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The fall of communism wrought many changes throughout the world, and Gregory LaConte ’03 is examining this historic political shift as part of an intensive research project.

“I’m analyzing the Perestroika and Glasnost reforms initiated by the Gorbachev administration and the role that these played in the downfall of the former Soviet Union,” says LaConte, a history and government & law major.

LaConte’s interest in the subject was piqued by a class on the Soviet Union with his independent study adviser, Joshua Sanborn, assistant professor of history.

Sanborn is author of Drafting the Russian Nation, a groundbreaking book on modern Russian and military-social history published in January. He has involved Lafayette students in his research and mentored students who went on to receive a Fulbright grant and James Madison Fellowship. Sanborn has received many fellowships, including ones from the American Council of Learned Societies, the Social Science Research Council, the Council for Advanced Studies in Peace and International Cooperation Fellowship, and the Mellon Foundation.

“The classes I have taken that looked at Soviet history focused more on the Stalin and Khrushchev eras, and I wanted to explore the Gorbachev era, as well as the immediate causes of the breakup of the Soviet Union,” he says.

“I am very glad to be working with Dr. Sanborn,” LaConte adds. “He possesses a wealth of knowledge on Soviet and Russian history and is very encouraging and has a genuine interest in his field.”

According to Sanborn, an independent study seemed a natural fit for LaConte.

“Greg is unusually curious about his studies,” he says. “This was a topic that he was interested in, and he’s able to shape his course of study and collaborate with me on a syllabus, readings, and papers.”

LaConte is pleased with the individual attention he’s receiving and is glad to have the opportunity to pursue his own scholarly interests in greater depth. He feels the project will benefit his future plans.

“I plan to enter the field of public administration,” says LaConte. “I can help prevent history from repeating itself by looking at the administrative successes and failures of the Soviet Union and analyzing what went wrong.”

LaConte feels this is just one of many positive experiences he has had at Lafayette.

“I have greatly enjoyed my academic career at Lafayette,” he says. “This is a great environment for projects such as an independent study. The student-to-professor ratio is conducive to projects involving independent research, as students are able to work closely with professors.

“I have been very pleased with the high level of education available in both the history and the government & law departments.”

A tour guide, LaConte belongs to College Republicans and is a former member of Pep Band. He is Sergeant-at-Arms and chair of the Grievance Committee for Phi Kappa Psi fraternity.

Categorized in: Academic News