Russia and Kazakhstan - Geography Extended Study Trip - Off-Campus Study Skip Navigation

Russia and Kazakhstan

St. Petersburg, Russia
The St. Nicholas Naval Cathedral was built during the period from 1753–1762.
Moscow, Russia
A view of Red Square focusing on St. Basil's (built 1555–61).
Traditional Kazakh Meal
A view of a traditional Kazakh meal students can expect to experience while studying abroad.
Almaty, Kazakhstan
A view of the Kazakh Academy of Sciences (built 1946-1950) with a view of the Zailiisky Alatau in the background (gateway to the Tien Shan).
Astana, Kazakhstan
The view from Baiterek Monument with a view of the Ak Orda Presidential Palace (built 2004-2007).
GEOG/REST 308: Authoritarian Capital Cities of Eurasia

On-campus class followed by three weeks in Russia and Kazakhstan
Class meets for 1.5 hours per week during on-campus portion

Professors Jessica Graybill (Geography) and Ian Helfant (Russian & Eurasian Studies Program)
On-campus course: Spring 2014
Tentative travel dates: May 12 - June 3, 2014
Course credit: One credit
Informational Meetings: Thursday, October 10 from 7:00-8:00 p.m and Wednesday, October 16 from 4:00-5:00 p.m. in Ho 217


Students will be accepted from all concentrations, with preference given to REST and Geography concentrators. Secondary preference will be given to students who have completed REST and Geography coursework or other social science and humanities classes that will allow them to contribute to the knowledge basis of the class.


Why have the capital cities in some authoritarian countries changed over time? In this Extended Study to Russia and Kazakhstan, we will study one current and one former capital city in each country: Moscow and Almaty, respectively. Time spent in each city will be focused on exploring each place as a site of nation building, authoritarianism, cultural (re)production and geopolitics. We will ask questions revolving around four themes related to these cities: (1) (Re)location. Why have authoritarian rulers moved the capital cities in these two nations? (2) Geopolitics. What is the role of regional, and perhaps global, political relationships in the relocation of capitals and in urban transformation in Eurasia? (3) Authoritarianism. What is the role of authoritarianism in creating and recreating culture and urban spaces? (4) Personal discovery by ES students. What do we see around you that we consider to be related to mobility, geopolitics, authoritarianism in these cities, and how will we make sense of it in viscerally and academically, through written and visual analysis? How can digital literacy inform scholarly study, or vice versa?

The on-site component will consist of expert lectures, tours, and personal exploration of four cities in two post-socialist countries.  We will explore these urban places through expert lectures, readings, walks, photography, video, blogging and daily groups discussion.

The extended study experience will be part of a one-credit course. In the on-campus portion of the course, students will read and discuss scholarly literature related to the themes of the course and related to digital technologies. This interdisciplinary foundation will provide the groundwork for stimulating on-site work and experiences for all students.

Student Cost Estimate