To ‘Mark’ the HSE on the World Map
Martin Carnoy, Professor at the Stanford University (USA) and Academic Supervisor of the HSE International Laboratory for Educational Policy Research, told us about some of the tasks and plans for the Laboratory.
— Professor Carnoy, please tell us more about your cooperation with the HSE. When and how did it start?
— I met Isak Froumin in France at an international conference on the economics of education in 2005. As often happens at such forums, we discussed various issues, including opportunities for cooperation between our two universities. Three years later, in 2008, we got such an opportunity: Russian Ministry of Education and Science and U.S. Department of State Bureau of Education started developing joint partnership programmes as part of FIPSE (Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education). We prepared a joint application for the FIPSE contest and received a two year grant which helped us to build a basis for partner relations.
We set ourselves a number of mutually beneficial tasks in two key areas: leading Stanford economists had to promote the development of master’s programmes at the HSE Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs, and experts from the Higher School of Economics had to participate in the development of the programmes at Stanford University Center for Russian, East European & Eurasian Studies.
The first group of Stanford staff members came to Moscow in January 2009, then we developed the SURF (Stanford US-Russia Forum) programme of student cooperation where not only HSE and Stanford students participated, but also students from many other Russian and American universities. Visits by Russian colleagues to Stanford provoked big interest from American economists and stimulated a number of studies on various aspects of Russian economic development.
Just recently Boris Kuznetsov, Professor at the HSE Faculty of Economics, read a course of lectures to Stanford students on the Russian economy, which was of interest not only for the students, but also for the university’s researchers. In the near future two more HSE lecturers will go to Stanford and will carry out a comparative analysis of some courses of the two universities. In addition to this, as part of the annual Stanford Week project, the best Stanford professors come to the HSE to read lecture courses for the students and hold master classes for the Russian colleagues.
We have outlined three educational areas which need to be developed at the HSE: economic aspects of various risks insurance, ecological economics and educational economic. My work at the HSE is related to the development of the third area, economics of education. This area is still not studied enough, and there are just a few researchers in the world who are involved in these issues, and that’s why we are willing to create here a large center for research into the economic and sociological problems of education.
— Do you mean the HSE International Laboratory for Educational Policy Research?
— Yes, but in my view this project is larger than it appears to my Russian colleagues: they call this department an international laboratory, and I call it a world-class research center. We are continuing to discuss the structure of this department, and today its name and future status are of no special importance. The main thing is to unite the effort of all the HSE experts who are already involved in the study of educational strategies and economics of education and improve the quality of their research. It seems to me that there are many researchers at the HSE – economists, sociologists, psychologists – who independently from each other work on the same range of issues related to education. Our priority is to overcome their isolation, to provide regular interaction and to find more effective organizational means for their joint work.
I think that in addition to research, the staff should also be involved in the improvement of teaching and include fresh data from their research and productive methods in their lecture materials for undergraduate and master’s courses. Today only one course on the economics of education is read at the HSE. I believe this is not enough to provide sufficient knowledge and to develop research in this area. The Higher School of Economics works in close cooperation with the Russian government, and the results of research into economics of education will not only influence state educational policy, but considerably improve its quality.
— What tasks are the laboratory staff expected to solve?
— Education is a complex field of human activity which needs multidimensional research by various experts. We should build cooperation with the psychologists who study both the process of education of children and adults and the means to effectively comprehend the material and the objectivity of the further testing and the problems of interaction between teacher and student. We need sociologists who analyze the data from surveys and tests and study the complexities of social aspects of the educational policy. We should work with mathematicians who are involved in test design, processing test results and compiling different rankings. And of course, we need economists who suggest methods for the analysis of educational processes. The Higher School of Economics is a perfect ground for such complex studies, since it has already gathered within its walls all the specialists who will participate in the laboratory projects. To cut a long story short, our task is to study the important processes and key problems of Russian education, to evaluate its positives and negatives, to understand how it in an international context, and of course, to suggest some ways to improve its quality.
The staff of the laboratory (or, in the future, the center) will involve a number of research teams. One of them will be represented by the members of the Institute for Educational Studies Center of Education Quality Monitoring of the Institute for Educational Studies which is headed by its academic supervisor Isak Froumin. This team carries out successful and very interesting studies into the causalities between the quality of education, school and out-of-school factors. Another team, lead by Irina and Tatiana Abankina, studies the financing of education. Their work has a more applied character, but it this sphere is very promising, since it is not normally given enough attention.
Our laboratory will be happy to cooperate with colleagues involved in educational problems at the HSE Institute of Institutional Studies.
At our weekly seminars we shall discuss research ideas, methods and current work.
— How often are you planning to be in Moscow?
— I shall spend at least two months a year in Moscow through a number of 1-2-week visits. At all other times I shall be closely connected with my colleagues via e-mail, phone and Skype. I have already prepared for myself a list of projects which my HSE colleagues are involved in, and I am going to discuss the most important questions and problems with each of them.
— What are your plans in the near future?
— Speaking about forthcoming events, on April 13th an international conference will start at Stanford University, where Yaroslav Kuzminov and Isak Froumin will present their reports on the reforms in Russian education.
I hope that in two years we shall be able to organize an international conference in Moscow on the results of the laboratory’s work and published some of the most promising works in international journals. This means, we are going to ‘mark’ the Higher School of Economics as a new point on the world map of research centers in economics of education.
Valentina Gruzintseva, HSE News Service
Photos by Nikita Benzoruk