Davis Center Launches New Georgian Studies Program

New initiative, made possible by a $2.3 million sponsored research award from the Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia, will support research and scholarly exchange, teaching, and outreach.

The Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University is launching a new program on Georgian Studies. 

Stephen Jones, professor of Russian and Eurasian studies at Mount Holyoke College and a professor of modern Georgian history at Georgia’s Ilia State University, will serve as the first director of the Program on Georgian Studies.

“This is a first,” said Jones. “Now scholars of Georgia and the South Caucasus have an academic center at Harvard, where they can exchange ideas, pursue research, and collaborate with Georgian colleagues. Its establishment here at Harvard benefits both Georgia and the United States.”

The program’s research activities will expand our knowledge of Georgian history, and stimulate research into Georgia’s culture, literature, politics, and economics by young American scholars and students. The program is designed to promote collaboration, and will fund Georgian scholars and their research projects. This will include scholarly exchanges and visits to the Harvard campus, and joint projects between the Davis Center and Georgian institutions of higher education.

“This is a real step forward in our ability to cover Georgia and the region it occupies, including the Caspian and Black Seas, and the South Caucasus’s political and cultural connections to the Middle East and Eastern Europe,” said Rawi Abdelal, director of the Davis Center and the Herbert F. Johnson Professor of International Management at Harvard Business School. “Students have been clamoring for opportunities to travel to the Caucasus and Central Asia. Working with the government of Georgia will allow us to establish high-quality internships and exchanges. It is, after all, experiencing other countries and cultures that builds understanding, appreciation, and analysis.”

Alexandra Vacroux speaking at podium with U.S. and Georgian flags in background

Davis Center Executive Director Alexandra Vacroux delivers remarks at an event at the Harvard Club of New York City on September 22, 2021, to celebrate the launch of a new program on Georgian Studies at the Davis Center at Harvard University. 

Hechler Photographers

Courses in history and the social sciences covering topics in Georgia and the South Caucasus will be offered every year beginning in January 2022. There will also be Georgian language instruction. “Offering undergraduate and graduate students better intellectual and physical access to Georgia is the way to create a pipeline of experts on the Caucasus,” said Alexandra Vacroux, executive director of the Davis Center and director of graduate studies for the Master’s Degree in Regional Studies—Russia, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia. “Our master's students go on to be leaders in the public and private sectors, and their enhanced knowledge of Georgia and the Caucasus will improve American understanding of the region’s foreign policy, its journalism, and business and cultural worlds.”

Outreach activities under the initiative will promote intellectual collaboration across states, disciplines, and generations, and will engage the American public in a dialogue with Georgia, and the South Caucasus more broadly. Events, lectures, and workshops will cover current developments in Georgian society and politics. The program will host an annual academic conference on Georgia and the South Caucasus.