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Regular version of the site

Dr. Robert Hoppe: ‘Russia is simply the most interesting case in system transformation’

Dec. 4, 18:00 - 19:30 the HSE Public Policy Department will hold a seminar on the ‘Development of schools of public policy in Russia, Europe and globally: university-based research, programs, and professional communities’. The seminar leader Dr. Robert Hoppe, Professor of Policy and Knowledge, University of Twente, chair of the Public Policy and Administration research committee of the International Political Science Association agreed to answer some questions for us that indicate his thinking around the issues which arise in devising and implementing public policy and its development as a subject of study.

— Are you going to introduce and discuss your concept expressing how expert advice simultaneously demarcates and coordinates science and public policy within the course ‘Contemporary Political Science’ at the HSE? What is the main message of this concept?

— Yes, I will discuss the topic of the use  of expert policy advice by politicians and policymakers; and I will, of course, introduce the concepts of boundary organizations and boundary work as a novel way of empirically studying the institutional architecture and practical aspects of (systems of) interaction between the sciences (including the social sciences and the humanities) and politics-and-policymaking. The main message of the concepts of boundary organizations/boundary work is to criticize the common assumption that the science-policy interaction is a one-way transfer of knowledge from an academic community to a political/policymaking community.

— What's your evaluation of the development of schools of public policy in Russia, Europe and globally: university-based research, programmes, and professional communities?

— Apart from a two-year curriculum in policy studies at the Department of Public Policy here at HSE/Moscow ( Nina Belyaeva), I am aware of some interest in public policy at HSE/St Petersburg (Alexander Sungurov) and the People’s Friendship University/Moscow – in both latter cases as a kind of sub-discipline in the wider framework of a curriculum in Public Administration. These programs all focus mainly on national-level policy analysis, not just for government, but also for corporations and civil society based associations and organizations. Of course, the wider global context is also important; in this context, there appears to be a strong Europe-centred orientation. I do not know anything about where graduates of these programmes find employment opportunities.

Furthermore, there appear to be efforts to set up a Master of Global Public Policy (MGPP) Programme, at what is supposed to be a Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA), here in Moscow. It has attracted the former Vice Dean of New York’s Columbia University program in Social and International Policy Affairs (SIPA) to set the MGPP up in Russia. Columbia used to educate a lot of country specialists for the US diplomatic and foreign services. As Russia also intends to strengthen its role as a ‘global power’ (transforming the unipolar, US-dominated international system by claiming a leadership position among the BRICS countries), there appears to be a government-based interest in global policy. Lewis also is the first President of the newly-formed International Development and Public Policy Alliance (IDPPA), a consortium of graduate policy schools in Brazil, Russia, India, China, Indonesia, Egypt, Turkey and South Africa. All this means that “policy analysis” will not be focusing on national Russian issues, but on international, BRICS-related issues.

There are various American schools of policy analysis (Ford/Michigan, and Maxwell/Syracuse) that try to enter into alliances with Russian universities (Maxwell and the Public Administration Program of the Lomonosov Moscow State University) to set up public administration and /or policy analysis schools.

My own experience is an EU-based Tempus project (2007-2010), in which the University of Twente (NL) and the Catholic University Leuven (Belgium) assisted a number of Russian universities (State University of Management, People’s Friendship University, and Voronezh) to build an English-taught one-year programme in modern public administration. The project involved curriculum development (both introducing new courses and adapting existing courses), contemporary teaching methods, aligning courses to Bologna requirements for student exchange, etc.  Although the project was completed successfully with rather detailed plans for adjustment of the Russian university programmes, the implementation stalled and has never been completed. Major stumbling blocks (from my perspective…) were the Bologna requirements, language skills of teaching staff, limited interest in student exchange (more from the Russian than the European side), and insufficient support from high-level university administrators.

— How did your cooperation with the HSE start?  What is difficult and what is inspiring for you? 

— The cooperation with HSE is still in the preliminary stages. As chair of IPSA Research Committee 32 on Policy and Public Administration, I’ve met professor Belyaeva at several international conferences (Dubrovnik, Madrid, Grenoble). Talking to each other we discovered parallel research interests. Also, the University of Twente public administration program is internationalizing both the content of its curriculum and research (doing more comparative work), the composition of its staff and student body. Traditionally, quite a few students from CEE countries entered our Master’s programs. Expanding this beyond the EU to Russia and its ‘near abroad’ is a logical next step – I hope…

Difficulties I have mentioned in briefly describing my experiences as coordinator of the Tempus project with other Russian universities. HSE’s big advantage is that it has an English-taught program already. Inspiration is that for any scholar in political science and policy studies, Russia is simply the most interesting case in system transformation; and, more normatively, that the country deserves the best possible expertise in navigating this difficult transformation process successfully and in the interest of its ordinary citizens. If EU-based public administration and policy studies scholars are invited to be of assistance, in spite of the difficulties our own EU system has run into, it is our moral and political obligation to accept the invitation.

— What are the prospects of joint projects with the HSE? Could you please tell us about the book on public policy which is being planned?

From what I have already said, it should be clear that I see favourable prospects for cooperation with Twente. In business administration there are already some successful projects. They should be extended to public administration and public policy as well. Whether or not a joint project in producing a textbook at Master’s level in policy analysis and policy studies is desirable and possible – well, it is too early to tell. There are quite a few good introductory texts in English available; it would take a very convincing rationale to add another one.

Anna Chernyakhovskaya, specially for the HSE news service

The seminar will take place at 18.10-19.30 on December 4 at Myasnitskaya ul. 20, room 440.

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