Economy, Technology, and People

Russia Today
Friday, October 24, 2014 to Sunday, October 26, 2014

Russia Today

Russia Today is a one-credit (Pitt)/ three-unit (CMU) mini course, consisting of 14 hours of classes over a weekend, with a major paper assignment to be completed for credit. This course is created for undergraduate and graduate students. However, K-12 educators, business and community members are welcome to attend all or sections of the course for free. The course will open with two keynote lectures on Friday evening on an overview of the issues. This will be followed by instructional lectures on Saturday on the various themes by experts in the fields.  Sunday morning will be a discussion of two case studies and a panel discussion by the speakers on future challenges and some possible projections/ recommendations.

As global citizens, students need to have a working knowledge of other countries, which are important in shaping the corporate, social and political world. As a rising state in the world economy, Russia’s status in the business and in world affairs is shifting.

Course Learning Outcomes:
At the end of the course, the students will:

  1. Have a general understanding of the corporate, geo-political, cultural and social factors that define Russia’s economic, cultural and technological landscape at the present time.
  2. Explore one of these factors in depth, through the research paper.

Faculty presenters:
Please visit the Speakers and Abstract tab 

Wegren, S.K. (Ed.). (2012). Return to Putin's Russia: Past imperfect, future uncertain.  Plymouth, UK: Rowman & Littlefield Pub Inc. Book will be available in the Pitt Book Center and Carnegie Melon University Bookstore. 

This short course will explore how various intersections of economy, society, and identity interact in Russia and in the perceived position of Russia as an emerging world economy. It will explore questions such as:

  • How does Russia's history and diversity reflect in the policies and the economy of Russia? In the way Russians react with the market?
  • What are today’s challenges in attaining equity in quality of life in Russia? What are some of its greatest needs?
  • What are impediments to Russia’s economic and business growth?
  • What are some of the salient features of the U.S.-Russian relations?
  • How have cultural traditions and modernizations integrated in Russia? What have been some cultural responses to globalization?
  • What lies ahead? What are the opportunities and challenges in Russia’s immediate future?

Due to the immersive nature of the course, students are expected to attend all sessions on all three days. Further, each student will be required to read the assigned book and develop a research paper on one dimension of modern Russia that has been introduced in class. The paper should be based on one of the topics covered in the course. The length of the term paper will be 5-10 pages, double spaced in 11 point font. Research papers are due by November 21 at 5:00pm and should be submitted through Carnegie Mellon's Blackboard or University of Pittsburgh’s Courseweb assignment tab for the course.

Sample topics for term papers include:

  • Historical factors in the development of Russia’s market economy
  • Factors that encourage or retard technological innovation in Russia
  • The role of education in making Russia a world power
  • Financing innovation in Russia: foreign, multinational, and Russian enterprises
  • Education and innovation in Russia
  • Ethnicity and educational opportunity
  • Russia’s economy—communist, socialist, capitalist, or something else?
  • Global forces impacting the Russian economy
  • Global forces impacting the Russian education system

Audit Option:
Carnegie Mellon students may also audit the course by attending all the sessions, but not writing the paper. You should be sure to process an audit form, both if you are auditing from the beginning or later if you have decided not to do a paper and want your status changed from credit to audit. Pitt students may also audit but students must choose this option before the beginning of the course and it will not appear on your transcript as having taken the course. Once the course has started students will be graded based on how they signed up for the course.

The paper is not a book or chapter review, but an overall analysis that demonstrates your reading and thinking on the subject. First articulate an organizing question that you will attempt to answer, and proceed from there to find sources. The organizing question has to be an exploration on one of the issues or aspects addressed by one or several speakers in the course. As this is a generalist course, we don’t expect a detailed economic or political analysis, but a thorough literature review on the topic and your synthesis of these readings to answer the question with a critical perspective.

Instructors (responsible for grades and class organization): 
Professor Amy Burkert ( is responsible for grades at Carnegie Mellon University, Andrew Konitzer ( and Veronica Dristas ( at the University of Pittsburgh, respectively. Please send an e-mail to us individually if you have questions regarding grades.

Sponsored by: 
University of Pittsburgh: Global Studies CenterCenter for Russian and East European StudiesDepartment of Economics, Katz Graduate School of Business, the Swanson School of EngineeringInternational Business Center, and College of Business AdministrationCarnegie Mellon University: H. John Heinz III College, Office of the Provost, Division of Student Affairs 

Harley Balzer

Recommended Readings:

  • Crotty, Jo, Sarah Marie Hall and Sergei Liubownikow, “Post-Soviet Civil Society Development in the Russian Federation: The Impact of the NGO Law,” Europe-Asia Studies, Vol. 96 No. 8, October 2014, pp. 1253-69.
  • Ferdinand, Peter, “Russia and China: Converging Responses to Globalization,” International Affairs, Vol. 83, No. 4 (2007), pp. 655-80.
  • Rutland, Peter, “Post-Socialist States and  the  Evolution  of  a New Development Model: Russia and  China Compared,” Paper presented at International Seminar on Globalizaion and Eurasia, Jawaharl Nehru University, New Delhi, 9-12 November 2008.
  • Dunn, Elizabeth C. and Michael S. Bobick, "The Empire Strikes Back: War without War and Occupation without Occupation in the Russian Sphere of Inflence,” American Ethnologist, Vol. 41, No. 3, August 2014, pp. 405-413
  • Balzer, Harley and Jon Askonas, “Innovation in Russia and China Compared,” forthcoming in Russian Analytical Digest, 2014.

Boris Barkanov

Recommended Readings:

  • Olcott, Martha Brill, "Vladimir Putin and the Geopolitics of Oil," JAMES A. BAKER III INSTITUTE FOR PUBLIC POLICY
  • Sussex, Matheew, "Strategic Security and Russian Resource Diplomacy," in  Russia and its Near Neighbours, eds. Freire, Maria Raquel andKanet, Roger E., Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.
  • Abdelal, Rawi. "The Profits of Power: Commerce and Realpolitik in Eurasia." Review of International Political Economy 20, no. 3 (June 2013): 421–456. (available on JSTOR)

David Greene 

Jonathan Harris

Recommended Readings:

  • Stephen WhiteUnderstanding Russian Politics, (2011) Chapters 1-3.

Thomas F. Remington 

Recommended Readings:

Andrei Tsygankov

Recommended Readings:

Judy Twigg

Recommended Readings:

Stephen Wegren

Recommended Readings:

  • Wegren, S.K. (Ed.). (2012). Return to Putin's Russia: Past imperfect, future uncertain.  Plymouth, UK: Rowman & Littlefield Pub Inc. 

Barry Ickes

Recommended Readings: