Russian-American Cooperation in Public Administration Education and Research
Alexei Barabashev, Dean of the HSE Faculty of Public Administration spoke to us about recent developments in our programme of cooperation with US universities .
- Alexei Georgievich, could you tell us about your recent visit to the USA? What was the main purpose of the trip?
- We had several tasks:to visit two universities - George Mason University and Indiana University - and elaborate our advanced programme of cooperation with our American colleagues. Also we wanted to participate in the annual Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management (APPAM) conference in Washington, DC. This Association is a world leader in public administration and unites almost all faculties of this specialization in the US, Canada and Mexico. About 600 experts took part in the conference. It is interesting that the forum showed that today administration is beginning to use mathematical methods and models:mathematicians, economists and econometricians are all getting involved in this sphere. As proof of this, the latest Nobel Prize winner in economics, Elinor Ostrom from Indiana University, with whom we have been actively cooperating for a long time, is in fact an outstanding expert both in economics and public administration. This event was a unique precedent in the history of the award. I would also like to add that there are many high-level practitioners in the Association who work in this field. It was extremely interesting to listen to their reports, since you could see in what direction the whole world of public administration analytics is currently moving and what new initiatives there are in this area.
- Are any Russian universities or research centres members of this Association?
- Our Faculty of Public Administration has been the only Russian member of this Association since 2007, and it was important for us to ensure that APPAM is well aware of Russia and the HSE particularly. So, the APPAM administration proposed something very unexpected and pleasing:that the HSE should host a conference in October 2011.
In additon to the annual conference which is always held in Washington, the Association holds 2 or 3 additional conferences annually on key areas of its research projects. It holds these conferennces in different locations usually in some of the the most promising institutions, often national leaders in public administration. This offer is extraordinary since, as far as I know, Eastern Europe has never before hosted such a conference.
- Congratulations! What will be the topic of the conference?
- The main topic of the conference will be Public service delivery. This is a sophisticated and complex area, which has long been developed both by the HSE Institute of Public Administration under the leadership of the HSE Vice Rector Andrey Klimenko as well as our Faculty, and the Department of Theory and Practice of Public Administration. With its in depth research and educational projects in this area the HSE has gained prestige and recognition of our work from governmental bodies of Russia.
- What did you discuss in your meetings with the US universities?
- For several years now the HSE has been cooperating with George Mason University. In particular, the research activity of this university in public administration is very close to the work we do in our Faculty. We have come to an agreement in principle on the double-degree programme of the HSE and George Mason University in the area of public administration. Generally, the main problem with double US-Russian diplomas is that the price of education in the US is 3 or 4 times higher than in Russia, and such programmes with Russian universities are usually unprofitable for Americans. But we seem to have found a good solution. According to our plan, some of our courses will be recognized and accredited by our US partners, which will allow us to significantly reduce the price of education. As part of this programme we will be starting exchange programmes for faculty members as early as in 2010, so that they have an opportunity to jointly develop new courses, geared towards the needs of both universities. We also plan to conduct joint online classes for Russian and American students and to develop a new system of knowledge evaluation. Apart from that, as early as this summer a Summer school in Public administration will be run for Russian students in the US, and for American students in Moscow.
- How many students will go to the US, and how many US students are you planning to welcome to Russia?
- We are planning to create a group of 15 - 20 students and hope that our partners will create a group of approximately the same size. Over two weeks they will not only attend lecture courses and participate in seminars, but meet public officials from both countries. Our students will meet congressmen in Washington, and for US students we are ready to offer a special programme in English on the most relevant problems of state and local administration in Russia. And of course they will also meet representatives of Russian federal government bodies.
- Are you planning any joint research projects?
- Yes, we have come to an agreement on the organization of a joint research seminar which will be a part of the HSE's programme as a research university. The first seminar will be dedicated to two important topics:administrative reform and the reformation of public service. In the near future we shall discuss the format of the seminar, potential participating experts and analysts from both sides as well as the dates and venue. I would also like to mention that we conduct training for acting public administration officers - so-called Executive Training. And George Mason University is ready to welcome Russian officials for the part of the programme which concerns foreign practice of public service, and offer business meetings in Washington, DC.
- Is the programme of cooperation between the HSE and Indiana University equally successful?
- We have had long-term relations with Indiana University. Three years ago we worked with the School of Public and Environmental Affairs on a project funded by USAID, a US agency which finances and supports the most promising academic inter-university ties and international cooperation. From the US side the project was led by Maureen Pirog, Editor-in-Chief of the АРРАМ Journal of Policy Analysis and Management and an extraordinary researcher. And though the USAID project came to an end, our connections continued through a bilateral agreement and have included regular an exchange programme for teaching staff. For example, in summer 2009 Nikolay Klishch, Head of Department of the HSE Institute of Public Administration and Associate Professor at out Faculty, a prominent expert in administrative reform and public service, worked in SPEA. And this spring Maureen Pirog will come to Moscow to be a plenary speaker at the HSE annual conference. Incidentally, during our visit to the USA, a member of out Faculty was invited to join the Editorial Board of the Journal of Public Policy Research, and Alexander Obolonskiy, Deputy Dean for Research of our Faculty, agreed to take on this responsibility. We have agreed on several joint research projects. For example, field projects carried out by our Department of Local Administration will now be bilateral. Our research group will conduct analysis of local communities'relations with local governments, and US colleagues will carry out a similar research in the US. In the future we are planning to realize a comparative analysis of these results, as well as student and professors'exchange, and then, to wrap it all up, there will be a joint publication entitled ‘Specifics of Local Administration:Russia and the US'. To me, this project seems very promising and interesting.
Valentina Gruzintseva, HSE News Service