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DOE Russian Studies Grant Activity


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Russian Studies Grant Project Report
Travel to Lithuania, June 2004
W. David Harrison
9 September 2004



I visited Vilnius and Kaunas, Lithuania for two weeks in June 2004. There were three main purposes for this project and trip. These purposes and the progress toward the goals that these purposes represent are outlined below in this report:

Goal 1) To document and interpret the last ten years' experience of the personal and social transformation of the profession of social work in the context of the reorganization of Lithuanian society.

I achieved this goal through an seven new interviews with first-generation "new Lithuanian" social workers as they gave accounts of the changes that have occurred in their outlooks, worldviews, and the problems of citizens that they have encountered. A new publication on this project is to be prepared by June 2005.

Goal 2) To develop new linkages in research and student experience between Lithuanian universities and East Carolina University.

I achieved Goal 2 by gaining the commitment from Vytautas Magnus University Pro-Rektor Liudvigas Pranavicius to host a small conference of ECU faculty and faculty members from Vytautas Magnus University, Kaunas Technological University, and Kaunas Medical University to develop a research agenda of joint projects that would embrace undergraduate research experiences. This event is still in the planning stages, and we are aiming for an event in May 2005.

Goal 3) To develop an Honors or other undergraduate course (quoting the proposal) "entitled 'The Personal Experience of Social Transformations.' This course will use the narrative from this Russian Studies project as one of the primary units of the course offering examples of narratives of transition, along with other first-person narratives of the personal, lived experience of major transitions in society. This course will provide these examples of narratives of transitions, along with methodological sessions, before students collect, analyze, and interpret individuals' personal accounts of important social changes."

In collaboration with the Director of the Honors Program, I have proposed an Honors Course entitled "The Personal Experience of Major Social Transitions," for which I am currently seeking "general education" requirement status. This course would use narratives collected under the auspices of the Russian Studies grant as exemplars in the early part of the course. Thus, whatever the topics the students choose for their own projects, they will have learned much about the experiences of Lithuanians in the ex-Soviet era. The course should be offered in Spring 2005. This goal is thus nearing achievement.