“When I came to Macalester I expected to major in environmental studies, Latin American studies, or international studies,” says Ingrid Korsgard ’13 (Madison, Wis.).

Korsgard chose instead to major in Russian with a concentration in community and global health. “Having taken Russian my senior year of high school, I realized I wanted to continue my language study and that most of the classes I wanted to take were in the Russian department or somehow related to Russia,” she explains.

One of Korsgard’s favorite Russian courses has been Film as Testimony, Propaganda, and Art taught by Professors Julia Chadaga and Peter Weisensel. She said, “I loved it because we learned about Russian history through film but also about Soviet history specifically as we studied the lives and challenges directors faced in the USSR.”

In addition to the Russian studies course offerings, Korsgard connected her study of Russian to her other academic interests during her year abroad. She studied in Irkutsk, one of the largest cities in Siberia, with the School of Russian and Asian Studies’ Siberian program. According to Korsgard, “I wanted to get a new perspective on Russia and to incorporate my interests in health and environmental studies in addition to studying the language. The SRAS Siberian studies program seemed like the perfect fit. It included language courses, as well as courses like The History of Siberia and Environmental Problems in a Transitioning Economy.”

The SRAS program facilitated an internship for Korsgard with Great Baikal Trail, an environmental NGO whose work focuses on Lake Baikal, the most voluminous source of fresh water in the world. Her internship led to the research project she conducted during her second semester there on the relationship between health and the environment in the Baikal region.

“It was a great learning experience because I had to make and distribute a survey in Russian and then analyze the results. This resulting paper was inspiration for my honors project, which deals with environmentalism on Baikal from the 1930s through present day. It has been a lot of fun to combine my interests in environmental and public health with my passion for Russia.”

Following graduation, Korsgard will work over the summer as a project director for Amigos de las Américas and will likely teach English in Russia in the fall.

June 10 2013

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