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The U.S. Russia Foundation Grant Project

Russian Studies Program for Kansas High Schools



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Interested high school students can also sign up for a one-year, grant-funded introductory college level Russian sequence taught online through KU for to take free of charge.

Registration will start soon. Please check back for the survey to be in open in a few weeks.



Through a $220,000 grant from the U.S. Russia Foundation (USRF), the KU Department of Slavic, German, and Eurasian Studies (SGES) will provide opportunities and access to Russian Studies to Kansas High School students, primarily through the offering of free, online elementary Russian language courses.

This grant builds on a previous grant of $120,000 from the U.S. Russian Foundation from the 2021-2022 academic year, which accommodated approximately 100 high school students. Additionally, the new grant will allow for the department to offer a robust ongoing curriculum in cultural studies, illuminating Russia’s racial and ethnic diversities, as well as current political and challenges. The department hopes to use the study of Russian culture and language to inspire a new generation of Russian Studies experts at a time when such voices are sorely needed.

Participants from the first year of the grant included students from throughout Kansas, including Sedgwick, Johnson, Shawnee, Butler, Lane, Jackson, Johnson, and Wyandotte Counties among others. In this context, online study allowed students from all over the state, many of them in rural districts, to take a class together, on top of their high school curricula.

In reapplying for an additional two-year period for the grant for August 2022 - August 2024, the department will continue to teach the current high school students at a low intermediate level, as well as launch new beginning language sequences for new students. As part of the grant, the department is planning to add an interdisciplinary lecture series to provide students with opportunities to have cultural competency on the region.

"Deciphering Russia" Webinar Series "Russia Week" In-Person Workshop

The department will record approximately 20 lectures about Russian Studies, which will mostly be prepared by experts at KU, but supplemented by external experts when needed. These lectures will be uploaded to the department’s website. Topics will include:

  • The LGBTQAI+ Experience in Russia
  • Race/Ethnicity/Nationality in Russia
  • Political Systems and the Challenge of Authoritarianism in Russia
  • The Russian Empire and Colonial Efforts
  • Russia and Ukraine, History of a Conflict
  • Russian Literature as a Forum for Free Expression
  • Russian Film and Dissidence
  • Resistance to the Kremlin in Russian Music
  • Virtual tour of the St. Petersburg Museum, “Hermitage,”
  • Discussions on:
    • Russian music
    • Russian political systems
    • Russia’s female leaders
    • Russian phonetics
    • Russian and Mongol relationships
    • tensions between Russia and Ukraine
    • Pushkin’s blackness
    • and other topics




The U.S. Russia Foundation is a US-based organization with no ties to the Russian government. USRF has been considered an undesirable organization by the Russia and was expelled from Russia a few years ago. The USRF has made a statement (and taken financial action) in response to the war in Ukraine, which can be viewed on their website .



The PI for this grant is Dr. Ani Kokobobo (Associate Professor and SELL Chair), you can contact her about any aspect of this project: akokobobo@ku.edu.

The Project Manager for this grant is Wyatt Haywood (Administrative Associate, SELL), you can contact him about any aspect of this project: whaywood@ku.edu.




KU offered a two-part webinar, “Why Russia Matters,” with interdisciplinary lectures from KU faculty members and alumni. High school students received snapshots of Russian culture, literature, language, history and politics, as well as discovered the career paths stemming from Russian studies.

May 4: Why Russia Matters, 6 - 8 PM 

  • Ani Kokobobo, “Russian Language and Russian Studies in the Great Plains” 
  • Erik Scott, “Why Russia Matters in Today's World” 
  • Aric Toler, BA/MA, “What Russian Allowed Me to Do” 

May 11: Russian Mini-lesson, 6 - 7 PM

  • "Говорить по русски," Elementary Russian Mini-Lesson 


The project also hosted a “Russia Week” for five days virtually in summer 2021. Twenty high school students received a cultural introduction to contemporary Russia and Russian culture while also receiving a brief introduction of Russian language from KU instructors.

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KU’s Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies program is one of only 12 federally-funded national resource centers in the US
Only doctoral program in Slavic Languages and Literatures between the Mississippi and the West Coast
100% of graduate students in the Slavic program had funding in academic year 2012-13
KU's Libraries house over 500,000 volumes of Slavic books and electronic editions
Two of the department’s last four doctoral candidates have won a Fulbright grants to conduct dissertation research abroad