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HSE Offers Traineeship Opportunities for International Doctoral Students

Doctoral schools provide an opportunity for international doctoral students to undertake part of their study or research at HSE. The university offers two types of traineeships – research and study. The study stay involves taking courses from the HSE doctoral schools. This can be one, two or more courses aimed at developing academic skills or at obtaining greater exposure to special core subjects.

The research stay offers the opportunity to work with a particular academic advisor or at an international research laboratory or centre; gain access to international full-text and abstract databases, journals and books; and attend graduate seminars. Thus, this type of traineeship provides a good base not only for postgraduate students preparing research on regional (Russian) subjects, but also for a wide range of young researchers. Research stays involve conducting research, receiving guidance from an academic supervisor employed at HSE and participating in all academic events held at HSE.

The International Centre for the History and Sociology of World War II and its Consequences is one of HSE research divisions that has opened a traineeship programme for international doctoral students. The new programme enables young foreign researchers to live in Russia and work with archival and library materials for a period of up to one year. Each student is assigned an advisor from among HSE’s teaching staff. Foreign fellows are also able to take courses to learn Russian or attend the lectures offered.

Liudmila Novikova, Senior Research Fellow at the International Centre for the History and Sociology of World War II and its Consequences, discusses the new programme and what it seeks to achieve.

‘Foreign doctoral students of history come to us primarily for fellowships related to work in Moscow and other Russian archives. To gain “admittance” into the profession and defend a dissertation, any budding historian, as a rule, should spend some time in the country whose history he or she studies, and to work with archival documents on a given topic,’ she said. ‘The new programme not only provides such an opportunity to foreign fellows, but also allows future generations of international specialists in Russian history to learn more about the research that is being carried out at HSE.’

According to Novikova, the programme supports further study of Russian history abroad, and provides a solid basis for future contact between Russian experts and the younger generation of foreign researchers. After all, once these current doctoral students defend their dissertations, they will be history teachers at foreign universities and eventually hold professorial appointments.

What is especially attractive for international doctoral students in this programme is the opportunity to consult with leading Russian experts in the field of source studies and experts in Russian archives where work which is usually a main part of the fellowship

Marina Rumyantseva, Academic Director of the HSE Doctoral School of History, says that what is especially attractive for students in this programme is the opportunity to consult with leading Russian experts in the field of source studies and experts in Russian archives where work which is usually a main part of the fellowship.

‘Foreign postgraduate students, just like Russian students, have the opportunity to collaborate with HSE’s research institutions – the Poletayev Institute for Theoretical and Historical Studies in the Humanities, the Laboratory of Medieval Studies, and the Centre for Source Studies at the HSE School of History. Especially attractive for visiting fellows is the International Centre for the History and Sociology of World War II and its Consequences in its level of research and the range of issues it covers’, Rumyantseva said.

Mirjam Voerkelius, a PhD candidate in history at the University of California, Berkeley, is a current fellow at the Centre conducting research for her thesis on Darwinism in the Soviet Union. She spends her days at the Lenin Library and in the archives.

‘HSE has provided a stimulating environment and wonderful opportunities to connect with people, in addition to facilitating my research trip in the first place’, she says. ‘The International Centre for the History and Sociology of World War II and Its Consequences in particular strikes me as very vibrant. The Centre’s conferences and presentations offer the chance to engage with cutting-edge research’.

Antony Kalashnikov, a postgraduate fellow at Oxford University, spent six months in Moscow and has extended his stay. He says the initial decision to travel to HSE was influenced by several factors, including the approachability of HSE’s international department. ‘In the United Kingdom, HSE has a reputation for its links to Western institutions. In fact, the British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies has specifically recommended HSE as a partner for doctoral study exchanges’, he said.

Kalashnikov is pursuing a doctoral project in Soviet history, namely the politics of monument-building in the Stalin period (1932-1953), for which archival work is a necessity. ‘Specifically, I need to spend a few months at the Communist Party archives (RGASPI), the state archives (GARF), and the art and literature archives (RGALI), all located in Moscow.’ In particular, he notes that ‘HSE offers unparalleled support for graduate student exchanges: from visa support to student accommodation to supervision and guidance’.

Kalashnikov responded to our request to share several tips for those intending to visit HSE as fellows. For example, he advises, ‘For those working in archives, I would recommend ordering files before arrival – most archives offer this service for overseas researchers. Also, the online catalogues are continuously improving, and a lot of time can be saved by doing this preparatory work beforehand. It is also useful to know the specific nature of the workplace culture. For instance, establishing personal contacts and connections is important, and phoning is generally more effective than emails’.

Asli Yigit is completing her PhD thesis after completing a fellowship at HSE under the direction of Professor Mikhail Ilyin. She is already back home in Ankara, where she is also teaching part time at Bilkent University. After completing her PhD, she plans to continue to teach Russo-Turkish history and Russian diplomacy. ‘I have also plans to conduct further archival research in Moscow and St. Petersburg in the future’, she says. 

While living in Moscow it was interesting to speak Russian not only with Russians but also with people from many other countries and cultures; that made me realize that Moscow’s cosmopolitan character is growing day by day

‘During my stay in Moscow, the best thing was the dormitory facilities at HSE. Thanks to the HSE dormitory I had a secure, comfortable and friendly living environment. My research in archives was the difficult part of study. Since studying in the archives is time consuming with limited opportunity to access to the historical documents, I had to organize my time very well. Thanks to Professor Ilyin, I was able to arrange my time and organize my research priorities’, she said. 

Despite the tight schedule and difficult work in archives and libraries, all foreign fellows found time to experience contemporary life in Moscow and its cultural heritage. Mirjam Voerkelius emphasizes the city’s parks and quiet corners, especially the Zamoskvorechie district and the Marfo-Mariinskii Convent. Asli Yigit says that Moscow’s theatres and operas are her favourite places, especially the Yermolova Theatre and Moscow Operetta.

‘While living in Moscow it was interesting to speak Russian not only with Russians but also with people from many other countries and cultures; that made me realize that Moscow’s cosmopolitan character is growing day by day’, Yigit says. ‘Besides, walking on Moscow streets teaches a person not only history and cosmopolitan culture, but also to see the beauty and paradoxes at the same time. The most inspiring thing in Moscow is the city itself. One can live and feel the history while walking on the street’.

International postgraduate students from any university are welcome to take part in the traineeships. The most important thing is to obtain agreement from the director of the relevant doctoral school and an academic advisor from HSE.

The dates for the study stays are fixed and tied to the academic calendar of the doctoral programmes. Enrolment in the research stays is open throughout the year.


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