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Russia Resurgent: Four Focused Discussions (Course @ Belfast Senior College)

January 15, 2015 @ 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm EST

File photo of Russian soldiers marching during a military parade rehearsal in Red Square in Moscow

Team of Facilitators
Belfast Senior College Winterim
Afternoon Class – 1:00 – 3:00 PM
January 15 – February 5, 2015
To register, please click here.

Following the break up of the Soviet Union in 1991, the surviving Russian Federation has fallen off our radar screens as attention shifted to the Middle East and towards China. This course is designed to renew our understanding of the basics of a re-energized Russia with much of the intrigue, mystery and danger of the Cold War. Those who enjoy participating in a spirited discussion about the current issues involving Russia will be able to explore four topics: Russian People, Russian Politics, Russian Economy and Russia’s neighbors. Readings will be assigned for each topic with the quality of our discussions depending on our readership.

RUSSIA’S PEOPLE We begin our four part journey by discussing what is termed the Russian Soul. The Russian Soul has been formed by centuries of hostile invasions, wars, oppression, and suffering interspersed with some of mankind’s greatest triumphs of creativity in science and technology, literature, and art, music and dance and poetry. The Russian Soul combines an intense love of country, the Orthodox religion, soaring cultural achievements, great suffering and the lost glory of a world power.

RUSSIA’S POLITICS Our discussion will consider two aspects of contemporary Russian politics. Sympathetic observers point out that Vladimir Putin remains immensely popular and that a strong leader was needed to bring order out of the chaos of the 1990s. Critical observers stress that under Putin’s vision and leadership, Russia has become increasingly authoritarian with a loss of personal freedom. We’ll discuss levels of personal freedom and aspiration versus corruption, suppression of opposition, and curtailed media freedom as well as Russia’s relationship with the West.

RUSSIA’S ECONOMY This discussion will explore and discuss the Russian economy from three perspectives – as an economist, a foreign policy analyst, and an average Russian citizen. We will take a macro look at Russia’s economic model, Russia’s strategic trading partners and the potential future. From the point of view of an average Russian citizen, we will discuss whether the standard of living has improved, how you as a Russian might become an entrepreneur, and how you feel about the oligarchs and corruption.

RUSSIA’S NEIGHBORS This discussion will focus on Russia’s relationship with her “near abroad” neighbors: former members of the Soviet Union. Recent events in the Ukraine have led to widespread speculation as to Russia’s intentions. Is this Russia’s first step in a move to take back territory formerly part of the Soviet Union? Is the US being too passive and is the EU, dependent on Russian oil and gas, reluctant to move too aggressively for economic reasons? Will world leaders be able to influence Putin’s decisions?

The course will prepare you for this year’s Camden Conference topic: Russia Resurgent.

A team of four with backgrounds in college teaching and the corporate world will serve as facilitators for the course. Each has significant experience in leading discussion groups around controversial topics with multiple perspectives. They are all involved in a similar discussion series on Russia for the Camden Conference.


January 15, 2015
12:00 pm - 2:00 pm EST
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Hutchinson Center
80 Belmont Ave
Belfast, ME 04915 United States
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