First Semester of international Dual Degree Master`s Program in Nonproliferation Studies ended in Moscow


MOSCOW, FEBRUARY 17, PIR PRESS. – “The program is tailored to people with a very specific interest in nuclear issues. Getting to work with people who had been very active in the field of nonproliferation, both on the Russian and American side, is an opportunity few students get”, Dual Degree Master`s Program student Collin MacDowell.

Students of the fourth cohort of the Dual Degree Master`s Program WMD Nonproliferation, Nuclear Policy and Global Security, which is run jointly by The Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey (MIIS), Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO), and PIR Center, successfully completed their first semester at MGIMO University in Moscow.

The program and extracurricular activities in 2019 were optimized basing on the experience of the previous three years and feedback from students, instructors and partners. Along with the basic disciplines for the MGIMO Master's programs in International Relations, 9 students from Russia, the USA and the Republic of Korea gained knowledge in core disciplines within the framework of the “nonproliferation” part of the program, led by Dr. Vladimir Orlov, Director of PIR Center, Head of the Center for Global Trends and International Organizations of the ICIS Diplomatic Academy and MGIMO Professor, Gen. Evgeny Buzhinsky, Chairman of the PIR Center Executive Board, Dr. Elena Chernenko, Deputy head of Foreign Desk at the Kommersant daily newspaper, and Dr. Aleksey Ubeev, member of the Advisory Board of PIR Center.

One thing that I really enjoyed about this program is that most of the professors were practitioners or former practitioners in their respective fields, rather than just academics. The information they provided was very interesting and relevant, they also provided good insights”, first year student Riley Willis says. Led by experienced instructors, the fourth cohort studied classes on Arms Control, International Cooperation in Peaceful Use of Nuclear Energy, Nuclear Nonproliferation Policy of Russia, Regional Challenges to WMD Nonproliferation, and a unique module on Security issues in Cyber Space.

Classes in the curriculum included not only ones held in university rooms. As the student Inna Rodina underlined, “the opportunity to meet with the Russian officials and hear their views and opinions contributed a lot to the studying process”.

At the invitation of Inga Yumasheva, Deputy of the State Duma, Member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Coordinator of the parliamentary group for relations with the US Congress, on November 18, 2019 students visited the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation. The visit started with a tour around the building of the State Duma and continued with a discussion about the prospects for Russian-American relations and parliamentary work in the field of international security, also attended by Vyacheslav Nikonov, Deputy of the State Duma, Chairman of the Committee on Education and Science.

Moreover, on December 4, 2019, students of the fourth cohort visited the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation and had an opportunity to meet with Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia Sergey Ryabkov. The meeting was devoted to a wide range of issues of nonproliferation, arms control and strategic stability with a focus on Russian approaches to and vision of global security issues. After the discussion, a guided tour at MFA’s Headquarter was organized, as well as a visit to the Center for the History of the Russian Diplomatic Service.

PIR Center`s representatives work on the program was not limited by Russian borders. From October 19 to 27, PIR Center Director Vladimir Orlov and PIR Center Educational Program Director Yulia Sych visited Monterey, where a series of meetings with students of the third cohort, with the faculty of the Middlebury Institute for International Studies (MIIS), as well as representatives of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS) was held.

Modern technologies make it possible to continue joint work of the two centers for nonproliferation and enable students of different cohorts of the program to find solutions together. On November 19, 2019, PIR Center and CNS for the second time held an online seminar with the students of the international Dual Degree Master’s Program. In 2018, the first such event was held between the second and third cohort. Last year students of the third cohort played the role of consultants in the preparation of the roadmap of Russia-U.S. cooperation on the NPT Review Process by their novice fourth cohort colleagues.

The teleconference was opened by PIR Center Director Vladimir Orlov and CNS Director William Potter, the further discussion was moderated by the Editor of PIR Center “Yaderny Kontrol” Bulletin Adlan Margoev and Director of the CNS Eurasia Nonproliferation Program Sarah Bidgood. The participants discussed challenges to the nonproliferation regime and issues that could lay the ground for U.S.-Russia cooperation for the sake of ensuring a successful 2020 NPT Review Conference as well as prospects and possibilities for strengthening the regime before 2025. 

Russian-U.S. dialogue also was discussed on December 2, 2019, at the meeting of the Trialogue Club International dedicated to the topic "U.S.-Russia relations: Quest for Stability", participated by the Dual Degree students. Cynthia Lazaroff, documentary filmmaker/producer, founder of US-Russian exchange initiatives, environmental activist and Bruce Allyn, Senior Fellow, Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School presented their eponymous multimedia project USRUSSIARELATIONS.ORG.

During the first semester the students managed to contribute to the development of PIR Center information activities as well. As a part of Dr. Orlov’s course “Nuclear Nonproliferation Policy of the Russian Federation”, students prepared and defended their essays in which they analyzed topical nonproliferation issues and Russian policies on these issues in a number of foreign countries. The papers of Erica Barbarossa, Collin McDowell, Inna Rodina, Sergey Semenov and Greg Yoo were published on the PIR Center website in the format of blog entries in English.

At the end of the first semester, the students successfully passed all test and examinations, found thesis advisors and identified topics of their future research. Fourth cohort student Allison Owen mentioned that Russian education system is “extremely different than U.S. schools and it is worth experiencing to better understand the culture”.

“Likewise every academic institution, not only should the program be measured in terms of lectures and seminars, but also in terms of unique opportunities it provides for the US-Russian dialogue, for communication with the most prominent experts in the field and for self-development. This program was one of the most enriching experiences in my life and I thank PIR Center and NTI for providing me with such opportunity”, first year student Sergey Semenov said.

The students have already started their studies in Monterey (MIIS), where they will spend the second and third semesters.  During the fourth semester they will complete their master’s theses and do internships at international organizations, national ministries, leading analytical centers and companies in Moscow, New York, Washington, Vienna, Geneva, Hague and other centers of nuclear energy, nonproliferation and international studies.   

You can learn more about Educational Projects by contacting the Director of PIR Center Educational Program Yulia Sych by phone +7 (495) 987 19 15 or by e-mail [email protected].