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‘Studying at HSE Was a Chance for Me to Get to Know Some Supportive Seniors, Knowledgeable Professors, and Wonderful Friends’

‘Studying at HSE Was a Chance for Me to Get to Know Some Supportive Seniors, Knowledgeable Professors, and Wonderful Friends’

© HSE University

On August 4, 2023, a pre-defence of the thesis on ‘Refugee-Host Community Conflict over Assimilation, Integration, and State Legitimacy: The Case of Rohingyas in Bangladesh’ by Md. Reza Habib will be held at HSE University. The preliminary defence will take place at a joint meeting of the HSE School of Sociology and the International Laboratory for Social Integration Research. Md. Reza Habib shared his experience of studying and preparing his PhD with the HSE News Service.

Md. Reza Habib, from Bangladesh, is currently a PhD research student in sociology at the Doctoral School of Sociology at HSE University in Moscow. He earned his bachelor's, master's, and M.Phil. degrees in anthropology from the University of Dhaka in Bangladesh. He also completed a second master's programme in Population and Development in 2019 at HSE University.

Md. Reza Habib, PhD student in sociology at the Doctoral School of Sociology

My three years at this university were focused on research, which improved my knowledge, abilities, and skills. It was a wonderful chance for me to get to know some supportive seniors, knowledgeable professors, and wonderful friends.

For the duration of my academic year, I resided in Moscow. Sincerely, I adore Moscow, especially the excellent and reasonably priced metro. Living expenses weren't very high. The university has equipped the dorms with a variety of amenities for the students. Additionally, the city's many historical sites, parks, museums, and cultural events always attracted me, and I spent a lot of time there.

During my PhD programme, I studied a number of significant subjects that improved my theoretical knowledge and skills and perfectly assisted my research activities

These subjects included comparative and historical sociology, bibliographies, and pedagogy.

For my PhD, I was awarded a Russian government quota scholarship. I also found that the department of Sociology is research-oriented and my research interests perfectly correspond to its research portfolio. In this department, I also met a number of well-known professors and experienced researchers.

The topic of my current research is "Refugee-Host Community Conflict over Assimilation, Integration, and State Legitimacy: The Case of Rohingyas in Bangladesh". I will be defending my PhD thesis through publication. As required by the university, I have been able to publish several articles in various reputed journals.

I meet my scientific adviser, Dr Arnab Roy Chowdhury, both virtually and in person to discuss my work progress, as well as receive advice on my work and how to navigate research and publish articles in journals. I am planning to publish more research in reputable journals by engaging myself in the academic world.

Arnab Roy Chowdhury, Assistant Professor at the School of Sociology, Academic Supervisor 

Md. Reza Habib has been a very special student for me for multiple reasons. He comes from a modest, mofussil [rural] family background in Bangladesh and has worked very hard to come up to this level. In the past four years, since 2019, he has drastically transformed himself in all possible ways to become a scholar. He improved his academic capabilities, engaged deeply with his PhD topic on Rohingya refugee and host-community conflict issues in Bangladesh, and completed his highly immersive fieldwork. The supervision over the last four years was organised both online and offline. We regularly meet at least once a month to discuss various scholarly issues and papers informally over coffee. These informal discussions on empirical and conceptual issues shaped his academic persona and transformed him slowly but steadily.

We decided to have a PhD with publications (rather than a thesis), which was indeed a challenging “project” to undertake, as he was required to publish at least three papers in Scopus-featured journals

Initially, we had to work very hard, and it took more than a year for the first paper to get accepted and published. Eventually, Reza was able to publish six papers, one of which is in a Scopus Q1 journal and the rest mostly in Scopus Q3 and Q2 journals. Only two of them are co-authored and the rest single-authored, which surpassed my expectations.

Despite difficulties and restrictions due to COVID-19, he attended an international conference in Vietnam in 2021 and formed collaborations with renowned scholars such as Professor John Hutnyk, who is very well-known for his path-breaking work in cultural studies and has published widely. Despite restricted mobility during the pandemic, under my tutelage over the last four years, Reza has also formed collaborations with scholars from James Cook University (Singapore branch) and the University of Sharjah, UAE. I strongly believe that international collaborations are crucial for knowledge production and academic mobility, which would eventually shape his ideas and scholarship in the long run. He did all of these along with his part-time job, which was indeed a difficult task and required the ability to multitask.

After he successfully defends his PhD in the next 4–5 months, he will be the first PhD produced under my supervision. That would not only make me extremely proud of his achievement, but also more confident about my capabilities. I wish him every success in life.

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