Odyssey: Fall of the Soviet War

During this centennial year of the Russian Revolution, we invite you to examine the tumultuous last phase of the Soviet Union, 1985-91. The heralded rise of Mikhail Gorbachev and his implementation of reforms are examined. They at first seemed promising, with the relaxation of Soviet censorship and the opening up of formerly taboo historical subjects, such as the Stalinist purges and the decimation of the peasantry in the forced industrialization of the 1930s; and with the relaxation of economic controls and the introduction of limited private enterprise. But this hopeful beginning rapidly deteriorated into despair. Political tensions rose. Aging industries and infrastructure were exposed, including most dramatically during the explosion of the Chernobyl nuclear power station in Ukraine in late April 1986. Sharp economic decline set in, including hyperinflation. Old tensions between various Soviet peoples exploded into conflicts. In the matter of just a few years, one of the greatest political and economic collapses in recorded history was underway. And yet, the very real possibility of all-out civil war and utter calamity was averted. We will consider whether the collapse of the Soviet Union was due to its being either fundamentally unreformable or incorrectly reformed.

910.786.01 Homewood campus Wednesdays, Nov. 1 to 29, 6:30 to 8 p.m. Cost: $99 (four sessions)

JHU full-time faculty staff are eligible for 80 percent tuition remission; spouse/same-sex domestic partners, 50 percent. You will be unable to register online and receive the discount. Contact 410-516-8516 for more information.