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Regular version of the site

‘Changing Europe’ In Moscow

From August 1st – 5th, an international Summer School on East-European studies took place at the Higher School of Economics. This time, participants discussed the influence of the global economic crisis on the politics and economies of Central and Eastern European countries.

This was the 6th annual ‘Changing Europe’ summer school. It was initiated by the University of Bremen Research Center for East European Studies, but members of the HSE staff have participated in it every year, both as experts and organizers. ‘Every year we go to a different European city’, Heiko Pleines, member of the University of Bremen Research Center for East European Studies, said, ‘We have already visited Berlin, Kiev, Prague and Warsaw. This year we are in Moscow. Andrey Yakovlev, Vice Rector of the Higher School of Economics, has been a participant and advisor at every one of these summer schools. We have discussed various organizational and conceptual issues with him, and when he suggested we come to Moscow, we were happy to agree’.

Heiko Pleines
Heiko Pleines
The idea of this international interdisciplinary forum for postgraduates was for them, as economists, political scientists, sociologists and lawyers, to discuss the results of their research with colleagues, to see the situation from different perspectives and from various disciplines’ points of view.

The second important task of the Summer school was to help young researchers integrate into the international academic community, even more so since the School’s working language is English. ‘Leading experts and professors tell the audience how to publish the results of their research in peer-reviewed journal and how to apply for an international grant. For example, a Harvard professor explained what catches the eye in an application’, Heiko Pleines said.

This year the school participants included young researchers from Lithuania, Romania, Ukraine, Germany, Italy, USA and of course Russia. They presented the results of their research in compliance with international academic standards, and then had the opportunity to get expert evaluations and participate in the discussion. According to Leonid Kosals, Deputy Dean for Research of the HSE Faculty of Sociology (The School’s organizer on the Russian side), ‘this format allows each participant not only to get an evaluation of his work from colleagues representing different academic areas, but also to see how his work and he himself appears when compared with colleagues of the same age from different countries, and it also provides an opportunity to be evaluated by elder colleagues’.

Leonid Kosals
Leonid Kosals
The school included David Lane (University of Cambridge), Margarita Balmaseda (Harvard University/Seton Hall University), Heiko Plenes (Research Center for East European Studies) as discussants and lecturers, as well as HSE lecturers, Ksenia Gonchar, Maxim Nikitin, Andrey Yakovlev and Leonid Kosals. Vadim Radaev, First Vice Rector of the HSE, spoke at the opening ceremony and told the audience about HSE’s development over recent years and delivered a lecture on the role of state in consumer market regulation in Russia.

During the school, in addition to presentations on the results of research, there were also classes on the use of e-resources (conducted by Pavel Arefiev from еLIBRARY.RU electronic library), as well as sessions on international academic career-building and how to give advice to government bodies. The experience of this school can be useful for the development of the HSE’s full-time aspirantura programme – primarily for evaluating postgraduates’ work.

Of course, there were some problems in the organization of the school, which were primarily related to the mismatch between the schedule of decision-making on financing the summer schools at the HSE and requirements of effective organization of an international postgraduate school, which requires early call for participants and selection of candidates.

Following the Summer school, a book will be published which will include the best work of the participants. The book will be published by the German academic publishing house ‘ibidem-Verlag’ in English.

 

Opinions of the Summer School participants

 

 

Elena Danilenko, Kharkov National University (Ukraine), senior lecturer at the Department of economic theory:

The Summer school was very well organized, but, of course, the contents are far more important. It is always very interesting when the topic is declared (this time it was related to the global economic crisis) and then discussed from the perspectives of different sciences. It was useful to get expert recommendations in regards to my work and to listen to some new ideas. It is always good when work is discussed, but if you have the opportunity to talk to someone who has thoroughly read the paper, it is a different story.

I liked the lecture on internet resources, about existing databases on economics and the specifics of the information presented there. Some databases are well known, but not all of them, and in addition, each of them has its own specifics.

 

 

Valeria Zaozernaya, University of Bamberg (Germany), postgraduate student at the Department of international management:

It seems especially important to me that the school was interdisciplinary. A view from the representatives of another academic area lets us look at the subject of one’s research from a different perspective.

It was interesting to get some information on international grants and scholarships, about how to apply, how to understand a sponsor’s ideology and what details should be taken into account. Each grant has its own political and academic concepts, and social factors also play a huge role. The topic of the research can be interesting and relevant, but it will not get support if the application is made incorrectly, if the contexts and the interests of a specific fund are not taken into account.

 

 

Vitautas Kuokstis, University of Vilnius Institute of International Relations and Political Science (Lithuania):

My research, which I presented at the Summer school, is dedicated to how the Baltic countries were fighting the crisis, what solutions were found, what they managed to do and what they did not. The Baltic countries decided to fight the consequences of the crisis without any devaluation of their currencies and many people thought that this was not such a good idea. In my thesis I study the political and historical context in the Baltic countries and I look at the institutions which exist there. I think that there were factors that helped to successfully overcome the crisis. Firstly, the flexibility of the labour market and in addition, these countries export basic products, such as wood and furniture which can be easily reoriented to other markets under difficult conditions. And there were many such factors.

This summer school was very well organized I have participated in similar schools six or seven times, and this was one of the best. I shall also remember it thanks to the people I met here and the opportunity to talk, to get valuable comments and advice. The school participants work on different topics and approach solutions from the perspective of different sciences. This helps us to see one’s study from a different angle and to better understand the problem.

 

 

 

Eva Dabrowska, University of Erfurt (Germany):

I presented a project related to the development of financial institutions in Russia. I am particularly interested in how economic ideas are implemented by politicians and what stimulus the politicians may have for the use of economic tools. I believe that this work is not only about economics, but is sociological and in some way – political. I have studied economics, sociology and history, and that’s why it is not easy for me to identify myself with any specific academic discipline.

I met some very interesting people during the School: I had a rare opportunity to meet colleagues from Romania and Russia. Of course, it was useful to talk to experts from the U.S. and Great Britain who have been working in research for many years. I did not expect such prominent people to come to this school.

I received a lot of advice on the contents of my thesis, I was given recommendations on what else can and should be analyzed to make the results more serious.

 

 

Tatiana Kostyuchenko, Kyiv Mohila Academy (Ukraine), senior teacher at the Department of sociology:

Sometimes you have no idea what your colleagues from the same country or even city are working on. We work in different institutions, and this School allows us to meet, discuss things, and establish contacts. And then this can lead to joint projects and other forms of cooperation, including joint publications.

The format of an academic conference often does not allow us to consider a topic in detail and with support of colleagues, but it was possible at this Summer school. In addition to that, the discussants met the school participants in advance and discussed some issues even before the presentations.

We also received some useful information on how to publish an article in an international journal. Traditionally, we focus on national publications during the preparation of a thesis, and there everything is organized differently: they have a different structure, specifics, peer-reviewing technology etc. Such information was certainly essential for young researchers.

 

 

Nadezhda Kolesnik, Higher School of Economics (Russia), research intern at the Laboratory of Network Organizational Forms:

This was my first experience of participating in such a seminar. Academic work in other countries is organized differently than in Russia. That’s why it was interesting to find out how it works and how research is conducted. I received advice on my research, and some especially valuable recommendations from Andrey Yakovlev, so today I better understand what my work and its structure should look like.

During the week of the School’s work I made many new contacts. In particular, I discovered that I have similar topics of research to Tatiana Kostyuchenko. Probably, we shall cooperate in future.

Everything was successful at this school. I think it would be good to have a similar school in management, or at least to organize a permanent postgraduate seminar in order to discuss problems with colleagues and to listen to opponents’ opinions. The type of seminar should be regular, as they are in many universities of the world.

 

Andrey Shcherbakov, HSE News Service

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