BiographyNicolai N. Petro is the Silvia-Chandley Professor of Peace Studies and Nonviolence at the University of Rhode Island. His books include, Crafting Democracy (Cornell, 2004), The Rebirth of Russian Democracy (Harvard, 1995), and Russian Foreign Policy co-authored with Alvin Z. Rubinstein (Longman, 1997).
As a Council on Foreign Relations fellow, he served as special assistant for policy toward the Soviet Union in the U.S. Department of State from 1989 to 1990. He has received two Fulbright awards (one to Russia and one to Ukraine), as well as fellowships from the Foreign Policy Research Institute, the National Council for Eurasian and East European Research, the Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies in Washington, D.C., and the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.
He has written about Russia and Ukraine for many publications, and his writings appear frequently on the web sites of the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs and The National Interest.
Areas of Research / Professional Expertise
I teach comparative and international politics at the University of Rhode Island. My professional focus is on the role that religious, historical, and cultural narratives can play in democratic development. Since my return from Ukraine, where I spent the academic year 2013-2014 as a Fulbright Research Scholar, I have focused particular attention on developments there.
I am currently working on two projects. The first is a book that explores the tensions arising from the simultaneous efforts of the Russian government to modernize society, and of the Russian Orthodox Church to “re-Christianize” it. The other is a critical appraisal of how the "values gap" between Russia and the West has shaped American foreign policy. Ultimately, I hope to identify the sources within the Russian and European cultural traditions that could help to bridge this gap.
Even as my writings have become more varied, a common thread remains -- the choice of cultural framework, or narrative, often determines a policy’s success or failure.