10 Reasons to Study Russian at Notre Dame

Ten Reasons to Study Russian*


1.         Government Employment: The US Government needs more Russian-language specialists: Federal agencies have identified Russian as a priority language of national need. Among the agencies that seek expertise in Russian: the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, Department of Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Human Development, Department of Labor, and Department of the Interior. The FCC, ITC, FBI, CIA, NSA, and State Department have also identified Russian as a priority language.

2.         Politics and the Economy: Russia is a regional power and is once again becoming a major force on the world stage. Russia has associations with the former Soviet republics of Central Asia, such as a customs union and collective security treaty organization. Key Russian politicians are proposing a "Eurasian Union" embracing these states, strategically encompassing the economic and security spheres. This prospectively boosts Russian economic, foreign policy, and military influence in the region. Russia also defends its traditional influences in the non-aligned and developing world and continues to prioritize the modernization of defense. NASA depends on the Russian Space Agency to transport astronauts to the International Space Station. Finally, Russia's resource-based economy has emerged from the global crisis relatively unscathed. Energy industry analysts suggest that up to 50% of Europe's natural gas could be controlled by Russia by 2030.

3.       The Economy and Entrepreneurship: Speak Russian to engage in the Russian economy. Russia is one of the largest producers, if not the largest producer, of numerous natural resources and raw materials including petroleum, diamonds, gold, copper, manganese, uranium, silver, graphite, and platinum. Russia is the second largest steel producer in the world after Japan, and has an enormous timber reserve. It is the world’s largest producer of natural gas, third largest producer of oil, and fourth largest in terms of mining coal. Russia has an estimated 40% of the total world reserves of natural gas. Russia’s proven oil reserves are second only to Saudi Arabia’s, and it is the top oil producer in the world. Russia is an enormous market for US goods and services. With Russian language skills, you can work with American businesses participating in this successful market.

4.         Science and Technology: Russian is an important language for science and technology. According to a recent study, the number of publications in the sciences is highest for English with Russian second. This is the case for chemistry, physics, geology, mathematics, and biological sciences. Russia always has had a rich tradition in the sciences, from Mendeleev to recent Fields medalists in mathematics. The Soviet tradition of creating scientific towns and scholarly communities is giving way to a system of entrepreneurship backed by state agencies and private-sector start-ups. Innovations in computer programming, software engineering, and information technology are coming out of Russian government agencies and private firms.

5.        The Language: Russian is spoken by hundreds of millions of people. The Russian Federation spans nine time zones and covers about 1/8th of the world’s land surface. It is the largest country in the world, almost twice the size of the United States. Russia has a population of almost 150 million people, which constitutes slightly more than 50% of the population of the former Soviet Union. There are around 270 million Russian speakers in the world.

6.        Culture: Russia is home to some of the world’s finest traditions in the arts. Ballet, theater, cinema, literature, music, and visual arts are only a few of the areas in which Russians have established great traditions and continue to produce remarkable innovators. From George Balanchine to Mikhail Baryshnikov, Sergei Eisenstein to Andrei Tarkovsky, Anton Chekhov to Constantine Stanislavsky, Fyodor Dostoevsky to Vladimir Sorokin, Shostakovich to Khvorostovsky… Russians produce great art! And knowing Russian will enrich the way you see the world.

7.       Academics: Russian combines well with many other disciplines: political science or history and Russian, English and Russian, economics and Russian, business and Russian, science and Russian, another foreign language and Russian, engineering and Russian, mathematics and Russian, music and Russian. Russian provides you with opportunities your non-Russian studying classmates don’t have. For instance, a student majoring in biology and Russian can go to Russia to study fresh water ecology in Lake Baikal.

8.        Post-Graduate Study: Students who study Russian have a high rate of acceptance to graduate schools and professional programs (for example, law school, business school, and medical school).

9.             Careers:  Our former students of Russian are now working or have worked at banks operating in international markets, in the Peace Corps, in major accounting firms (in Russia and the US), in large and small law firms, as a journalist in Moscow, as teachers of English in Russia, and for the American Council of Teachers of Russian.

10.        Building for Success: Graduates of our program have received Fulbright Awards and internships with the US State Department in Moscow and the FBI in Washington, DC; conducted research in Russia for their senior theses; served with the Peace Corps; and entered graduate programs at prestigious universities (Columbia, Georgetown, NYU, UC-Berkeley, UCLA, and the University of Wisconsin, among others). Take Russian at Notre Dame and be our next success story!

*Adapted from the Website of the Florida State University Program in Slavic Languages