America and Russia: Empires of the global North

As from 2024-2025, the minor Transatlantic Studies continues under the name: America and Russia: Empires of the global North. 

This minor studies how the United States and Russia defined themselves, interacted with Europe, and competed with each other as global cultural empires from early modernity to the present day.


Number of EC

30 EC

Number of courses

4 compulsory courses


Block 1, 2, 3 or 4. 

NB: If you started the Transatlantic Europe minor (old name) in the 2023-2024 academic year or earlier, you can complete the minor in 2024-2025 by taking courses from the current course offerings of the America and Russia minor. 


Prof. dr. Jaap Verheul

Course overview

America and Russia: Empires of the global North

Minor code


Entry requirements


Associated MA-programmes
Register between 3 June and 21 June 2024

Make sure to register for the minor as well as all its courses


The minor ‘America and Russia: Empires of the Global North’ is designed for students interested in the two large and powerful empires that have wielded significant influence over Europe. The four courses in this minor will offer you a thorough and coherent overview of the links between America, Russia, and Europe from early modernity to the present. You will learn how American and Russian culture and society evolved from European roots and models to grow into global superpowers that deeply influenced economics, culture, and society as they fought a Cold War for the hearts and minds of European audiences.

This minor will engage with academic discussions about the cultural dimensions of imperialism, explore competing claims on culture, civilization, and heritage, and employ long-term comparative history. This will help you to understand current challenges such as the emergence of global cultural models, the geopolitical competition for resources in times of climate change, pattern of conflict across the world, and the contest over cultural diversity. The courses “US History 1776-present” and “A Cultural History of the Russian Empire” will introduce you to the history and identity of the two main competitors of Europe, the course “Imagining Europe” discusses how these cultural empires constructed images of Europe as a significant “other”, and the course on the “Cultural Cold War” shows how these global competitors fought over the hearts and minds of Europe during the Cold War.

Note for humanities students: as you can complete this minor in the first semester of the third year, it forms an excellent preparation for an exchange programme with the United States or Canada.


European history cannot be studied in isolation. This minor examines how the United States and Russia competed for cultural dominance with Europe. For much of their history these empires defined themselves through a deeply felt sense of conflict with Europe, while simultaneously accepting European culture as a model of civilization, technology, and economy. Simultaneously, Europe itself evolved in tandem with these rising competitors that eventually transformed into global powers in the twentieth century. This transnational and comparative approach will give you insight into the relationship between culture and foreign relations, processes of cultural exchange, and shifting geopolitical power relations within the Western world. As this minor will explore cultural dimensions of international encounters, it is well placed between the disciplines of cultural history and international relations. We will study a wide range of primary sources, ranging from canonical expressions of national identity and a shared national creed to depictions of cultural appropriation and exceptionalism in literature, paintings, and music.  

Learning objectives

After completing this minor, you will:

  • have survey knowledge of the emergence of the United States and Russia as cultural empires and global models from early modernity to the present. This includes knowledge of key historical events, cultural movements, and societal developments that shaped the trajectories of these nations and regions.
  • be able to recognize how mutual perceptions, cultural diplomacy, soft power, and acknowledgement of a common past have affected the relations between America and Russia and their interaction with Europe. This enables you to understand how cultural factors shape diplomatic interactions and international relations.
  • be able to understand contemporary challenges and developments in the relations between Europe, the United States, and Russia. You will be able to analyze current events through a lens informed by historical and cultural knowledge.
  • be acquainted with the most important conceptual approaches and research traditions in the cultural dimensions of International Relations and how to apply these to concrete cases
  • have practiced and applied skills such as academic writing and research. This includes synthesizing information into policy papers.

Matching bachelor's programme's

The minor is especially interesting for students in the humanities and disciplines with a historical, cultural or political dimension.


The minor consists of 4 compulsory courses (30 EC). 

Note for students who started the minor Transatlantic Studies in 2023-2024

You can finish the minor under the name Transatlantic Studies in 2024-2025. 

Application and registration

How to register for this minor and its course modules, depends on whether you are a student of Utrecht University or not.

More information

If you wish to know more, or have questions about this minor, please contact the Student Desk Humanities.