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We Do Not Draw a Divisive Line between Economics and International Relations

Interdisciplinary research and education in economics and international politics are the trademark of the Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs at HSE. The Faculty offers three tracks for undergraduate students and five Master’s programmes, as well as many opportunities for collaboration on research projects for faculty members and students. Sergey Karaganov, Dean of the Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs, spoke with The HSE Look about research plans, international cooperation and new degree programmes.

— How did things change for the Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs after becoming one of the ten 'mega-faculties'?

— Personally, my work became more difficult because we need to develop more complex projects under economic constraints, but there is a lot of potential. With the addition of the School of Asian Studies the faculty as a whole gained many opportunities, especially by integrating the professors and students who focus on the culture, history and languages of East Asia into our programmes on world economy and international affairs, and the other way around.

It takes time and effort; it requires some sacrifices and changes and new ways of doing things – but overall it is a positive process. We find the faculty merger most productive because of the new people it brought. We were starting to get stale in the established research areas, etc, and now we have many new colleagues to collaborate with.  I am glad that we have faculty members from the School of Asian Studies; many of the younger colleagues are very proactive, and already make up almost half of our new faculty administration.

Of course, synergy takes time but we already start to see the benefits. We’ve done a review of the educational programmes which we offer, including the programmes in Asian Studies, and made adjustments to the curriculum. This led to an increase in tuition-based applicants and students, and a certain redistribution of them among various undergraduate and graduate programmes we offer.

— How did the merger influence the research landscape of the Faculty?

— One of my tasks as a dean and a leader is to foster collaborations. We are using both external contracts as a means to do research and the Faculty’s budget to support research projects which are not yet sought out by clients. We are starting to form mixed groups which focus on intercultural cooperation in business and politics, especially concerning Asian countries. The results will take some time to emerge, but it is undoubtedly a productive endeavor.

From the very start, our Faculty practiced seamlessness: we do not draw a divisive line between economics and international relations. Economists who have little understanding of international relations, culture and religion are not going to be good experts, the same way that it’s impossible to be a good expert or policy-maker in international relations without having a deep knowledge of world economy.

Ideally, if we had more resources, we would be a Faculty of Political Economy and offer programmes and do research in economics, international relations, cultural anthropology, history and religion. It’s a goal we are patiently working towards within the existing constraints and resources.

We are using both external contracts as a means to do research and the Faculty’s budget to support research projects which are not yet sought out by clients. We are starting to form mixed groups which focus on intercultural cooperation in business and politics, especially concerning Asian countries

— You are launching an undergraduate programme fully in English, can you tell more about it?

— It’s a programme that we’ve been developing for the past two years with the London School of Economics and Political Science (University of London). It’s going to be a tuition-only programme taught fully in English, with a mostly humanities-oriented curriculum in international relations, together with mathematics and economics. We want to provide students with high quality international education and the opportunity to receive the degree from two universities.

— Are you planning to target primarily Russian prospective students?

— Russian students will make up a large part of the student body, certainly, but we expect to have a substantial number of international students as well, based on our experience with other programmes.

— What is the profile of your international students and how many are there?

— The majority of international students are enrolled in Master’s degree programmes, though some of them join us already for the Bachelor’s degree. Ideally, we would have around 20% of international students in undergraduate programmes and around 30-40% in Master’s. It will give our students a chance to develop and practice intercultural skills. It’s very important because knowledge and professional skills are only a part of what good education provides students; experience, socializing, friendships, a chance to interact with people from different backgrounds – all of this is valuable and can help make a good professional.

I had the privilege of meeting Lee Kuan Yew several times, and he was bewildered by the fact that somebody who did not have an experience living abroad could be appointed a cabinet minister. ‘They cannot assess the situation in their own country if they are too immersed in it,’ he noted, and I agree with that.

— Who are your main partners among foreign universities? Are there any plans to find new ones?

— We have several partners in Europe (mostly in economics), a lot of partner universities in China and Japan, and several very prominent partners in USA (mostly in international business). We have a long-running cooperation with Harvard University: we hold conferences twice a year and our doctoral students can spend one research year at Harvard tuition-free.

We also plan to develop a partnership with Leiden University (the Netherlands) and will try to involve other faculties which teach humanities, as currently the agreement is focused mostly on academic exchange for students.

In general, we’ve been pioneers in developing systematic relations with Chinese universities, we also have joint programmes with universities in UK.

The majority of international students are enrolled in Master’s degree programmes, though some of them join us already for the Bachelor’s degree. Ideally, we would have around 20% of international students in undergraduate programmes and around 30-40% in Master’s

— HSE is hiring faculty members and researchers through international recruitment procedures. Is it an important opportunity for the Faculty to attract new colleagues?

— I think it’s a very valuable opportunity for us, especially now that we can get a more flexible opportunity to hire senior scholars for part-time positions. It is more convenient for both sides: we can get renowned professors to give lectures, supervise students’ graduation theses, and they do not have to relocate to another country for 3-5 years.  We already have two full-time faculty members hired for tenure-track positions: Andrej Krickovic (see the interview in The HSE Look 1(08) 2014) and Yuval Weber who are active members of our team.

— Could you tell more about research carried out at the Faculty?

— First of all, the Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs and our partner organizations developed the policy proposal for Russia’s economic turn to the East. One year ago we prepared the proposal for joining the development of the Silk Road Economic Belt and The Eurasian Economic Union, which became a part of Russia’s policy. We are quite good at making accurate policy forecasts: the analysis of world politics development which we made in 2007-08 is, sadly, turning out to come true.

Secondly, we have a strong tradition of European Studies. Our experts have been showing for a long time that the European Project is going to experience a crisis because of the initial mistakes in inner policies as well as inevitable complications which arise in such large-scale endeavors.

Currently I am encouraging the faculty members to venture into political economy in their research, but it’s not an easy goal to achieve. Our focus of interest here is two-fold: economy as the tool of the countries’ international policies, and international affairs as a tool for achieving economic goals. This connection is growing stronger, even though 3-4 years ago economy seemed to be the primary driver. However, we are again entering the time of politicized economy, and it offers many interesting opportunities for a researcher.

— Are you doing anything special to get more students involved into research? Are there any regular workshops?

— We do, and such involvement brings very good results. I would like to illustrate this with how we shaped the idea of the 'economic turn to the East'. When I started to develop this idea and assembled a team of several people, we reviewed all the existing publications on this issue – and they proved to be unsatisfying. We chose several Master’s degree students to join the group, and they wrote brilliant papers on Russia’s competitive advantages which can be used in the current economic and political situation, especially for the development of Siberia and the Far East. These former students are now our colleagues; each supervises 3-4 Master’s students and a research group or even one of the programmes our Faculty offers.

Sergey Karaganov is a Doctor of Sciences in World History and a Dean of the Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs. Prof. Karaganov graduated in 1974 from the Department of Economics of the Moscow State University, and did his research for the Doctorate at the Institute of USA and Canada of the Russian Academy of Sciences. He is active in many professional and public organizations, including being an Honorary Chairman of the Presidium of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, Chairman of the Valdai Discussion Club, and a member of the Supervisory Board of the Publishing House 'International Affairs'.

The full text of the March issue of The HSE Look can be found on the website. For more information please visit ifaculty.hse.ru

See also:

A Laboratory, a Department and a Master’s Programme: How are Finances, Intangibles and Sport Connected?

It is not unusual for faculty staff to combine several roles, such as a researcher and a teacher, but sometimes they bring even more to the table.The HSE Look is glad to present an interview with Professor Angel Barajas, who initially joined HSE’s campus in Perm as a Leading Research Fellow of the International Laboratory of Intangible-Driven Economy and recently became the Head of the Department of Finance at HSE St. Petersburg, as well as the supervisor of a Master’s programme.

Faculty of Law: Combining Research and Professional Training

In its latest issue, The HSE Look presents the Faculty of Law in an interview with its Dean - Associate Professor Evgeny Salygin.

Professor Kimberly Martin and Counterfactuals in International Relations Research

On the 17th March 2015 in the European Club, a series of academic encounters organised by the Department of International Relations at the Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs, Professor Kimberly Marten gave a talk asking, ‘Could NATO have avoided expansion?’

Countries Coming Together and Standing against the Dictates of Investors

States are forming alliances to stand against the dictates of international capital and also to successfully attract this capital to their markets, argues the head of HSE’s Department of International Affairs, Maxim Bratersky, in his report 'Political Functions of Regional Trade Agreements'.