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Regine Spector Receives Grant to Study the Social Impacts of Economic Change in Eurasia

Assistant Professor Regine Spector will be spending this summer studying the social impacts of economic change in Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Kyrgyzstan. Spector received the grant along with Stephen Jones (Mt. Holyoke College) and Audrey Alstadt (History Department at UMass)to conduct a Five College Faculty-Student Summer Reseach Seminar. The Summer Research Seminar program, now in its fourth year, supports inter-institutional teams of junior and senior faculty members during six week summer sessions.For this project, Spector and her team will study the nature of economic change and its social impacts in Eurasia, specifically in the states of Georgia, Azerbaijan and Kyrgyzstan. The team will answer questions such as:


  • Is there an emerging "middle class" in these countries?

  • Can we talk in categorical terms of "class" in these societies, or should we think in terms of "social clusters"? Are there other categories of social status and identity that are more appropriate to describe these transitional societies?

  • How do emerging social and economic clusters (classes? strata?) self-identify, and what are their patterns of behavior?

  • Have new economic opportunities exacerbated or alleviated the potential for social unrest and political instability?

  • In what ways are energy-rich states different in this regard (Azerbaijan) than non-energy producing countries (Georgia and Kyrgyzstan)?

In awarding funding for this project, the Academic Deans of the Five Colleges noted that they were particularly excited about the team's "plan to address collaboratively an issue that is not only of regional but structural importance, while exploring ground level economic change and its implications."

The program will be an excellent opportunity for students to engage in a collaborative research project with faculty experts. Students interested in pursuing this opportunity should see the information below regarding how to apply.


How students can apply:


The research team is looking for undergraduate Research Assistants from all five colleges with the following skills:

  • Interest, enthusiasm, and some background knowledge (preferable) of politics and societies in Eurasia

  • Library research skills

  • Ability to read in Russian language would be welcome but not required.  Knowledge of Azerbaijani, Georgian or the Kyrgyz language would be an added bonus (but not expected).

Research Assistants will receive a competitive weekly stipend in addition to housing at Amherst College for the duration of the project.  This is a full-time position between June 10-July 20, which will involve both working independently as well as meeting with the faculty leaders of the project on a regular basis.  All the research assistants will undergo a library training as well as a short qualitative research method training with the newly established Institute for Social Science Research (ISSR) at the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Please email your resume, a one page statement of interest and qualifications, and one letter of recommendation to all three faculty leaders by Monday, April 15th:;;


News Type: 

  • Faculty News