You have seen enough memes of Russian President Vladimir Putin on Facebook to know that Russia has re-emerged on the world stage after a brief stint of isolationism. You heard about Brexit, but you wonder how exactly the departure will affect the U.K. and its economy. You know there was a crisis that erupted over Ukraine in 2014, but you are not exactly sure what happened or know what the repercussions are. It is because of actions like these that it is imperative Carleton students study the foreign policies of the European Union and Russia – these countries, while worlds apart, may affect them more than they think.
“We often don’t have enough information to understand the deeper causes and dynamics behind such events,” said Joan DeBardeleben, the professor who will be teaching EURR 2002 V, Europe and Russia in the World, this winter. “This course will help you to understand the deeper background to these events and to gain insight into the motivations behind the actions of the major players,” she added.
The course, which will examine the foreign policies of the European Union and Russia, will explore how these two countries interact with each other. It will also explore how these two countries relate with others, such as Canada, the U.S., China, and the Middle East. With a thorough understanding of current events, such as the Ukraine crisis, the role of NATO, and security challenges, students will quickly see how learning the course materials pay off outside of the classroom, as well.
“You will be able to converse intelligently with your friends and family about these important world developments, see linkages to material you’re learning about in other courses, and read the news with a more critical eye,” DeBardeleben said.
As an interdisciplinary course, Russia and Europe in the World will draw material from a myriad of subjects, including political science, international relations, and security studies. Public policy and political economy will also be touched on in the class. Despite the course’s seemingly niche subject matter, DeBardeleben said “I try to present the material in a manner that is accessible to students with minimal background.”
For DeBardeleben, her interest in Russia was piqued at a young age. “I began to learn the Russian language already in Grade 11 in high school, as I was curious about why relations between the United States, where I lived, and Russia were so tense,” she said. She was curious about why the ideals of the Russian revolution had not been realized and was skeptical about the American stereotypes about Russia. After pursuing an undergraduate degree in Russian language and literature, DeBardeleben completed a Masters degree and PhD in political science, with, you guessed it, a focus on Russia.
“When the USSR collapsed in 1991, my interests began to take a turn,” DeBardeleben said, referring to the role the European Union played as the Soviet bloc was in the process of being dismembered. As DeBardeleben learned more about the EU, she said she became intrigued by “this innovative effort to form a union that would promote economic integration and cooperation between countries in order to guard against the outbreak of future wars in Europe.” It was not long until DeBardeleben became involved in establishing the Centre for European Studies at Carleton in 2000. She is also the director of the Canada-Europe Transatlantic Dialogue and is the editor-in-chief for an online, peer-reviewed journal, Review of European and Russian Affairs.
After spending the better half of her life dedicated to learning more about Russia and Europe in the world, DeBardeleben is far from finished. “There has never been a dull moment in my field of research,” she said, “and I try to share my enthusiasm and insights with students through this course.”
By Bianca Chan
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