1.1 Collaboration with colleagues, students, and leadership in the development of teaching

Collaboration has been an organic part of my development as a teacher. In the course of over 35 years I have taught a wide variety of courses at various universities, ranging from all levels of instruction in both Russian and Czech, through various courses on linguistics (cognitive linguistics, sociolinguistics, statistical approaches to linguistics) and mentored many PhD and MA students. Many of my students and colleagues have been co-creators of my courses and teaching materials, resulting also in numerous co-authored publications. See About Me for a brief bio, and my full CV for a complete account of my employment and teaching history, including a list of courses. Descriptions of new courses I have developed can be found in Section 3.1, and descriptions of new programs of study I have designed can be found in Section 3.2. For a list of my PhD and MA students, see Section A.7. Here I offer just a few representative examples of my collaboration in team-teaching and development of courses and materials.


All of our Russian language courses at UiT, at both the BA and MA levels, are team-taught. This of course means a little more work (I remember that once a colleague from another university quipped that collaboration means that each participant does two-thirds of the job), but that is made easier by the harmonious collegiality of our Russian faculty, and the results are of course worth it. The students have more variety and recourse to more instructors, each instructor can teach to his or her greatest strengths, and in case of illness or other absence we can cover for each other seamlessly, so no instructional opportunity is lost. In the process, we have collectively amassed a great teaching resource in terms of powerpoint presentations, handouts, links and other materials that we are constantly expanding and updating, all archived to our “Fronter” course pages. In a very real sense, all of our courses above the first-year language classes are also partially team-taught by the students themselves, since all of our upper-level courses are partially “flipped”: each student must research and present at least one topic every semester (see more about this in Section 1.2).

Co-authorship of textbooks and websites

I have collaborated with both colleagues and students (and in many cases, students who eventually “grew up” to be colleagues) in all of the textbooks and pedagogical websites that I have produced (see full lists of textbooks and websites). For example, Steven J. Clancy, now Director of the Slavic Languages program at Harvard University, was my PhD student when we began writing The Case Book for Russian, and later we continued the series with The Case Book for Czech and interactive websites with hundreds of exercises for both books. As hard as it is to believe it now, The Case Book for Russian came out in 2002, before it was possible to use Russian Cyrillic letters to search for text on the Internet — that became possible only in 2003. When we were gathering materials for The Case Book for Russian in the late 1990s, all of the hundreds of authentic examples had to be collected by hand, by reading various texts and copying them out. At the time, I engaged a group of students, patched together funding from various sources, and invited them to dinner at my house once a week. After dinner, we sat around the table and presented to each other examples to illustrate for learners all the complex uses of Russian case. Years of challenging students to bring examples that illustrate more and different case uses eventually yielded our co-authored The Case Book for Russian , which also won a nationwide prize for pedagogy (see more about the prize in Section 2.3).

Cognitive Linguistics: The Quantitative Turn. The Essential Reader (2013) is a broadly collaborative work with numerous colleagues who contributed articles demonstrating the use of statistical methods in linguistics. My introduction to that book gives a pedagogically-oriented overview of the types of statistical methods commonly used in linguistics. I also published two textbooks co-authored with Charles E. Townsend of Princeton University: Common and comparative Slavic: Phonology and inflection, with special attention to Russian, Polish, Czech, Serbo-Croatian, and Bulgarian (originally published in 1996, republished in German translated in 2002 and in Korean translation in 2011), and Czech (= Languages of the World/Materials 125) in 2000.

The Exploring Emptiness webpage and exercises designed to help learners of Russian master verbal prefixes is the result of collaborative work in a team including colleagues, PhD, and MA students at UiT.

Together with both academic colleagues and colleagues at the UiT University Library, I have helped lead the development of TROLLing, the Tromsø Repository of Language and Linguistics, which is a pedagogical resource for the entire field of linguistics.

The Learner’s Constructicon of Russian project is part of a multinational project to build constructicons for six languages (the other languages are: English, Brazilian Portuguese, German, Japanese, and Swedish). In this ongoing project I am meeting twice weekly (by Skype) with colleagues at the National Research Higher School of Economics in Moscow, their students, a colleague at UiT and another at the University of Tartu. An undergraduate student at UiT is also engaged in this project.

Russian Oahpa! is a learning resource for exercising Russian morphology, developed in collaboration with the Giellatekno language technology center and other colleagues at UiT.

Cluster Types for Russian Verbs is a database of the aspectual clusters of Russian verbs that commonly appear in textbooks of Russian, and this was developed together with my MA student John Korba.

Collectively, these works demonstrate how my pedagogical authorship has included collaboration with students and with colleagues both at my home institution and beyond.

Design of courses and programs of study

The team-taught courses mentioned above are examples of collaborative design of courses with colleagues. In addition, I have worked on two major curricular innovations that involved collaboration also with university leadership. In 1999 I led the design of a new MA program in Russian, Eurasian, and East European Studies at the University of North Carolina. This required collaboration with all levels of university administration, including a presentation to the Board of Governors of the UNC system. I applied for and received federal funding to launch this new program with a National Security Education Program Institutional Award from the US Department of Defense. The program is still going strong, as shown at this website. At present I am collaborating with UiT leadership in the redesign of the undergraduate programs in Russian and in Russian Studies. I have been particularly active in proposing internship opportunities for the students and new collaborative course content. See more about courses I have designed in Section 3.1 and about programs of study that I have designed in Section 3.2.

Novemberseminaret at UiT

For the past several years, I have organized the “Novemberseminaret” at UiT, a local conference for students and faculty in Russian showcasing recent research and pedagogical achievements. The program from our Novemberseminaret 2016 is available here and focuses on the pedagogical resource “Varangian Rus’” created by my colleague Svetlana Sokolova.