50th Anniversary of the Center for Slavic and East European Studies

By Maryann Walther-Keisel

When our former graduate student Shannon McAfee wrote an article in autumn 2010 on the Center for Slavic and East European Studies (CSEES) 45th anniversary, the occasion was marked by a talk on U.S.-Russian relations by Senator Sherrod Brown, co-sponsored by what was then the John Glenn School of Public Affairs (now the John Glenn College of Public Affairs). At that time, Senator Brown spoke with optimism highlighting the advances and cooperation between the two countries since the Cold War. Now, more than five years later, those same relations have shifted again in a negative direction, once again emphasizing CSEES’ important role in providing events that educate the public and academia on our relevant geographic areas, and, through our MA program, training a new generation of experts to help the U.S. cope with current and future events.

In its half-century of growth, CSEES has evolved from a language and areas studies center focusing primarily on Russia and Eastern Europe, to include Central Asia, the Balkans and the Caucasus. The original arts and science focus has broadened to include professional programs with law, public affairs and public health, as well as the recent addition of a track geared towards military applicants. In addition to student funding through our hard-won Title VI grants, the center acquired new support through the Polish Studies Initiative and the Slovene Research Initiative, both created in the past five years. The MA program, one of fewer than 10 in the country, which started with two graduates in 1990, will boast close to 150 graduates by the end of 2016, including many Foreign Area Officers and a small group of international students.

The center’s outreach has grown as well. We work with colleges and universities across the state and Midwest, as well as secondary schools throughout Ohio that teach the Russian language and about Eastern Europe and Eurasia. Our new initiative to support community colleges and minority-serving institutions reaches from Kentucky to Alaska. CSEES has hosted the Midwest Slavic Conference, drawing hundreds of participants annually, since 2003. From a modest film library of 300 titles in 16 mm and videocassettes, we now boast more than 2,000 titles on or converted to DVD format loaned inside and outside Ohio State for research and education. Plans for the center’s future include co-sponsorship of a three-week summer National Endowment for the Humanities teacher workshop on Central Asia and organizing a 2016 alumni tour of Poland.

The Slavic Center will be celebrating this milestone spring semester 2016 with special events on campus and at the Midwest Slavic Conference. Details will be posted on our website and in our weekly email newsletter.

Increased globalization, international security issues, and decreasing funds for higher education make the Slavic Center’s resources more relevant than ever. We appreciate any and all support and plan to make the next 50 years as productive as the past. 

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