Izolda Savenkova, Russian

Advanced Russian

Applying for the Valley & Ridge program, I hoped to get some fresh and innovative ideas on teaching sustainability in the language classroom. I taught Advanced Russian in the Fall of 2020, and was able to reflect on the course and have meaningful conversations with students about the topics that they would like to see in Advanced language courses. I came to the conclusion to reorganize one of the modules in the course dedicated to environmental issues and solutions in Russia and Russian-speaking countries. The main concern I had was how to build bridges between the materials that we read and discussed in the classroom to the reality that students live. My goal was to design more productive and engaging assignments and projects which encourage students to look at the learning material through the lens of sustainability and campus experiences. 

Prior to my participation in the Valley and Ridge Workshop, I read several scholarly works that shared similar experiences. However, I was not confident that I had found a suitable teaching model and could successfully implement principles of education for sustainability into my curriculum. Through the workshop, I organized learning outcomes for the module and set up new goals for it in order to find a teaching model that works. Having completed the workshop, I discovered a way to make stronger connections between our Russian Advanced class, college, global partners in Moscow partner-university, and a high school in Kazakhstan. I plan to launch an eco-challenge in Russian for our students on campus and their language partners abroad, among other activities. Also, Dickinson students will create a virtual tour around the campus to introduce sustainability principles in Russian and suggest simple solutions for the abroad programs on how students can contribute to the university and local environment. 

Day by day, moving from expanding theoretical knowledge about sustainability to learning the best practices for teachers, I explored many campus opportunities with other program participants and had highly effective discussions. I really appreciated the interdisciplinary nature of the program. It makes the workshop unique because it creates a “global” community as it is supposed to be in a contemporary world, where specialists from various fields fight global challenges.