St. Basil's Cathedral and the Monument to Minin and Pozharsky

The U.S. Russia Foundation Grant

Through this grant, we are able to offer a one-year, online, introductory college level Russian sequence for high school students in the state of Kansas free of charge.

Register Your Interest

Please fill out your contact information in this brief survey to register your interest in this program. You will receive an email afterwards with instructions for applying to KU and enrolling in the course. If you are presently enrolled in RUSS 150 and would like to continue RUSS 152, you will receive an email in late November inquiring if you wish to continue.

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 (RUSS 150 and 152).

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.

Project Coordinator

Wyatt Haywood
  • Project Coordinator for Slavic, German, and Eurasian Studies
  • Assistant Director for the Max Kade Center for German-American Studies

Principal Investigator (PI)

Ani Kokobobo
  • Professor
  • Chair, Slavic, German, and Eurasian Studies
  • 19th c. Russian literature | Balkan modernism | Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Pushkin | Violence and the Body in Literature

Previous Events


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.