The Kennan Institute was founded as a division of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in December 1974 through the joint initiative of Ambassador George F. Kennan, then Wilson Center Director James Billington, and historian S. Frederick Starr. Named in honor of Ambassador Kennan's relative, George Kennan "the Elder" (1845-1924), a nineteenth-century explorer of Russia and Siberia, the Kennan Institute is committed to improving American expertise and knowledge about Russia, Ukraine, and other states in the region. Through its residential scholarship programs, lecture and workshop series, and publication program, the Institute strives to attract, publicize, and integrate new research into the policy community.

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.

During the past year the Kennan Institute has focused on numerous topics including: