HSE Urban Specialists Create New Profession
Staff and students of HSE Vysokovsky Graduate School of Urbanism discussed the prospects for the development of Urban Studies at HSE and in Russia at a meeting with the university’s senior management.
Why does HSE need Urban Studies?
Rector Yaroslav Kuzminov said that HSE has developed to become what is in the English-speaking world seen as a ‘comprehensive university’. The HSE has been expanding its remit beyond economics, to engineering, physics, and life sciences. The university was created on the initiative of a group of academics, and its growth continues to be generated by academics’ initiatives, the Rector stressed. That is what happened with Urban Studies specialists, who are to establish their own academic discipline, while also engaging with society, implementing applied projects and interacting with colleagues from other faculties. This collaboration is not limited to joint research. The rector suggested that the staff of the Graduate School of Urbanism consider holding a Road Show at HSE, that would enable students and teachers from other schools and faculties to learn about the opportunities for working with Urban Studies specialists.
Will Urban Studies become its own profession?
In creating the HSE Graduate School of Urban Studies, founder and first dean Alexander Vysokovsky sought to reflect the fact that urban research and development can no longer be limited to traditional disciplines such as architecture and urban development. ‘Essentially, we’re talking about the creation of a new profession,’ the current Dean Alexei Novikov said. ‘One that represents a synthesis of classical urban development with a wide variety of different subject areas: urban economics, urban sociology, work with spontaneous data generated by the urban environment, among others.’ However, lists of contemporary Russian professions and specialisms do not include urban studies. No professional or educational standards for urban studies have been developed to date. Much of the discussion focused on how this can best be corrected.
Back in the late 1980s, there was the Union of Soviet Urban Studies Specialists, noted director of the Institute for Transport Economics and Transport Policy Studies at HSE Mikhail Blinkin. But it ceased to exist in 1991, and urban studies specialists were again lumped in with architects. ‘That is how we came to have the situation we see today, where there is not seen as being any distinction between urban studies specialists, urban development specialists and architects.’
This issue should not be exaggerated, but nor should it be underestimated, Academic Supervisor of the School Nadezhda Kosareva, noted. ‘This debate is not only being had within the education system, but also in decision-making circles’ she said. ‘The battle to have a role in city management is raging at all levels.’ In order to win official recognition, urban studies specialists must institutionalize themselves, for example by setting up an association, and by developing their own standards, as well as by presenting the academic results of their work, Yaroslav Kuzminov said.
What has already been achieved?
In the five years of its existence, Graduate School of Urbanism has achieved significant successes in education and research, Alexei Novikov said. In 2016, along with the now-traditional MA programme 'Urban Development and Spatial Planning', the School has launched a joint programme with Strelka Institute in Advanced Urban Design, which combines a research-based approach typically seen in university education with a project-media-based segment of the type Strelka is known for. There are a number of different research groups and laboratories operating under the Graduate School of Urbanism including a Laboratory of Urban Field Research with a Сentre for the Analysis of Spatial Data, and a Laboratory of Advocacy Planning. The School hopes that this laboratory will help the idea of planning advocacy (professional representation for the interests of different groups in the urban planning process) develop into an institution.
Under the auspices of the former chief-architect of Barcelona, Vicente Guallart, an international Laboratory for Experimental Urban Design has been set up, with the hope that it will become a ‘magnet’ for Russian and international students and researchers. Guallart also plans to set up a ‘fab lab’ and observation programme covering the city and technology rooted in the principle of ‘learning by doing’.
In 2016, the School launched a new journal ‘Urban Studies and Practices’. The Graduate School of Urbanism will continue to develop its broader educational projects: public lectures on Wednesdays in the Dostoyevsky Library, a school for prospective students, and presentations delivered as part of architecture and urban studies biennales (this year to be held in Rotterdam and Venice).
The Graduate School of Urbanism is one of the youngest sections at the university, not only by the date on which it was founded but also judging by the average age of its staff – the majority of whom are under 30.
Maria Melnikova, a graduate of the HSE Vysokovsky Graduate School of Urbanism Master’s programme inUrban Development and Spatial Planning, has written a book entitled Not Just Prefabs: The German Experience of Working with Mass Housing Neighbourhoods. She describes how Germany investigates and solves problems of housing in the city suburbs. Maria spoke with the HSE News Service about her interest in this topic, what she thinks about urban renewal and what she does in Berlin.
Studying in an English-taught curriculum, working with big data, learning the internet of things, and studying smart city technologies—these are some of the key features of the Master’s Programme ‘Prototyping Future Cities’ offered by the Vysokovsky Graduate School of Urbanism. Read on to learn more reasons why future urbanists choose the programme.
Traditional urban planning in the United States and Europe developed in response to the epidemics of cholera, tuberculosis, and typhoid. In an op-ed for RBC, Nadezhda Khort, curator of the Shukhov Laboratory of Experimental Urban Design and the Master’s programme ‘Prototyping Future Cities’ in the Vysokovsky Graduate School of Urbanism, considers the skills and practices cities should employ in post-pandemic urban development.
In 15 years, the share of self-driving passenger vehicles on Moscow’s roads will exceed 60%. However, this change will not have a significant impact if personal vehicle travel is not reduced and car sharing services are not expanded. For the first time, HSE researchers have assessed the effects of self-driving cars on the city. In their study, Alexei Zomarev and Maria Rozhenko lay out predictions for 2030 and 2035.
After a week off, HSE students returned to their online classes this week. HSE News spoke with instructors of the Vysokovsky Graduate School of Urbanism about what kinds of new strategies and approaches they are using in their online instruction.
Migration, both domestic and abroad, is playing a major role in transforming the world’s largest cities, and Moscow is no exception. Researchers at HSE University, the Institute of Geography of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IGRAN) and Strelka KB identified which cities’ residents are buying newly built apartments in the capital and how economic inequality between Russia’s regions is changing the face of the city.
In December 2019, Shukhov Lab – the HSE Laboratory for Experimental Urban Design – is turning three years old. For its anniversary, it has set up a gallery with collages depicting future images of Moscow. Before the close of this year, the Moscow-2050 project goes toShenzhen Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture in China.
Charlotte Rottiers is a master’s exchange student from Ghent University (Belgium). This semester she is taking courses at HSE University on urban planning in the ‘Prototyping Future Cities’ Master’s Programme as well as courses on Russian language and culture in the Faculty of Humanities. HSE News Service spoke with Charlotte about her courses, living in Moscow, and her extensive weekend travels.
Anna Berti Suman, PhD candidate from the Tilburg Institute for Law, Technology, and Society (TILT) at Tilburg University and Visiting Researcher at the European Commission Joint Research Center (JRC) recently spent a week at HSE’s Vysokovsky Graduate School of Urbanism as a Visiting Lecturer. Anna led two seminars and participated in a public round table on ‘Law, Data and the City’. HSE News Service spoke with her about her seminars, the round table, and her impressions of Moscow.
In early July, the fifth summer school organized by French association D’Est together with the HSE Vysokovsky Graduate School of Urbanism, with the support of the French Embassy in Russia and the Paris Mayor’s Office, was held in Paris. For 11 days, students of the HSE Master’s programme in Urban Development and Spatial Planning and members of Moscow’s Municipal Council learned about French urban development, local administration and the country’s participatory democracy.