Past Event

Will We Ever Understand Each Other? Area Studies and Western Policy toward Russia

June 14, 2018
6:00 PM - 7:30 PM
Columbia Global Centers l Paris, 4 rue de Chevreuse, 75006

The Harriman Institute at Columbia University in collaboration with the Interdisciplinary Center for Innovative Theory and Empirics (INCITE) and Columbia’s Center for Oral History Research have recently completed an oral history project about the Harriman Institute's role in regional studies, academia, and its influence on shaping U.S. foreign policy toward the post-Soviet region. To celebrate the project, the Harriman Institute and Columbia Global Centers Paris invite you to a panel discussion about deteriorating Russian-Western relations, and the role of area studies in forming Western policy toward Russia.

At its inception, in 1946, the Russian Institute (now the Harriman Institute) was the first institute in the United States devoted to the interdisciplinary study of Russia and the Soviet Union. Back then, the concept of area studies—interdisciplinary research concentrated on one geographical area—did not yet exist. But, the desire to understand our adversaries in the aftermath of World War II resulted in a push for regional experts. The original area studies project was a collaboration between the government and the academy, and the Russian Institute was on the cutting edge.

More than seventy years later—with the rise of think tanks and the increasing presence of regional experts in government agencies—the role of area studies in the policy-making world has waned. As tensions between Russia and the West reach new lows, what role does the academy play in our current attempts to understand each other?



Peter Charow, Vice President, Russia BP

Julie Newton, Principal Investigator, University Consortium; Visiting Fellow, St. Antony’s College, Oxford Unviersity

Ronald Suny, William H. Sewell Jr. Distinguished University Professor of History at the University of Michigan, Emeritus Professor of Political Science and History at the University of Chicago, and Senior Researcher at the National Research University – Higher School of Economics in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

Moderated by Alexander Cooley, Director, Harriman Institute; Claire Tow Professor of Political Science, Barnard College


Free and Open to the Public