HSE and Stanford Students are Similar in Many Ways
Between September 10th and 16th,‘Stanford Week’organized by the Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs took place at the HSE. Leading Stanford professors conducted short courses of lectures and master classes for students. Below is a selection of their comments about the event .
Martin Carnoy, Professor of Education and Economics at Stanford University
- What was the main purpose of your visit to the HSE?
- We have an interchange between Stanford and the HSE which is based around teaching Global Economics. We came with four professors to give courses and seminars. We worked with the students to introduce some ideas and courses to them. We were very impressed with the students. In many cases we gave them completely new material. We are going to work together with the Faculty of World Economy and Political Affairs in some new areas of economics. We are also cooperating with the Faculty of Economics.
- What are the future prospects of this exchange project?
- Some HSE teachers have already visited Stanford. Another group will visit us next year. Also some HSE teachers will go to Stanford for three months to conduct some research and work on the Masters program. We want to get more people in Stanford interested in Russia. This is the main prospect, I think
- What are your impressions about the students?
- The main impression is that they are very well prepared. We have to be ready to be challenged by our students. I want to know more about Russian education as I had some students from Russia back in Stanford and my impression is that they are very well prepared. They ask very interesting questions. Also we spoke about the PISA test with the students. We usually consider American students to be somewhat unprepared for this test. However, Russian students showed a similar level in the PISA test, so we tried to discover what the problem was with the test.
- Are there any opportunities for HSE students to visit Stanford?
- This fall there will be a conference in Stanford. I am sure some HSE students will come.
Prof. Lawrence H. Goulder, Shuzo Nishihara Professor in Environmental and Resource Economics and the Chair of the Economics Department at Stanford University
- What were your expectations of this visit?
- I did not have many fixed expectations, I didn't really know what to expect. But what I want to say is that I was very pleased with what I found here. The students are very well-prepared and they asked very good questions during the four lectures I gave. They seemed very motivated and interested. Russia for me is a "big unknown". I've never been in this country before. This visit was like an adventure for me.
- Did you have any opportunity to see Moscow?
- I had very little time for it. Back in Stanford University I am the Chairman of the Department of Economics and even when I am here, thousands of miles away I have to keep up with Stanford, so that limited me much of the time. But I went to some nice restaurants here and I was amazed by the traffic jams. Also it did impress me that in a relatively short time since the fall of Soviet regime so many private enterprises have emerged. So much activity can be seen at the streets.
- What are your impressions of the students?
- My sense is that the students are much similar to those I've seen in my classes back at the US. They seem very motivated, very concerned about the future. I am very lucky at Stanford because we have very good students and here I did not detect any major differences between them and the HSE students. They are similar in many ways and that was nice.
- And what were the most interesting questions from the students?
- Some of the most interesting questions were when the students asked how you could introduce new environmental policies in Russia. In particular they asked how you could change some of the current ways of production. The current ways are in many ways environmentally quite problematic. The students were more interested not in desirable things but practical. They wanted to know what is feasible, what can be done.
- What do you see as the purpose of such visits?
- One of the purposes of this visit was to establish closer connections between the HSE and Stanford. I think we succeeded here for we had some very good discussions with the administration. I think we will continue our discussions.
- Are there any opportunities for the HSE students to go to Stanford in the near future?
- As far as I know, there might be some exchange project for the HSE students to go to Stanford next year but I do not know the details yet.
Mordecai Kurz, Joan Kenney Professor of Economics at the Stanford University
- Is this your first visit to Russia?
- Yes. I have never been in Russia before. I went to St. Petersburg. It is a magnificent place. There I was very impressed by Peterhoff and the Amber Room. Also I enjoyed the canals and the architecture of the city. I liked the countryside, it is very beautiful. The city is very cosmopolitan, when you walk at the streets of St. Petersburg, you sometimes feel like you are in Paris. If we speak about the visit to the HSE itself I would like to say that people I met here were very kind. The hospitality was extraordinary and everything was managed very well. I enjoyed Russia.
You have excellent students. They are very smart and very good. I think they are very involved with the learning process and they have a great desire to learn.
- What were the subjects that interested the students most during your lectures?
- They asked about the American policy and financial institutions. They were very interested in problems related to insurance companies and asked a lot of questions about the financial crisis and how it affects insurance companies. They seemed very interested in this question.
- During your lectures you used complicated mathematics. Did the students understand the mathematical tools you used?
- I tried to use as little mathematics as possible. It turned out that some of the students already knew some of the material. They seemed very uneven. Some of them had more technical preparation than others. But I tried to use as few mathematical tools as I could since some students were not very mathematically sophisticated. My purpose was to construct my five lectures so that the concepts and ideas would be clear. I do not know if all the students would have been able to understand this if I had used more mathematics.
- Do you think the goals of this visit were achieved?
- My goal was to construct a useful series of lectures about risk and insurance that could be delivered to the students without very advanced mathematical tools. I wanted to speak with the students about risk and insurance in general and how we can use this knowledge in implementation of public policy. I think this was very successful.
Ekaterina Rylko, the HSE News Service
Photos by Ekaterina Rylko and Ivan Moryakov