My name is Brendan Luecke and I have been awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to research the effectiveness of the Environmental Movement in Irkutsk Oblast during the 2002-2003 academic year. I am a spring 2002 graduate of the University of Wisconsin and have a B.A. in Spanish and Russian language and literature. This trip to Irkutsk is not my first; I have been here several times over the course of the past 3 years. In fact, my choice of topic is the end result of these combined experiences.
At the moment I have already begun my grant program. I am a visiting student at the State University of Irkutsk in the Social Sciences Department, and my university work will be concentrated in the field of Regional Studies. I have been most fortunate to enjoy the full support of the faculty. Recently I received a very generous offer to collaborate with them and publish a book on the results of my research. It goes without saying that this will be a tremendous amount of work, but I am thrilled that my efforts will not become a deaf contribution to academia, but rather a published work accessible to all.
The basic plan for my time in Irkutsk is as follows: I will collaborate with local NGOs in the region to research their activities, goals, and methods, and then through a regime of interviews and observation of the media, I will attempt to gauge the effectiveness of their work and perhaps speculate as to the reasons for their success or failure. It is likely that my research will focus only on major issues of the region, some of which will likely be pollution of Lake Baikal and illegal logging in Irkutsk Oblast. While I have only been here for two weeks, classes are already beginning, and my research is already demanding my full attention. I look forward to an invigorating, informative, and productive year.