‘Public Administration Is Impossible Outside of Real Politics’
In September, the School of Political Science and the School of Public Administration at the Faculty of Social Sciences will merge into the School of Politics and Governance. The opening of the newly unified school will bring big changes to the structure and contents of educational programmes.
Key achievements of the School of Political Science and the School of Public Administration:
Top 100 of the QS subject ranking in Politics & International Studies
75th in the QS faculty ranking in Social Sciences & Management
The bachelor’s programme in Political Science is accredited by the ZEvA and is one of the leaders among Russian universities in terms of the quality of enrolment
Why the Schools Are Merging
The subject areas of political science and public administration are closely inter-related. Many universities therefore situate these fields of study in single departments of politics and public administration (such as the London School of Economics, Harvard, Georgetown University, Cornell University and many others).
In addition to obvious subject intersections, these two fields are united by common career opportunities for graduates. As participants at the recent HSE University Academic Council session discussed, many graduates in Russia from programmes in political science, as well as in public administration, pursue careers at public institutions, non-profit organizations, as well as at public and municipal administration bodies. Of course, this does not mean that programmes in the two fields are identical. Each of them maintains an academic profile that focuses on the demands of the field and potential employers.
Head of the School of Politics and Governance
I’d like to emphasize that a School at HSE University doesn’t directly work with students. Rather, its task is to develop the human resources of our degree programmes, which means working with lecturers, creating conditions for their research, and assessing their academic level, including publication activities.
In practice, the functions of a school turn out to be wider and often include analyzing programme and course efficiency, supporting student internships and projects, and helping to organize conferences, workshops etc. For example, the School of Public Administration has created a working group for organizing student projects that collaborate with or serve the current interests of governmental bodies. Thanks to this, student teams, starting from the second year of undergraduate studies, work on real projects, the results of which are really used in public administration, at public companies or non-profit organizations. Every year we receive letters of gratitude from top executives of these organizations.
As students implement project assignments, they get to know their potential places of work—the tasks and deadlines—which means they gain real-life experience with their potential employers. This is something that cannot be provided by an academic lecture in the classroom.
One more characteristic features of the new School is its close cooperation with HSE research institutes, first and foremost of which are the Institute for Public Administration and Governance and the Institute for Applied Political Studies. These institutes have received the status of associated departments with the Faculty of Social Sciences and will be more actively involved in designing the curricula of the School’s degree programmes, as well as the implementation and teaching of these programmes. In addition, lecturers and students of the School will have more opportunities to participate in the institutes’ projects.
What Students of Political Science Can Expect
We have worked on improving the curriculum for several months. The curriculum authors had the task of incorporating new elements while preserving the programme’s existing competitive advantages: the teaching staff and the core subjects that form the programme identity.
We are going to preserve our academic track in Political Analysis, which includes advanced methods of politics and society research, primarily quantitative ones. At the same time, we are reinforcing the track in Political Administration, thanks to closer association with practice-oriented work, reforms in profile subjects, and added electives.
The new subjects in the track in Political Administration will be taught by lecturers and experts invited by the HSE Institute for Applied Political Studies.
The programme will maintain its three required subjects in programming, which is a unique feature for political science education at Russian and most international universities. We are also leaving several courses in mathematical statistics and modeling. Expanding the list of elective courses will allow students to build more flexible individual study tracks.
What Students of Public and Municipal Administration Can Expect
The changes in the public administration programme have been planned and expected. They have passed international accreditation, and the steps to improve them require a more attentive consideration of competing universities’ development, as well as discussions with employers and international partners.
The classical triad of our students’ education is economics, law and administration. Now, thanks to the schools’ merger, the programme design will be able to undergo a minor but quite important change: its curriculum will be enriched with certain subject fields from political science. Obviously, public administration is impossible outside of real politics. The students will be able to better study the political aspect of administrative decision-making at public organizations. This will improve the quality of teaching and foster our graduates’ competitive advantages.
Senior students will be able to choose one of the two concentrations: Financial Management in the Public Sector or Administration in Socially Important Fields. They are highly relevant for the demands of the job market.
At the same time, the students will have an opportunity to choose a minor, in order to diversify their academic profiles, as well as take courses in programming and ICT. In the context of the economy and public administration, which are rapidly becoming more and more digitalized, these skills will certainly be useful for the graduates.
Andrei Melville, Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, spoke with the HSE News Service about the merger of two schools and the outlook for political science at HSE University.
While much of the focus on politics and global affairs over the past several decades has been on democratization, the most striking thing about this period has been the survival and spread of authoritarian regimes, argues Graeme Gill, Emeritus Professor in the Department of Government and International Relations at the University of Sydney. Professor Gill is one of the presenters at the upcoming XX April International Academic Conference on Economic and Social Development, scheduled this year for April 9-12 at the Higher School of Economics.
More than twenty years after the collapse of the socialist bloc, virtually none of the post-communist countries have attained the level of socioeconomic development characteristic of advanced democracies. Likewise, none of the post-communist countries have emerged as successful autocracies with high-quality public institutions, such as those found in Singapore or Oman. Professor Andrei Melville, Dean of the HSE Faculty of Social Sciences, and Mikhail Mironyuk, Associate Professor of the HSE School of Political Science, examine possible reasons why it is so.
In San Francisco, the 111th annual meeting of the American Political Science Association (APSA) – one of the largest international conferences in the field of political science – recently took place. Scholars from HSE presented their research on forum panels such as ‘Fiscal Politics in Federal Systems’, ‘Social Policy in Non-democracies: Dynamics of Social Policy Debates in Russia’, ‘Incumbents and Elections in Developing Countries’, and ‘Power in 21st Century World Politics’.
Students of the international Master’s programme in Comparative Social Research, which opened in 2014, spent their first semester studying at the Moscow campus of the Higher School of Economics; the second semester was spent in St. Petersburg. Another six months will be devoted to study abroad. Mobility in the educational process is an important principle of the programme that allows future sociologists to better understand social reality. The English-language programme turned out to of interest not only to Russian students, but also to graduates of prestigious foreign universities.
Andrei Melville, Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, reflects on the direction of political science today.
Dr. Dina Balalaeva, who will begin a tenure-track position at the Faculty of Social Sciences at the HSE in September, recently completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the HSE. She received her PhD in Political Science at the State University of New York at Binghamton in 2013. She agreed to speak with the HSE news service about her decision to make her career at the HSE and her plans for future research and teaching.
On March 13, 2014, Ronald Suny, Professor of Social and Political History at the University of Michigan and Emeritus Professor of Political Science and History at the University of Chicago, delivered a public lecture at the HSE Saint Petersburg.