Slavic and Eurasian Studies

Fulbright-Hays GPA: Siberia by Southwest 2018

“Siberia by Southwest: An Intensive, Project-Based Russian Immersion”

Online Application is now closed.

Check out the student projects here.

This federally funded program will take place via a series of evening orientation webinars in the spring, an on-site program orientation in Austin in late May and includes travel to Irkutsk (including excursions to Lake Baikal, Moscow and St. Petersburg) over the span of 10 weeks of intensive language training and project-based learning in June–August. Read more below!

•  Coursework
•  Costs
•  Program Timeline
•  About Siberia/Irkutsk
•  Projects
•  Application and Selection of Participants
•  Liability Information

Lake Baikal
Near to Irkutsk, Siberia's Lake Baikal is the oldest (25 million years) and deepest (1,700 m) lake in the world.

Program participants—educators, future educators and students pursuing careers in fields critical to US national security—will study at the Irkutsk State University in the city of Irkutsk, located on the Trans-Siberian railroad in South Central Siberia, a remote region of Russia marked by a mosaic of cultures and a breathtaking range of geographic features and ecosystems.

Funded by a U.S. Department of Education long-term Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad Advanced Overseas Intensive Language Training grant, the program is dedicated to providing US educators and students from higher education institutions across the southern and southwestern US with advanced Russian language training and an innovative disciplinary experience that will build both Russian language proficiency and professional skills.

The “Siberia by Southwest” program will provide 20 current/recent students, educators, and education administrators at the third- and fourth-year levels of language proficiency with ten weeks of advanced Russian-language and area studies training relevant to their future careers. Qualified instructors will provide intensive Russian language training in an interactive classroom environment four days a week. Student placement with Russian host families will deepen language immersion and direct engagement with the local culture.

Language learning will continue beyond the classroom through an interdisciplinary, project-based component guided by an on-site UT faculty member. Group or individual experiential learning projects will allow participants to connect their own academic or professional interests to their language and area studies training.

Participants will also explore the city and regional sites, as well as Moscow and St. Petersburg, in a number of planned excursions that will provide them with a broader picture of Russian history, culture, and contemporary issues.

“Siberia by Southwest” seeks to allow participants to play an active role in their own path to professionalization through experiential learning projects and the publication of concrete digital deliverables for future classroom and research use. The program will respond to vital regional interests through an emphasis on geography, energy, and the environment that corresponds to concerns shared by Texas, the Southwest, and Siberia.


The University of Texas at Austin will only issue credit for this program for UT Austin students who apply for it. Participants from other institutions will need to use the transcripts issued by Irkutsk State University (ISU) to transfer the credit into their own institutions, if that is possible.
Affiliated studies program code for the program: 290105

Syllabi for the coursework at ISU is available for download here. These syllabi are subject to change until the program start date.

UT Austin students: Please see Daniel Ach at UT Education Abroad if you would like to discuss how credit for this program will be issued. You will receive credit for two 3-hour upper-division Russian language courses and one 3-hour upper-division REE content course (the project based assignment).

Non-UT Austin participants: Please contact your Study Abroad Office, International Office, or Registrar to inquire as to whether credit transfer will be possible.


In order to be eligible to participate in this program all participants must:

  • be a U.S. citizen, national, or permanent resident
  • meet passport and visa requirements (costs not covered by program)—have a valid passport that does not expire before March 1, 2019 (and able to procure a Russian visa);
  • be at intermediate high, advanced or above proficiency in Russian, have had at least two years of Russian language instruction (or the equivalent)
  • be working, living or studying in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Oklahoma, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi, or Louisiana
  • commit to participating in all pre-departure, oveseas travel together with the group and follow-up activities, including submitting all mandatory program assessments and deliverables.
The program is open to students, former students (who have graduated), and professionals who are:
  • a student (junior or senior undergraduate or graduate student), K-16 educator, or educational administrator employed at or attending an educational institution currently teaching, studying, and/or working in the humanities, social sciences, foreign languages, and/or area studies


  • an individual who is/will be using the language in related subjects such as international relations or professional purposes (such as business, health, government, journalism or other professions)


There are minimal costs to participants, including:

  • Participant fee: $600
  • Visa costs: approximately $250
  • Non-UT student travel to Austin for pre-departure orientation (accommodation for one night will be provided)
  • Health insurance coverage through the UT Study Abroad Office for the duration of travel ($19/week for a total of $190), plus the cost of any required pre-departure check-ups, tests, and inoculations
  • International Student ID Card $28
  • Spending money for personal purchases, telecommunications and internet, etc.
  • Independent travel, transportation, sightseeing or meals outside of group activities

Program Timeline

Confirmed participants must commit to attending all program activities as outlined below. Participants are responsible for their own travel expenses to Austin for pre-departure orientation/departure to Russia, and from Austin after the conclusion of the overseas program.

Click here for a more detailed program schedule (overseas activities are yet to be finalized).

December 30

Applications to participate in program due

End of January

Decision notifications go out

Early February

Deadline to accept/decline offer ($600 program deposit due)

February 15

Passport sent for visa processing

~March 22 – April 26

Weekly evening webinars (1-2 hours)

~May 24

Final pre-departure webinar

May 31

Orientation in Austin*

June 1

Depart for Russia

August 12

Return to Austin


About Siberia/Irkutsk

For many Americans, the word “Siberia” evokes images of a barren landscape of Soviet prison camps, political exiles, tundra, and permafrost. This trip will dispel any such misconceptions as participants experience the natural beauty, vibrant cities, and multi-faceted cultural landscapes of the region, including everything from historical monuments and museums to Buddhist monasteries to Orthodox churches. Siberia is a borderland much like the southwestern US, with many fascinating parallels: ethnic diversity, migration and other border dynamics, energy production, and distinct ecologies.

Located on the famous Trans-Siberian railroad, Irkutsk is one of the largest cities in Siberia, with a population of 600,000. The city is safe, beautiful, walkable, and far from the globalized mega-tropolis of Moscow. There are no McDonalds or Starbucks, and English is rarely heard on the streets. Locals are friendly and welcoming to foreigners, especially Westerners.

CREEES has an extensive and well-developed network of contacts in Irkutsk and the adjacent region. Our Siberian contacts have been solidified by the research and teaching interests of a number of CREEES faculty and advanced students who specialize in Siberia, a number of whom have committed to working with “Siberia by Southwest” program leaders during the pre-departure phase.


Project groups will be formed based on topics of interest or umbrella categories, such as:

  • History – such as an event in Russian history relevant to the area, the history of Irkutsk or of Siberia, etc.
  • Culture – such as relevant religions to the area, an ethnographic study of Irkutsk, popular or local foods, Russian music/film, etc.
  • Business/Industry/Commerce – such as regional economics, local industries, conducting business culture interviews, etc.
  • Environmental Studies – such as local nature preservation efforts, regional environmental efforts, research at the limnological museum, etc.
  • Language/Education - foreign language teaching tools and methods, describing Russian/Siberian cultural artifacts, conducting recordings with native speakers, creating curriculm units for classroom use, etc.

An on-site UT faculty curriculum coordinator will mentor students in the selection, design, and execution of group projects focused on sites or phenomena related to regional geography, history, environment, and energy issues. These projects will allow participants to connect their own academic or professional interests to their language and area studies training program. Groups will be mentored through their projects at every stage and will be required to produce a digital deliverable documenting their active learning experience. Projects should demonstrate a practical plan for execution during the overseas portion of the program. The digital outcomes of these projects will be hosted on the CREEES website and circulated among institutional partners in Russian and across the southwestern US.

Participants might, for instance, interview individuals from area tourist agencies, historic preservation groups, or environmental organizations and create a series of videos with English subtitles. They might use media sources and personal observation to compare energy issues in Siberia and the southwestern United States. They might create a blog, drawn from student e-journals, written in Russian and English parallel text, describing the homestay experience or local food culture, where specialties include omul (a whitefish found only in Lake Baikal), pelmeni (dumplings usually filled with meat), and local cheese and berries. They might research and write a series of short, illustrated essays on significant events in the region’s history, such as the Decemberist revolt of 1825. They could create a video tour of the city using Russian and English.

Prior to departure, groups will be expected to have a plan in place for executing the projects fall into fields of study such as history, cultural studies, business/economics, ecology and the environment, or foreign language education. Networking, workshopping, and mentoring on these projects – including training in the relevant technology – will commence well before the trip even begins and continue throughout, as participants work with the faculty curriculum coordinator as well as peer mentors and local contacts in Irkutsk.

Application and Selection of Participants

Online applications are NOW CLOSED (deadline of December 30, 2017). 

Applicants will be selected based upon their language ability, academic performance, letters of reference, a statement of purpose, which should articulate discuss their specific interest in Siberia, a clear professional objective related to Russia and/or the Russian language, and to careers in education or fields vital to US national security, as well as a project description, which at least in general terms, will include potential ideas for a group project that can be carried out in the course of the summer in Irkutsk.

K-16 educators, administrators of programs in area studies or foreign languages, and students with junior undergraduate, senior undergraduate, or graduate student status who are currently at any public or private educational institution in Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi, or Louisiana are eligible to apply. We hope that finalists will represent a range of academic and professional interests, ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds, regional locales, and experiences. The program will be open to US citizens and permanent residents without regard to race, gender, color, age, sexual orientation, ethnic background, or physical disability.

Application materials:
Data needed for the online application form:
  • Name & biographical and contact information
  • Address of educational instution or employer
  • If a student: academic degree program, major, department, GPA, career trajectory
  • If an education professional or other: educational background, career trajectory
  • Group project topics of interest: Historical Studies, Cultural Studies, Business/Industry/Commerce, Social Science Studies, Foreign Language Translation or Pedagogy, Curriculum/Education Development or Other.
  • The names and email addresses of two (2) references:
    • At least one reference should speak to your Russian language abilities
    • At least one reference should be from an academic or professional supervisor
    • Upon submission of the application form, references will receive an email with a link, where they will go to complete the recommendation form and input any written comments they would like to include
    • References will have an extra week (until January 7th) to submit their recommendation forms for your application.
    • Applicants are responsible for giving their references ample time (several weeks!) to agree to complete and submit a recommendation form.
  • Acknowledgment of meeting passport and visa requirements: if chosen as a program participant, must have valid passport by Feb 15th, 2018 which does not expire before March 1, 2019 per Russian student visa regulations.
    • NOTE: Costs of passport and visa processing are not included in the program
  • Acknowldgement of commitment to participating in all pre-departure, oveseas travel together with the group and follow-up activities, including submitting all mandatory program assessments and deliverables.
Files to submit with your application:
Please make sure identifying information is included on all submitted files: First (middle) and last name of applicant. CREEES will not be responsible for files that are not identifiable to an applicant.
All files should be uploaded as a PDF.
  1. Personal statement – limited to one (1) page, can have single or double line spacing, no less than one inch margins, a minimum of 12 point font, uploaded as a PDF.
    • Address your interest in Russian language, how language study will aid your academic or professional career and/or research goals.
  2. Project idea description – limited to one (1) page, can have single or double line spacing, no less than one inch margins, a minimum of 12 point font, uploaded as a PDF.
    • Address your research interests in Irkutsk, what kind(s) of project ideas you would find interesting. State what kind of digital deliverable you would like to work to create.
    • Please note, projects will be conducted in groups and grades will be based on creating a digital deliverable for the course. Read more information on the project-based learning component here.
  3. Current CV or Resume – limited to two (2) pages, uploaded as a PDF.
  4. Transcript(s) – copies of most recent transcript, unofficial copies or scans accepted, uploaded as a PDF.

Enter the online application here!


We hope to actively recruit current educators and students from various disciplinary fields – who are either pursuing careers in education and in areas vital to national security – from across Texas and the Southwest, providing them with intensive and specialized language training and exposure to the unique region of Siberia.

We aim to maximize the impact of this program by concentrating our eligibility and recruiting within the state of Texas and a ring of states in the South and Southwest. By casting our net deep into the Southwest, rather than nationally, we feel that we can better serve the minority and first-generation students that are prevalent in the network of higher education institutions with whom we are partnering.

Important Liability Information

For UT Students:
No University of Texas at Austin student, faculty, or staff can be required to travel to a Restricted Region ( Any participation in travel to a Restricted Region is strictly voluntary, and the participant assumes full responsibility for all risks associated with this travel.

For Non-UT Participants:
As a condition of Participant’s involvement with or participation in the program activities, the Participant will release, waive, discharge, and agree to hold harmless The University of Texas at Austin from all liability arising out of or in conjunction with Participant’s involvement with and/or participation in the program activities of the Siberia by Southwest 2018 Study Abroad Program. Participants of the Siberia by Southwest 2018 Study Abroad programs must acknowledge that the country (Russia) in which the program activities may take place in whole or in part, or any other country through which the Participant may travel when involved with and/or participating in the program activities, or while in route to or from the program activities, may have health and safety standards substantially below those enjoyed in the United States. Participant must further acknowledge the inherent hazardous and dangerous nature of the program of activities as well as the above referenced risks of participating in the program activities or in traveling to, through or from the county/countries in which the program activities will take place, and must agree to assume all risk of illness, injury, or death from Participant’s Travel to or from the program activities and participation therein.

**Please Note**
Students from universities other than UT Austin will receive a transcript from Irkutsk State University at the end of the program, but cannot be granted academic credit by The University of Texas at Austin. UT Austin will not issue a transcript to any non-UT Austin student participating in this program. There are no exceptions. Non-UT Austin students will have to consult their university's study abroad office/registrar about receiving academic credit for this program. Participants are strongly advised to check the ability to transfer credit from the program to their home institution prior to their commitment to the program.

  •   Map
  • Department of Slavic and Eurasian Studies

    The University of Texas at Austin
    2505 University Avenue, Stop F3600
    Burdine Hall 452
    Austin, TX 78712