on the theme of Water in Central Asia, to be rolled out sequentially in Spring 2019 through Spring 2020.

Courses & Credentials
Historically a meeting point for peoples across Eurasia and home of the world’s largest pre-modern empire, Central Asia today is a place of geopolitical tension and struggle for access to natural resources, crucially including water, and the site of the longest war in U.S. history.

The three courses will include:

  • Central Asian Water Past: Climate Change in the Pre-industrial Era (History)
  • Central Asian Water Present: Engineering in the Industrial Post-Empire (Political Science)
  • Central Asian Water Future: Encounters in the Anthropocene (Business/Engineering)

Designed to enroll a broad disciplinary range of students, the new course cluster will enrich offerings in existing Pitt credentials offered through REESASC, the Global Studies Center and the College of Business Administration, and the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation. Students interested in counting the three courses towards these credentials should contact the academic advisors at the appropriate center.

Experiential Learning

All courses in the sequence will incorporate high-impact experiential learning activities, including mentored research projects that students will present at Pitt’s European and Eurasian Undergraduate Research Symposium, as well as virtual peer-to-peer exchanges with students at Nazarbayev University (Astana), Pitt’s partner institution in Kazakhstan. Pitt and Nazarbayev students will engage in common readings and video-conference discussions to jointly develop a case study of water problems and solutions in a Central Asian community, thus gaining practical experience with cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural communication to address real-world issues.

Curriculum Development Team:

Nancy Condee, REES Director




Ruth Mostern, Director of the World History Center




Dr. Patryk Reid, REES Postdoctoral Fellow, History




Dr. Colin Johnson, REES Postdoctoral Fellow, Political Science




Dr. John C. Camillus, Donald R. Beall Professor, Katz Graduate School of Business




Dr. David Sanchez, Research Assistant Professor, Swanson School of Engineering




Policy Statement
Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.



Co-Sponsors: This project has been made possible by the National Endowment for the Humanities: Humanities Connections Program and REES Faculty Small Grants.