2013 Letter from the Director

By Scott Radnitz

radnitzWel­come to the launch of the new Elli­son Cen­ter blog for the REECAS com­mu­nity. We hope this new addi­tion to our online pres­ence will con­tribute to increased engage­ment, dis­cus­sion and aware­ness of our rich community.

Our return to cam­pus this fall comes after a sum­mer in which our region dom­i­nated the head­lines, most promi­nently Russia’s role in the Snow­den affair and diplo­macy efforts regard­ing Syria’s chem­i­cal weapons. This is unlikely to change in the com­ing year, as Latvia adopts the Euro, the US closes its last mil­i­tary base in Cen­tral Asia, Ukraine charts a course between the EU and the Russian-led cus­toms union, and of course, Sochi hosts the Win­ter Olympics. We invite you to engage with us both through events and in dis­cus­sions address­ing these devel­op­ments through­out the year on our blog and via Facebook.

As world events swirl around us, the Elli­son Cen­ter strives to fur­ther under­stand­ing of the region and engage the broad­est pos­si­ble audi­ence. This is evi­dent in some of our recent and ongo­ing endeav­ors. In April, we worked with the Ken­nan Insti­tute at the Wil­son Cen­ter to con­vene a pol­icy con­fer­ence in Wash­ing­ton, DC, on Russia’s role in the world fea­tur­ing JSIS alumni Matthew Ouimet, a senior ana­lyst at the US Depart­ment of State and Travis Sul­li­van, Vice Pres­i­dent for Strat­egy and Busi­ness Cap­ture at Boe­ing Defense, Space and Secu­rity. Over the sum­mer, the Uni­ver­sity of Wash­ing­ton hosted the inau­gural Russia-American Youth Sum­mit, an event that brought together young pro­fes­sion­als from across the US and Rus­sia to dis­cuss issues of tech­nol­ogy, com­mu­ni­ca­tion and the environment.

In the com­ing year, we are for­tu­nate to host sev­eral guests who will share their exper­tise with the cam­pus com­mu­nity. Jill Dougherty, CNN’s Moscow bureau chief from 1997–2005 will join us as the Her­bert J. Elli­son Memo­r­ial speaker on Jan­u­ary 14, 2014. Dougherty, who has engaged with lead­ers of both Rus­sia and the US, will speak on Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin, Russ­ian soft power, and the Sochi Olympics. We will be host­ing Dr. Dru Glad­ney, who will speak on China and Cen­tral Asia on Novem­ber 14; and jour­nal­ist and author Thomas de Waal, who will talk about his research on Turkish-Armenian rela­tions in the spring.

We are also cel­e­brat­ing the 20th Annual North­west Regional Con­fer­ence for Russ­ian, East Euro­pean and Cen­tral Asian Stud­ies on Sat­ur­day, April 26, 2014 at Port­land State Uni­ver­sity. This year’s con­fer­ence will focus atten­tion on the direc­tion of area stud­ies and lan­guage learn­ing, and will include a track for k-12 Russian-language edu­ca­tors in the Pacific North­west. Other devel­op­ments in our k-12 out­reach include the launch of new coun­try pro­files designed to pro­vide edu­ca­tors with brief overviews of the coun­tries from which their stu­dents orig­i­nate, a Mas­ter Teacher work­shop this spring on North Europe/Baltic secu­rity, and our annual News­pa­pers in Edu­ca­tion series with The Seat­tle Times look­ing at Asia’s chang­ing cities.

We are excited to have Dr. Volodymyr Lysenko of the Infor­ma­tion School teach a new course on cyber and infor­ma­tion secu­rity in Rus­sia and the post-Soviet space in win­ter quar­ter. This course, which is offered only at UW, will use a series of case stud­ies to exam­ine the evo­lu­tion of strate­gies, poli­cies and tac­tics of mod­ern infor­ma­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion tech­nolo­gies in the post-Soviet region.

This year we are under­tak­ing two major tasks to ensure the Elli­son Center’s long-term suc­cess and enhance its vis­i­bil­ity. We are apply­ing for con­tin­ued Title VI fund­ing from the Depart­ment of Edu­ca­tion, which is vital to con­tinue our lan­guage instruc­tion, FLAS fel­low­ships, course offer­ings, out­reach and other activ­i­ties. We are work­ing with fac­ulty and staff across cam­pus to put together the strongest pro­posal with excit­ing new ini­tia­tives for what we expect to be stiff com­pe­ti­tion for increas­ingly lim­ited resources.

As men­tioned above, in an effort to improve our role as a hub for infor­ma­tion about the REECAS com­mu­nity in the Pacific North­west, we are launch­ing a new Elli­son Cen­ter blog, fea­tur­ing fre­quent posts from our stu­dents, fac­ulty, alumni and com­mu­nity. These posts will be linked to other social media plat­forms and we encour­age you to visit and engage with us often. If you have a story to share, please con­tact our blog edi­tor, Indra Ekma­nis.

All in all, it looks to be a busy and excit­ing year, both in the region of Rus­sia, East Europe and Cen­tral Asia, and at the Elli­son Cen­ter. We hope you enjoy our new blog and numer­ous events, and please don’t hes­i­tate to con­tact us. We appre­ci­ate your feed­back and look­ing for­ward to an excit­ing year!

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