Global Student Seminar Series:
Germany & Russia
Kozmetsky Center Director Dr. Sharyl Cross established a student videoconference exchange initiative for U.S. and Russian students in collaboration with faculty of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation (MGIMO) while she was a Senior Fulbright Scholar in Moscow in 1999.
The Kozmetsky Center at St. Edward’s University is continuing this videoconferencing project with the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO) and Friedrich-Schiller University in Jena, Germany to bring students of the three universities together in regularly scheduled direct videoconference seminars (VTC) with the goal of sharing perspectives and developing better understanding of international issues. During these sessions, students from each university have the opportunity to discuss critical issues in international affairs, with sessions co-moderated by Dr. Sharyl Cross in cooperation with Dr. Igor Okunev of MGIMO and Dr. Rafael Biermann of Friedrich-Schiller University and other participating faculty at the three universities.
The first St. Edward’s University-MGIMO-Friedrich Schiller student videoconference session took place on October 30, 2014, with students discussing the conflict in Ukraine from the perspective of the United States, Germany, and Russia, to include participation of exchange students from Kyiv-Mohyla Academy hosted at the Jena location.
The second event on November 5, 2015, focused on the security, geopolitical, economic, and financial dimensions of the Greek economic crisis and the future of the European Union. Each event was preceded by a panel at St. Edward’s University with experts from leading academic and policy institutions in the United States, Europe, and Eurasia discussing the various global perspectives on the issues.
On October 25, 2016, students of the three universities gathered again to exchange perspectives after viewing the series of U.S. Presidential debates. Students discussed the American election process in an international comparative context, and the importance of the issues raised in the U.S. Presidential debates. Professor Brian Smith, specialist on American and Texas politics and Associate Dean of the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences at St. Edward’s University, Professor Tatyana Shakleina, expert on American Foreign Policy at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, and Professor Michael Dreyer, specialist in Political Theory and Comparative Politics of Friedrich-Schiller University attended and offered their thoughts on the discussion among the students. One of the major topics included assessing the impact of the internet and social media in changing the features of campaigns and elections in the United States and other nations.
On January 23, 2018, the Kozmetsky Center held the next session in the three nation series to discuss explore the impact of “Fake News” in contemporary politics and international relations.
Most recently, in December 2019, students of the three institutions met to discuss Werner Herzog’s documentary interview with President Mikhail Gorbachev (“Meeting Gorbachev”). Although this generation of students were born after 1989, the discussion spanned critical topics such as the forces contributing to German reunification, Mikhail Gorbachev’s contributions to the end of the Cold War, nuclear arms reduction, and much more. This session marked the 20 year anniversary of the establishment of the U.S.-Russia student seminar videoconferencing exchanges.