Skip to main content

2013 Letter from the Director

October 7, 2013

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!