Professor Drazen: HSE Students Give Food for Meditation
From October 5 to 11, the Summer School of the International Laboratory of Decision Choice and Analysis was held at the Higher School of Economics, where Professor Allan Drazen (Department of Economics, University of Maryland, USA) served as the speaker. In a recent interview, he spoke not only about the importance of legislative politics in modern democracies but also about why he was struck by HSE students, why gut instincts are so important, and why theory is more important than practice.
— Professor Drazen, your lecture was about legislative politics. How did you settle on this topic, and what kind of response did you receive from the audience? Did they have a lot of questions?
— The lecture was about the specifics of modelling a legislature (how a legislature makes decisions) based more on mathematical models. The legislature may grant special favours and concentrate on responsible policymaking. Legislative decision-making is central to representative democracy.
— You have considerable experience in teaching. How would you compare students in Russia, the U.S. and Israel?
— I have been teaching for many years. I started working in the area of political economy in the 1990s, and at the same time I started teaching. I was quiet impressed by HSE students. A number of students not only clearly understood the material very quickly, but even in the first lecture they were asking very advanced questions. I think that the students here are well trained and very bright; I was quite impressed by their level.
— The Russian education is known to emphasize the study of theory, whereas European and American students focus quite a bit on practice during their education. Russian students may therefore be lacking in practice, and the other in theory. What are your thoughts on this?
— I think that is why my lectures were well received here. They involved a lot of theory. My view regarding practice is that you can’t really make good decisions and you can’t make correct decisions on what to do without having theory behind you.
— But there also can be problems without practice.
— There can be problems because sometimes you do theory just for the sake of theory. When learning the theory, I was very much motivated by practice, by real world problems. Personally, I think this is the best way because you won’t be lost in theory when you understand the purpose of learning it.
— What is your general impression after visiting the Higher School of Economics?
— I have very positive opinion of HSE. The students are quite strong and very clever; they know how to make strong arguments. I really enjoyed it. I would like to come back and spend more time here. Moscow is a very nice city. And HSE seems like a really nice place to do work. As I said, what impressed me most is that several very good students in my lecture asked really good questions. They were questions I had to think about, which is a sign of really good students. I discovered something new for myself, because I had never thought about some of the issues they raised.
The English-taught Master's programme 'Comparative Politics of Eurasia' at the HSE Campus in St Petersburg trains specialists in the internal and external politics of post-Soviet countries. Students learn how to combine qualitative and quantitative methods of analysis with theoretical approaches from various social sciences. The programme has three educational tracks: one in research and two applied ones. Andrey Starodubtsev, Academic Supervisor of the programme, explains which subjects students will learn and where they will be able to undertake internships.
Advice from Above: Sociologists Have Assessed the Impact that Priests Have on How Their Parishioners Vote
Political preferences of at least 21% of Orthodox voters in Russia may be influenced by the clergy and their fellow believers. Based on an online survey of 2,735 respondents, HSE University sociologists Kirill Sorvin and Maksim Bogachev concluded that religion has a considerable impact on people’s political choices. The scholars assume that the share of those who vote ‘in an Orthodox way’ may be higher: many respondents were under 34, and young people are a minority among Orthodox believers in Russia.
On April 10, Ronald Inglehart, founder of the World Values Survey and the Laboratory for Comparative Social Research, delivered an honorary lecture at the LCSR’s 9th international seminar held as part of HSE’s XX April Academic Conference. The lecture addressed the roots of authoritarianism, its relationship to other widely investigated phenomena and its empirical linkage with contemporary politics.
Bachelor’s programme ‘Political Science’ and Master’s programmes ‘Applied Politics’ and ‘Politics. Economics. Philosophy’ have been granted international accreditation by Central Evaluation and Accreditation Agency (ZEvA), based in Hannover, Germany.
Ever since he was a teenager, Judas Everett has been interested in politics. A new postgraduate student in HSE’s Doctoral School of Political Science, Judas says he owes a lot of his continued interest to the teachers he’s had over the years, the right encouragement and the right reading suggestions.
On Tuesday, May 23, William Reisinger, Professor of Political Science at the University of Iowa, will deliver a seminar at the HSE School of Political Science entitled ‘The Impact of Petty Corruption on Political Support in Post-Soviet Societies’. Ahead of his seminar, Professor Reisinger spoke with the HSE News Service about the topic of his research, how his impressions of Russia and the post-Soviet world have changed since he began visiting the region, and the changing interest in Russia that he has observed among Western students over the past several decades.
On May 17, Dr Jorge Emilio Nunez, a Senior Lecturer at Manchester Law School (UK), delivered a lecture at HSE on the themes from his latest book, ‘Sovereignty Conflicts and International Law and Politics’ (Routledge 2017). While addressing members of the HSE community, he explored a solution of egalitarian shared sovereignty, evaluating what sorts of institutions and arrangements could, and would, best realize shared sovereignty, and how it might be applied to territory, population, government and law.
Better nutrition can have a lot to do with the transition to democracy: the more protein-rich, high-quality foods appear in a society's diet, the higher the likelihood of democratic reforms. Apparently, a richer diet is associated with an increase in the middle class, which tends towards economic and political independence and democracy-fostering values. Andrey Shcherbak has found, based on a cross-country comparative study using data on 157 countries, that a change in people's eating habits can serve as a predictor of impending political change. His findings are published in the paper 'A Recipe for the Democracy? The Spread of the European Diet and Political Change'.
EU MPs are increasingly negative on Russia, and their positions are largely defined by their national interests – rather than by their ideological affiliation to any particular political grouping in the European parliament. The researchers believe that this indicates that national interests trump ideological stance for EU MPs. Their research was presented in the article: National or European Politicians? Gauging MEPs Polarity when Russia is Concerned.
On Tuesday, May 26, Franziska Keller, Ph.D. candidate at New York University and visiting researcher of the HSE International Centre for the Study of Institutions and Development, presented a report called ‘Shaking hands in public. What elite co-appearances tell us about the politics behind the scenes’. This seminar marks the 9th joint Research Seminar on Diversity and Development hosted by the International Centre for the Study of Institutions and Development and NES Centre for the Study of Diversity and Social Interactions.