‘Baltic Practice’ in Oslo
On March 10th the HSE ’Baltic Practice’ project, which will take place this year in Oslo from August 1st –8th, was unveiled at the HSE.
The Oslo meeting will be an anniversary, 10th summer extra-mural session of this applied research project, which is run by the Higher School of Economics. It is carried out in collaboration with leading European universities and for many years has received the support of the Council of Europe which sends its practicing experts to the sessions. According to Nina Belyaeva, the Project's academic supervisor and Head of the HSE Faculty of Applied Political Science Department of Public Policy, the forthcoming ‘Baltic Practice'will have a number of special features.
Firstly, the work of each of the seven research groups participating in the ‘Practice'will have a multidisciplinary character, and will be headed by two representatives from two different HSE faculties. Secondly, all groups will be international:each of them will involve international students and experts. In addition to this, the welcoming party will give the project its institutional support. Among the organizations supporting the project are the University of Oslo and the Wergeland Centre, created by the EU and the Norwegian government for the promotion of international education in democracy and European integration. The project's traditional participants are of course, continuing their participation:universities from Germany, Italy, Belgium and other European countries, as well as the largest Russian universities - the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, the Saint-Petersburg State University, Immanuel Kant Russian State University of Kaliningrad, and many others.
- This project began with the Baltic region which may be thought of as a bridge between Russia and Europe - Nina Belyaeva reminded us - but now, as you can see, we are not limited only to the Baltics and we might even attract universities from other continents to participate in the project.
This last phrase was undoubtedly addressed to Professor John Dale from George Mason University, USA, who visited the presentation as part of his 10-day visit to the HSE and became a member of the project's Editorial Board. Incidentally, one of the topics developed by Professor Dale at his university fits with the theme of research of the working group called ‘Corporate social responsibility and transformation of global economy'and headed by Olga Melitonyan, Assistant Professor at the HSE Department of Public Policy. According to her, the work of the group will be dedicated to researching the new type of social behaviour of global corporations during the crisis period and their willingness to become a special type of ‘corporate citizen'.
Ann-Sofie Nyman, consultant at the Helsinki movement for human rights, introduced the Human Rights working group. She stated that the idea of universality of those rights and their inalterability in any part of the world is now being questioned. Some experts insist that the human rights system should be adjusted to the cultural and historical situation of each country. Such an ‘independent'approach to the problem is also relevant for Russia, and here it influences not only the process of civil society development, but also relations with Europe. ‘We study these phenomena and try to find out how the implementation of human rights influences the social development of certain countries'said Ms. Nyman, outlining her group's work.
Research by the working group called ‘Local Governance and Local Democracy'is built on the intersection of several topics:local governance as well as economics, law and sociology. ‘It is interesting for us to compare local governance in large cities like Moscow with that in other regions - said Olga Chernenko, Senior Professor at the HSE Department of Constitutional and Municipal Law - and since this is an international school, we would like to discuss the experience gained in this area in other countries as well as the differences in national approaches to this problem'.
The project of the ‘Mathematical Models for Democracy Evaluation'working group, presented at the meeting by Dmitry Zaitsev, Professor at the HSE Department of Public Policy, will surely be of interest for those who involved in theoretical research and mathematical modeling. ‘In our work we move from the simple and recurring talks about democracy to the definition and research of real democracy level indicators in different countries with the use of modern mathematical methods'- Dmitry Zaitsev explained.
‘University as Res Publica'will be the topic of research in the working group led by Nina Belyaeva. The research participants are encouraged to think how university culture changes and institutionalizes and what impact the Bologna Process has on it. Under market pressure, universities are starting to fight for ranking, high admission rate and educational profitability. Is this process reversible? Can universities improve citizens or are they doomed to use higher education as a new marketing tool which guarantees profit? In Oslo the participants of this group will try to find answers to these questions.
Another unusual topic of the ‘Practice'is ‘Language of Public Policy. Anita Soboleva, Assistant Professor at the HSE Department of Public Policy, encouraged the participation of those who are interested in how speech, visual images and stereotypes influence political processes, and the perception of politics and politicians. Another important question is where the manipulative or irresponsible usage of this language may lead?
And finally, the ‘Social trust, responsibility and economic development'group leaded by Alexis Belyanin, Head of the HSE Laboratory of Experimental and Behavioural Economics, will research the mechanisms which reflect how trust between social and professional communities influences the pace and character of economic development of different countries.
You can find detailed information on ‘Baltic Practice', its history and partners, on the project's website.
Oleg Seregin, HSE News Service
Photos by Nikita Benzoruk