"To create revolution in minds": about the student project "Res Publica Discussion Club" in the interview with Alim Hapov
Alim Khapov, a 2nd year student, shared his leadership experience regarding the recently created but more than successful project
1. Could you tell us more about the project “Res Publica” which you organized together with Andrei Chernikov and Alina Lueva (what inspired you to create the club, how you manage to organize a team, what your central idea is; global goals, achievements, topics, guests, meetings)
- To begin with, I would like to say that the idea of creating a club (probably not even a club, but an organized multifunctional platform for realizing projects) was with us since the very beginning of our studies. You see, the main element inherent in all students when they first enter a university is enthusiasm, a desire to create, to engage not only in academic activities, but also in something for their soul and, most importantly, not to lose these enthusiasm and maximalism: it is necessary to think broader and set global goals. I'm just trying to say that our program has gigantic but unused potential. And in my opinion, we could claim for the role of the leader in the field of International Relations, at least at our faculty. Several times over the previous year we applied with various initiatives to our professors and each time we received a nice refusal, but as it usually happens, a small group of particularly initiative comrades gathered, whom I can safely name: Alina Lueva - chief designer and expert in aesthetics, style and at the same time our Tarkovsky; Andrey Chernikov - our personnel officer, committed ideologist and the main protagonist of the club’s principles; Lev Shadrin – ideas generator and a desperate supporter of the struggle against technocracy and bureaucracy. And we decided that we would create a club. So simple. Well, actually it’s not that simple, because people need to be organized, they need to be forced to believe in the idea, and only then we can move forward. We were thinking about what sense of the academic successes of our students is as well as the very nature of the program and its status if we do not use these resources, do not convert them into something global, into something ambitious?
This raises a very logical question: “What is our aim?” And you know, we have been thinking about it for a long time. We have many goals but someone once said the phrase "Create a revolution in minds," and you see, I like it, because this is the very essence of our club. Thinking unconventionally, breaking the discourse – these are the main requirements for club members and our goal.
When creating the club, we were guided by the history of the London School of Economics, its foundations, we wanted to establish something that could emphasize the unity with our British colleagues; we were inspired by the works of Plato, and if you have not paid attention to this, you should do it, because this topic passes through all our activities.
Speaking about our activities, we have already been visited by people of science and people of power. For example, our last guest is the Advisor to the President of Kazakhstan and the author of many scientific and historical books. This meeting was held according to the rules of Chatham House, so I can’t reveal its contents to you, but I can say that it is a definite success, because we gave the opportunity to beginner international relations students to ask questions that you won’t hear at most open lectures or master classes. And if we turn to the sources, we started with a very deep and philosophical theme “Moscow is the third Rome”, and what was our surprise when there was a crowd of people interested in this, students, ready for dialogue and discussion. Next year we plan several projects that are too early to disclose, but I can say that all aspects that may be of interest to a student at the Higher School of Economics will be touched upon, and even more. The club plans to expand beyond our program and even the faculty.
2. Does the program that you study at in any way contribute to the project? If so, how?
- It is an interesting question. The program helps us with the promotion of our content through reposts, including through this interview, and this is certainly a positive thing, but I personally think that the level of cooperation could be much higher. For example, I don’t remember when exactly, but recently Richard Sakva gave a lecture at our program, and it would be great if we could combine our efforts and create common content in such cases, but this does not happen. Instead, we have the activities of the program and our activities, and we have not talked about any kind of close collaboration yet. Our club does not yet have enough weight to reach our British colleagues, but the program does, however, this direction has also not been implemented yet.
3. What difficulties do you face as a project Manager, and how do you manage to overcome them?
- As a person who often manages the process, I, of course, sometimes feel pressure and difficulties, but this is not extraordinary: if you set for yourself the goal of project management, you should be ready for anything. However, there are still certain exceptional moments. In November, my colleague and I were at the international forum on artificial intelligence (further - AI), and we also made contacts for the further development of the club. The work within the forum was excellent. International relations may not be directly related to AI, but this is only at first glance. If you are an international expert, everything should matter to you, and there is no area which you should not understand: after all, we are in the 21st century and now the IR is not only diplomacy. Closer to the point, of course, when after such experience you return to the routine of University life, you face certain dissonance. But despite all this, I believe that I was lucky with the team, and this is the main thing. We understand and respect each other. Having experience in participating and conducting UN models, organizing forums and conferences, I can safely say that working in such conditions is a rare success.
4. One of the guests of the club was Roman Chukov - Chairman of the Center for international promotion Foundation. What opportunities does the CMP offer for the development of "globally" youth initiatives?
- Yes, Roman Chukov was our guest, and many students consider the discussion with him one of the most interactive. I share this opinion, because Roman, as I believe, did something that is often forgotten by our professors, who are certainly experts in the field of defense, but they often delve into the theory, without giving students an understanding of how and where the various mechanisms work in practice. Roman succeeded, not only by giving an understanding of how Russian soft power works and who its main actors are, but also by providing an insight into the world of real diplomacy, explaining to novice international experts how to break into this world, how to position themselves and what to do. CMP offers many perspectives for promoting youth initiatives. Just recently, the UNESCO model was held, the preparation for which was conducted under the supervision and careful instructions of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the CMP was the organizer of this model. Next year they plan to hold international models on three continents at once, and not only models: the CMP also participates in international summits and forums, including provision of opportunities for aspiring diplomats.
5. How do you think a modern student should express himself in order to build a career in international diplomacy?
- As it seems to me, it is necessary to be a person ready for action, someone who is ready to take up any area and work on it. Critical and non-standard thinking here will be only a bonus: any employer is interested in a multi-functional and creative staff. Well, it is important to determine the goals in advance. As I said earlier, international relations in the 21st century are not just about diplomacy, and when you realize that the field for your living space is much wider and there are multiple paths to a place under the Sun, then you will be closer to success.