Strategic Partnership Development
On November 9th the Russian Ministry of Education and Science officially announced that the HSE and the George Mason University, among others, were winners of a contest organized in 2010 as part of the joint Russian-American university programme. This autumn a delegation from the U.S. Department of Education visited the HSE to discuss the prospects for cooperation. Boris Zhelezov, Deputy Vice Rector of the HSE, told us about the results of the visit and new directions of interaction.
― Boris, what questions did you discuss during the visit of our American colleagues?
― We discussed issues of cooperation with American universities and researchers as part of the bilateral intergovernmental initiative, as well as the Fulbright programme. Ms. Alina Romanowski, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Academic Programs, emphasized that both parties are interested in the work of the programmes, and the American side is satisfied with the results of the work already done.
Apart from the intergovernmental programme projects, we talked about the participation of our university in the Fulbright programme which involves student and academic exchanges. The Higher School of Economics has already been welcoming American teachers and students for three years , and every year, HSE students and teachers travel to U.S. universities for various educational and research programmes . Our American colleagues expressed their gratitude for our help in the organization of a member meeting celebrating 35 years of this programme in Russia.
― What opportunities does the Russian-American intergovernmental programme of cooperation in education provide for participants?
― I need to mention that the programme doesn’t only involve education. It encompasses several areas, but education is one of the most promising and actively developing spheres. According to the terms of the programme, Russian and American governments equally finance university projects selected through a competition. The Higher School of Economics participated in the first contest of this programme two years ago and won it. As a result, we became partners with Stanford University, which has developed a very productive cooperation with the HSE Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs and other faculties. One of the future tasks is development of new educational courses in collaboration with leading Stanford professors. The plans for the project also involve lectures by American colleagues. The first Stanford week took place in last September, and this year we repeated this experience. During the week we not only listened to, but talked to the best lecturers and researchers from Stanford university – they conducted special methodical seminars for HSE teachers and researchers.
― Which university will become HSE’s partner in the Russian-American intergovernmental programme of cooperation in education in 2010?
― The second project will be realized in collaboration with our old partner – George Mason University, who we first signed an agreement on cooperation with back in 1996. One of the most successful projects we’ve run together is the joint internet course on human rights. Its founders and developers are John Dale from George Mason University and Nina Belyaeva, Head of the HSE Department for Public Policy. Our U.S. colleagues call such courses ‘the global classroom’, since by using information and communication technologies they are able to bring together students of different universities in one classroom.
George Mason University is a good example of a strategic partnership which is developing in several directions. In the autumn we are going to launch a double-degree programme in Economics and two big research projects supervised by leading Mason university professors. One of those researchers – John Nye – was at the Higher School of Economics as a guest professor. We are also planning a joint project in software engineering under the supervision of Professor Arun Sood.
The new multidisciplinary project is dedicated to the investigation of internet opportunities in the study of humanities. It will involve our Faculty of Sociology and GMU College of Humanities and Social Sciences. The Partner of HSE’s sociologists will be, initially, a group of American researchers and teachers of sociology headed by Professor Amy Best.
―Does the multidisciplinary character of the project imply the participation of representatives from HSE departments other than the Faculty of Sociology?
― The new project is truly multidisciplinary, and is of special interest for political scientists, cultural researchers and philosophers. The internet affects the methods, means and forms of teaching and studying in all disciplines. Clearly, the access to unlimited e-resources has considerably changed the character of education with all the associated positive and negative consequences. I think that the positive sides are obvious: the range of information, the opportunity to quickly make a comparative analysis, select the topic and literature. One of the serious disadvantages is plagiarism and a change in contemporary students’ way of thinking: they think not with their own phrases, but with paragraphs copied from the internet. This can lead to the ability to independently formulate ideas vanishing. All those themes from the philosophical, sociological and psychological discourses can become a subject for research as part of the project. And in addition to this, we are planning methodological seminars in human sciences, workshops with American colleagues, summer schools for students and researchers and student exchanges between the universities.
In my view, the HSE Faculty of Philosophy has the opportunity to become the next partner in the double-degree programme with George Mason University. Education in the U.S. is fee-paying, but thanks to our partnership it will be possible to reduce the fee for those wishing to get an American degree in philosophy, and we have reason to believe that students will be interested in this programme.
Our experience proves that the strategic partnership that once started at the Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs can spread to other faculties, and this remains our main goal.
Liudmila Mezentseva, HSE News Service