[FLAC], 1993-1998

REESC faculty and Alan Kimball, REESC Director, in cooperation with the UO Vice-Provost for International Affairs, helped design what became a four-year project to encourage and support the incorporation of foreign-language experience in the social science curriculum. A generous grant from the Ford Foundation allowed concentration on several less frequently taught languages, including Russian.

Beginning in the fall of 1994 and continuing through the 1997/98 academic year, several history and REESC courses experimented with different ways to help students use Russian language materials in their studies. Courses in the history of Russia and Russian culture taught by Julie Hessler, Alan Kimball, Oleg Kripkov, and Yelaina Kripkov have been a part this program. Winter term, 1998, Oleg Kripkov taught a REESC course, "National Identity and Social Crisis Through Contemporary Russian Texts", under the Ford grant. At the heart of the pedagogical experiment was the thought that we need to expand the foreign-language experience beyond the traditional language/literature curriculum.

Alan Kimball, REESC Director, composed the following summary report:

  1. My objective has been to teach history with foreign-language (Russian) primary and secondary sources. This is not the same as use of historical sources to teach Russian. Language instruction is done very well in language departments. Main accent here is on reading and understanding texts in the foreign language. Some amount of exposure to the spoken language is also desirable, but I do not think it wise to make student discussion in the foreign language a significant part of the course experience.
  1. I have found it best to concentrate FLAC instruction in a special section, associated with but not bound to an existing course. In other words, recruit students into a satellite course from an existing course, preferably of broad subject matter, as in this case Russian History, a full-year course, but compose the syllabus of the satellite course in such a way that it can both reinforce the core course and also "stand alone" as a course for students recruited from a broader population of students who have the requisite language ability and interest. The section should therefore be organized around its own particular theme, of interest to a broad range of students but sufficiently focused to present a coherent and repeated core vocabulary.
  1. In this connection, I have make every effort to attract and keep students whose foreign-language levels cover a broad spectrum. In Russian, I feel some effort has to be made to attract students in their second year of instruction, certainly in the third. The challenge is two-fold: how to satisfy the pedagogical needs of students at both intermediate and advanced levels of facility in the foreign language. The challenge is to identify appropriate texts and incorporate them in a single syllabus in such a way that students can work together in one course without some being overwhelmed and others held back.
  1. Work closely with a professional foreign-language pedagogue in all these matters.