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Regular version of the site

Students in World Politics

Mark Manuilov, a second-year student of the HSE Faculty of Management master’s course, told us about a new student initiative –a Russian-American forum involving the HSE, several other Moscow universities and Stanford University. Mark is one of the students who organized this project.

- How did the idea of this project arise?

- In autumn 2008 a group of students from Stanford University and the Moscow State University began developing a project that would enable U.S. and Russian students to get together and discuss some key problems in world politics. This initiative looked all the more relevant taking into account a cool down in our countries'relations because of the Georgian war. But later it became clear that the project expanded beyond the realms of purely political discussions and also covered issues of economy and international trade.

The first joint conference took place in late 2008. And at that moment the Higher School of Economics, the Moscow State University of Foreign Affairs and the Academy of National Economy joined the project. The topic of the conference was Russian-American relations. The participants discussed, amongst other things, the issues of oil-and-gas politics, including those of building pipelines to Europe, both with and without Russian participation. Much attention was dedicated to the problems connected with the world financial crisis, which was peaking during the conference.

- Who is responsible for the organization and funding of this programme?

- SURF (Stanford US-Russia Forum), a student-managed group, created with the support of the Stanford Centre for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies and the four participating Russian universities, is responsible for the organizational aspects of the programme. There is also an Advisory Board which includes many prominent Russian and American experts:Vladimir Mau, rector of Moscow's Academy of National Economy;Alexei Bogaturov, pro-rector of the Moscow State University of Foreign Affairs;Coit Blacker, director of Stanford's Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies;Norman Naimark, director of Stanford's Bing Overseas Studies Program;and Gabriella Safran, director of Stanford's Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies.

The participating Russian universities cover the costs of the students'travel and visa expenses for their visits to Stanford. Stanford University pays for accommodation and board of all the visiting students from Russia. So, for the students, the visit will be totally free.

Now we are in the process of fundraising:we are negotiating with some Russian companies. Our American colleagues have already raised about 33 thousand U.S. dollars from sponsors as well as charity funds, such as, for example, Strauss Foundation. In Russia, ‘Renaissance Capital'has agreed to participate in the programme.

- Could you give us more details on the first stage of the programme?

- Following the selection process, a group will be formed which will include students from Moscow universities as well as Stanford students. They will work simultaneously in Stanford and in Moscow.

The participating students will listen to a series of lectures via video-conference. The lectures will be given by prominent economists, political scientists and businessmen from Russia and the U.S. We also plan to attract leading HSE professors to deliver lectures. All the workshops will have a video-conference format. Russian students will have the opportunity to ask questions to American experts, and Americans, in turn, - to Russian. We shall hopefully make these workshops available to all interested HSE students.

The first stage of the programme lasts 8 weeks. After that, the students will start working on their projects.

- What will that work involve?

- The students will be divided into groups of 4, 2 American and 2 Russian students. Each group will work under the supervision of Russian and American experts on a specific problem of Russian-American relations.

- When will the students go to Stanford and what events will take place there?

- We're planning their visit for April. It will take 1 week, which will include the final presentations of their projects. The students will also meet the university teachers, as well as American politicians and economists. For example, our American friends have contacted the former U.S. Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, who is now working in Stanford, and have received a preliminary agreement from her to speak to the programme participants.

- What will happen to the projects after the students present them?

- The project material will be sent out for reference to Russian and American politicians and businessmen and also to the institutions responsible for the development of international relations, such as the Russian MFA and the U.S. Department of State. The project presentations will be available to everyone on the website of our organization.

We believe these projects will help some of the participants to find jobs. Russian companies willing to become sponsors of the programme are interested in offering employment to the authors of the best projects.

- What's the first step for students who are interested in taking part?

- Admission for the programme is already open. On the website of our organization you can find an application form which should be completed and returned by October 5th. Students of all faculties can apply. Candidates will first go through an informal interview where they show not only their academic knowledge, but also their desire to study Russian-American relations in detail. After that, the final list of the programme participants will be drawn up and approved by the universities'management.

- Are you planning similar projects in future?

- Now we are creating a foundation which will be a legal representative of our organization. We plan to further develop the programme, and aim to organize a conference in Moscow in 2010 and to invite students not only from Stanford, but also from Harvard, Yale, Wharton, and Columbia University. We also plan to expand the number of Russian representatives. We are also keen to get Saint-Petersburg, Novosibirsk and Kubansky State Universities involved in the programme.


As for the Russian-American Forum anybody who is interested in this programme and would like further details can contact us by phone 7 (916) 075-67-02 or e-mail markmanuilov@gmail.com.


Oleg Seregin, HSE Web News Service