Digital Transformation of State and Society in Russia


The course is designed for advanced undergraduates or Master’s level students of humanities and social sciences.


The ‘digital’ is profoundly changing Russia today, equally transforming the methods used to study Russia. To grasp this two-fold transformation, this course brings together leading Helsinki experts in Russian Studies and digital humanities to examine how Russian society, politics, economy and culture are reconfigured in the context of digitalisation. We now have a wealth of new (big) data sources, such as digital archives, social media and various kinds of ‘digital-born’ content that allow us to investigate Russian society in novel ways.

Through a series of lectures, demos and workshops culminating in a three-day hackathon, the course provides a concise overview of the novel opportunities for applying digital methods and big data to the study of Russian state and society. We will address methodological questions that are particular to the study of Russia, such as Russian social media platforms and the analysis of Russian-language sources, as well as legal and ethical controversies involved in working with Russian digital research materials. The course is suitable for all students interested in the changing field of Russian Studies at the intersection of the ‘societal’ and the ‘digital’.


The course is led by Dr Daria Gritsenko, Assistant Professor of the Aleksanteri Institute and Helsinki Centre for Digital Humanities, Faculty of Arts, University of Helsinki.

Dr Sari Autio-Sarasmo, Director of the MA Programme in Russian Studies and university lecturer at the Aleksanteri Institute, participates in the planning of the course and will deliver some of the lectures.

Andrey Indukaev, a postdoctoral researcher at Aleksanteri Institute, will be delivering lectures, workshops and demos with Daria Gritsenko throughout the course.

Guest lecturers of the course
Ira Jänis-Isokangas, PhD, Head of Research Training, Aleksanteri Institute / University of Helsinki
Mila Oiva, Postdoctoral researcher, University of Turku
Saara Ratilainen, Postdoctoral researcher, Aleksanteri Institute / University of Helsinki
Julia Velkova, Postdoctoral researcher, Consumer Society Research Centre / University of Helsinki
Mariëlle Wijermars, Postdoctoral researcher, Aleksanteri Institute / University of Helsinki


The student understands and is able to recognise multi/interdisciplinary approaches of Digital transformation of state and society in Russia. The student is able to name and recognise the major methodologies used in digital humanities. The student can interpret processes and phenomena analysed in the course. After finishing the course, the student will have gained tools to be applied further in the study of Russian state and society. In addition, the student acquires inquiry-based learning skills and collaborative study methods.


The course entails around 40 hours of teaching with various activating learning formats, such as lectures, demos and workshops, culminating in a three-day hackathon. Each lecture includes mandatory pre-reading.

A hackathon is a type of a workshop, where the participants co-design and put into practice IT projects. Our hackathon will consist of intensive three-day group work, in which the students will formulate research questions with respect to available data sets, apply digital methods and tools, and summarize their findings in a group poster. Moreover, no prior coding skills are required! During the afternoon sessions of the second teaching week, we will focus on sources of Russian big data and try out simple ‘off-the-shelf’ tools for data analysis and visualization that can be applied during the hackathon.  


Attendance, course readings and final essay/exam. Grading is based on attendance, active participation in discussions and hackathon assessed by the peers, completion of the required assignments and the final poster presentation.
Grading scale: 5 = excellent 4 = very good 3 = good 2 = average 1 = poor 0 = fail.


City Centre Campus

Preliminary schedule (pdf)


Will be announced later.