Slavic and Eurasian Studies

Maymester: Environmental Studies in Siberia

Led by Dr. Evgenia Wilkins

Information Session

January 26th at 7pm CST


About the Program

This course takes an interdisciplinary approach to the environment and explores environmental themes by blending historical, geographical and cultural aspects of its treatment through time. Russia, as the largest country on the planet and bordering 14 countries, has a disproportionate impact on the global environment. This course allows students to understand how environmental trends have and will continue to define how Russians think, treat, exploit and preserve their land, water, and natural resources. 

Our host city is Irkutsk, in the heart of Siberia. Roughly a midpoint on the Trans-Siberian railway, the city acts as a crossroads, allowing for the movement of people, goods, and natural resources between Europe and Asia. Irkutsk is a multicultural city, home to indigenous peoples, descendants of explorers and exiles from the reaches of the Russian empire, and visitors from around the world.

Lake Baikal, a natural treasure for all Russians, is less than an hour away from Irkutsk. It has long held the focus of environmental groups in the USSR/Russia. It is a sacred place for the Buryat people, the largest indigenous group in Siberia. You will explore the lake, its symbolism and the region considering the relationship between people and nature, learning about local customs and traditions. 

This course offers  a number of hands-on experiences. You will ride the Trans-Siberian railway, learn about the unique ecosystem of the world’s deepest lake, contribute to sustainable tourism through trail building, try new foods, experience a range of cultures, and come to understand why the environmental policies of Russia matter to the world.




Check out Dr. Wilkins on the Slavic Connexion podcast
speaking about her Maymester program.



Academic Information

Students will take classes in and around Irkutsk and Lake Baikal. 16 hours of survival Russian is included in the program. Beginning of the program includes one day/night in Moscow with cultural excursions and history tour of the Russian capital.

Course Credit: REE 345

Cross-listings: HIS 366N, ANT 324L

NOTE: The courses listed above have a Global Cultures Flag!

Approved for BA in Sustainability Studies
Approved for IRG Track III: Science, Technology, and the Environment

Application Code: 355102



Dr. Evgenia Wilkins teaches Intensive Russian and Second year Russian in the Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies. She has also taught courses in 20th Century Russian and Soviet Culture, as well as Sustainable Development (in Russian). She has led programs to Irkutsk with UT students the past three years and works closely with Irkutsk State University.

Language(s) of Instruction

English and Russian


Service Learning/Internship

  • Service Learning - Yes
  • Internship - No

Open To

Students from all colleges and schools

Program Cost

2021 program costs and dates TBD. Current prices and dates subject to change. Program fee includes housing, some meals, local transportation and activities, cell phone, and on-site orientation. Program fee does not include airfare, books, insurance and personal expenses.

Maymester estimated costs

Available Funding:

International Education Fee Scholarship


Program Dates:


  • May 24, 2021 to June 19, 2021
  • Deadline to apply: February 15, 2021 (Students redirected from other Maymester Programs have priority.)

Next Step

Learn more by attending an information session, meeting the professor or program coordinator, or meeting with a peer adviser. 

For more info contact Program Coordinator Timothy Myers at

May 24 - June 19, 2021

(online backup available if travel restrictions persist)

Application Deadline:

February 15, 2021

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