Skip to main content


Focus on Russian and East European Studies

This area of focus may include classes in History, Political Science, Music, and Theatre, in addition to classes in the Slavic Department.  It provides an overview in area studies (history, politics, and culture) in Russia and Eastern Europe.  Students might choose such a major or minor to complement a thematically related major in History, Jewish Studies, Music, International Studies, Political Science, etc., or combine it with any other major or pre-professional track (e.g., pre-med, engineering, pre-law, economics). Some may choose this minor to enhance their resume with plans to pursue graduate work in areas related to Russia and/or Eastern Europe, whereas others may be interested in exploring their heritage.  All are welcome!

Russian and East European Studies is designed to give students a fundamental competence in the historical, political, and cultural achievements and events of these regions.  Students will gain insight into societal, cultural, and philosophical dynamics over several generations of altering political, social, and artistic regimes and movements.  They will become familiar with contemporary situations and culture, while developing intercultural skills.  For students interested in learning Russian, see this video created by Russian language students at Northwestern.

This area of study introduces students to one of the major cultural, intellectual and (today) economic centers of what was most recently known as the Eastern Bloc and the Soviet Union.  Literature, culture, and language courses in the Slavic department are complemented by courses in other departments with an emphasis on Russia, Jewish studies, and/or Eastern Europe.  The minor works in tandem with NU study abroad programs in Russia and other parts of former Eastern Europe (including the Czech Republic, Poland, etc.), either as preparatory work prior to study abroad or as an opportunity for further exploration afterwards.

Students will have the opportunity to explore the works, philosophies, and actions of some of the major figures in Russia/the Soviet Union and former Eastern Europe, including authors, such as Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Milan Kundera, and Czeslaw Miłosz; political leaders, such as Putin, Stalin, Lenin, Václav Havel, and Lech Wałęsa; artists, such as Miloš Forman, Andrei Tarkovsky, Kandinsky, Chagall, Chekhov, Tchaikovsky, and Mussorgsky; and others.

Classes are chosen in consultation with the Slavic Department’s Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS), who helps students create a tailor-made minor based on their particular interests.  This may include courses outside of the Slavic Department with a Russian and/or former Eastern European emphasis. Shown below is one example of classes for a minor in Russian and Eastern European Area Studies.

Sample/Suggested classes

4 courses at the 200 level:
4 courses at the 300 level: