The Kennan Institute of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars was founded in 1974 to carry out studies of the Soviet Union (Sovietology), and subsequently of post-Soviet Russia and other post-Soviet states. The Institute is widely regarded as the foremost institute for advanced Russia studies in the United States.
The Kennan Institute is the oldest program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and a national resource for putting "knowledge in the public service." For over 40 years, the Kennan Institute's mission has been to improve American understanding of Russia in order to improve our nation's ability to engage with and make policy concerning Russia and the wider region.
The Institute is named after George Kennan an American explorer of Russia and twice removed older cousin of Ambassador George F. Kennan. George F. Kennan is best known as the author of The Long Telegram and the X Article, and by extension the author of America’s containment policy toward the Soviet Union. Ambassador Kennan, together with Wilson Center Director James Billington and historian S. Frederick Starr, initiated the establishment of the Kennan Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Center.
In addition to its office in Washington, the Kennan Institute operates an office in Kyiv, Ukraine. Kennan’s Kyiv office provides on-the-ground assistance to the Washington staff and a communication link with various Ukrainian organizations. The office also organizes publications, seminars, and conferences on major events of the day featuring Kennan Institute alumni.
The Institute offers residential scholarships in the humanities and social sciences to academic scholars and specialists from government, the media, and the private sectors. Thanks to its location in Washington, D.C., scholars at the Kennan Institute have access to libraries, archives, research facilities, and human resources that are among the finest in the world.
The Institute also administers an active program of public lectures and conferences featuring scholars and public figures from the United States, Ukraine, Russia, and other states from the region. The Institute makes the results of its activities known through a variety of publications including Meeting Reports, Occasional Papers, Special Reports, and commercially published books.
Most recent research topics include
- Religion in Post-Soviet Societies
- Migration in the Post-Soviet space
The Kennan Institute has recently concluded its cooperation with the ISE Center (Information. Scholarship. Education.), Moscow, in administering the Centers for Advanced Study and Education (CASE) program. The CASE program, launched with support from Carnegie Corporation of New York and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, established nine thematic research centers at regional Russian universities in order to foster scholarship in the social sciences and humanities. These Centers are now administered directly by their home universities and the Russian Ministry of Education.
- Director: Matthew Rojansky 
- Deputy Director: William Pomeranz