‘The Programme Immerses its Students in the Reality of Asia’
Olga Volosyuk, Academic Supervisor of the master’s programme ‘Socioeconomic and Political Development of Modern Asia’, and the programme graduates, share their insights on what the programme teaches and why its alumni are in demand on the job market.
Asian studies is a combination of various academic areas that study the Asian countries. When we were developing the programme, we tried to focus on those areas that are most relevant today. We don’t just train economists or specialists in international relations, we investigate the specific nature of Asia; we look at its history and culture, all of which is essential for understanding the problems of contemporary society.
We managed to come to a reasonable balance between the study of general theoretical and specific applied issues. The learning process pays a lot of attention to transnational relations; the relationships between Asian countries and the West and Russia; analyzing and forecasting the demographic, ethnic, and religious processes; studying economic, military, and political elites; modern technologies; globalization and modernization. We offer a course on doing business in Asia, looking at how it is done in China, Japan, Korea, and Islamic countries.
How to choose your path to Asia
Asia is huge, and it’s impossible to cover all Asia-related issues. This is one of the reasons we tried not to go into too much details in our general courses. The programme’s geography focuses on China, Korea, Japan, and some Arabic countries. But we also attract experts in South-East Asia, Iran, and India, depending on our students’ research interests. Specialization by region allows the students to focus on their future profession, and improve their knowledge in related areas at the same time.
One of the programme’s key features is our use of individual study tracks. Starting from the third module, the students choose subjects from the courses offered by the programme and by the university. They use this option very actively, in order to create an individual curriculum based on their tasks, research and professional interests.
Who applies for the programme
Many of our applicants already have a degree in Asian studies. The programme helps them make their knowledge deeper and stronger, introduces them to the most recent research achievements, and allows them to focus on the areas that will be useful in their future profession.
At the same time, the programme is aimed not only at students with a degree in Asian studies, but in other social sciences and humanities. We welcome students who graduated in economics, international relations, linguistics, geography, political science, history, sociology, management, and other fields. Some of them have chosen a job related to Asia and need some fundamental knowledge in the area. The others are just fascinated with the Orient.
Students who come from other universities and don’t know an Asian language can take an additional course with basic language training, which will hugely expand their opportunities for research and professional application of knowledge.
How to get a double degree
It’s difficult to study Asia theoretically and from a distance, being in Moscow. It’s necessary to immerse in the Asian reality and culture, and the programme offers its students such an opportunity. Our programme is taught in English, and our partner is the City University of Hong Kong. Our students also have the opportunity to choose an internship at any university that cooperates with the programme, the School of Asian Studies, and the HSE Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs.
Our students get degrees from the City University of Hong Kong and go for internships at the Seoul National University and SeoulTech. The faculty has good relations with East China Normal University and Shanghai University. We’ve started negotiations with Northeast Normal University in China, and the University of Foreign Studies in South Korea.
The master’s programme allows students to study for one year in Russia, and in the second year, take a full course (about one year long) abroad. After coming back to HSE, students defend their master’s theses. In this case, they get two degrees. If students stay at HSE for the second year, they continue taking courses as part of the basic curriculum.
Who teaches at the programme
Our teachers are from the School of Asian Studies, from the HSE Faculty of World Economy and the International Relations departments. We also attract researchers and professors from Moscow State University and the Russian Academy of Sciences.
International scholars come to conduct workshops and read lectures at the programme. For example, professors from Seoul National University have taught a course in South Korean foreign policy for two years. Last year, Djauhari Oratmangun, Indonesian Ambassador to Russia, spoke on this country’s foreign policy. Our lecturer Sergey Shaposhnikov conducts classes on Japanese business not only in HSE classrooms, but also at offices of Japanese firms in Moscow. In March 2017, Sergey Kolesnichenko, Head of the Magnitogorsk Iron & Steel Works office in Shanghai, conducted a workshop on doing business in China. He has huge business experience, he has taught MBA and EMBA students at Skolkovo, and will be reading lectures at our programme in the new academic year.
And whoever the professor is, an academician or a young scholar, an experienced professional or a talented theoretician, we maintain an atmosphere of partnership at the programme, where professors are not pedagogues, but colleagues with our students.
How to apply for and study in the programme
We don’t have entrance exams; students are selected as part of portfolio competition. We evaluate the level of education, foreign language skills, students’ participation in contests and conferences, and their publication activities. We look at the applicants’ motivation and recommendations. Information on the application procedure is available on our programme website. I can also answer any questions concerning the application via email, email@example.com. International students may receive full-tuition merit-based scholarships if they apply before February 28, 2017. You can learn more about international admissions process by visiting the website.
We understand that many master’s students combine studies with work. Our class schedule allows students to do just that. The classes start at 4.40 pm and last until 9.00 pm. Classes take place on Malaya Ordynka, close to a metro station, which is also important. But still, studies shouldn’t be compromised due to a conflict of priorities, and this is something we look at very thoroughly.
What the graduates do
The programme celebrated its first anniversary this year – our fifth graduation. You can meet graduates of this programme at the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Economic Development, and the Ministry of Education and Science. They work at various companies, international organizations, and media. Some of them stay at the university and take on careers as researchers. But this is something that it’s better to hear directly from them.
Zhan Prosyanov, 2017 graduate
The choice of this master’s programme was a natural decision for me, because I had studied Asia before, and had gone for a year-long internship in China. The programme offers specialization in one of the Asian regions, but if you choose China, it doesn’t mean you focus only on it. Almost all South-East Asia is part of the so-called ‘Confucian area’. Chinese influence on the history of Korea, Vietnam, Laos, and partly, Indonesia, has been huge. The same is relevant to the contemporary social and economic ties between these countries. There are big Chinese communities and huge streams of investment. In order to understand these countries, one should understand China. And in order to understand China, one should know what is happening in its neighbouring countries.
We shouldn’t project our views of life and culture on the Asian world. For example, the Chinese have another idea of time, totally different of that in the Europeans. We are used to the linear concept of time, and in Asia it is spiral. It’s a difficult thing to do, but one has to try to walk in the shoes of the object of study. If you are able to combine these two attitudes in your head, to come to terms with this duality, you’ll get it.
Speaking about the use of the knowledge I received, as a first-year master’s student, I went for an internship to Roselektronika, a company that is involved in photonics, high-tech production, and is part of Rostech. Today, I’m a leading expert in its international department, and supervise projects focusing on cooperation with Asian countries.
Vladimir Kirichenko, 2017 graduate
I graduated in philology in Luhansk, where I specialized in English and Chinese. But Chinese was what attracted me the most. I went to Chinese universities twice, and spent a year and a half there in total. I didn’t study economics, politics, and international relations then, but I felt that was something I needed, and started looking for a master’s programme to get the appropriate training. I put together a portfolio, passed an interview, and found myself part of HSE.
I was trying to get maximum knowledge, and I believe I succeeded in it. At least Alexei Maslov, supervisor of my master’s thesis on higher education in China, when he read it, said that it was one of the best papers on the topic he’s read. It also stirred some interest at the Doctoral School of Education, and I got two offers after the master’s programme: from the doctoral school to participate in their projects on cooperation with Chinese universities, and from an Indonesian university, where I could study PR and do research. I chose the second option, and now I’m looking forward to one and a half years of studies and work at the London School of Public Relations in Jakarta. In my future career, I’m also more inclined to do research, rather than politics or business.
Natalia Drachuk, 2017 graduate
When I entered the master’s programme, I studied at the City University of Hong Kong as part of the double degree programme, defended my thesis at HSE, and went back to Hong Kong to work. My key impressions from studies are not only about the professional aspects, but about personal growth. I saw some different approaches to learning and a different form of teacher to student communication. I became sure that any perspective may be true with reasonable arguments, and there is nothing ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, things just are ‘different’.
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HSE has been offering courses in Asian Studies for 10 years now with numerous departments and programmes producing research in the field and offering in-depth courses. In December 2019, the HSE Academic Council approved the opening of a Joint Department with the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IOS RAS). How will the IOS RAS transfer its vast experience and resource to its new home at HSE? And what traditions in the study and teaching of Asian studies already exist at HSE?
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