‘If You Want to Be Strong, You Have to Open Your Doors’: Swiss Ambassador Yves Rossier Visits HSE
At the invitation of Professor Vladimir Kantor, Head of the International Laboratory for the Study of Russian and European Intellectual Dialogue, Swiss Ambassador Yves Rossier visited HSE on Wednesday, 13 February, to give a lecture and meet with faculty and students. In addition to Professor Kantor and students of his International Laboratory, Vice Rector Ivan Prostakov and faculty and students of the School of Philosophy and the HSE Lyceum were in attendance. Vice Rector Prostakov delivered the opening remarks.
Ambassador Yves Rossier (who, to the delight of guests, arrived with his dog in tow) spoke with HSE faculty and students of HSE about Russian-European relations and shared political interests between the two regions. Within this framework, he also discussed common (mis)perceptions of Russia and the importance of a country’s self-perception.
To begin, Ambassador Rossier stressed the commonalities that Russia and Europe share—not only in terms of a shared historical roots in Christianity, but in terms of contemporary culture. ‘To what extent is Russia considered part of Europe? Very few people consider it so,’ he said. However, after having spent two years in Russia as ambassador and travelling to parts of Russia such as Dagestan, Ingushetia, and Rostov, Mr. Rossier asserted that he considers Russia to be part of Europe. Whether he is in Sweden or Russia, he feels at home — in Europe.
And yet European perceptions of Russia nonetheless change all the time, vacillating between viewing Russia as something European and something very foreign. Why is this? Does it have to do with Russia’s foreign policy at a given moment? According to Ambassador Rossier, contrary to what one might think, it has more to do with Europe’s conception of itself in relation to others. For example, despite Russia’s aggressive military presence in Europe under Alexander I, Europeans largely viewed Russia as culturally similar or European in essence. Roughly a century later, in 1917 after the Bolshevik revolution, when Russia is not occupying parts of Europe, the country was suddenly viewed as something not European at all. It was something different. In the ambassador’s view, these changes thus have more to do with European self-perceptions than actual perceptions of Russia or Russia in reality. And today, for example, while many conservative opponents of immigration in Europe tend to view Russia as a haven of Christian values and ethnic homogeneity, it is actually a country of extraordinary religious and ethnic diversity!
Thus, Ambassador Rossier stressed, perceptions are never stagnant. Perceptions, he says, should also never be taken at face value—especially when it comes to Russia, which, for one reason or another, often serves as a foil upon which people in the West projection their own biases and ideas. Russians, the ambassador says, should therefore ask themselves not how others view them, but how they view themselves, and what kind of future they envision for their own country.
At the close of the talk, faculty and students in attendance asked questions on a variety of topics including immigration, European impressions of Russian philosophers, and potential areas of Russian-European collaboration.
When asked about potential areas for increasing Russian-European collaboration, Ambassador Rossier affirmed without hesitation: science. ‘You have excellent brains here in Russia,’ he said. ‘We should continue and increase our exchange of international teachers and students. If you want to be strong, you have to open your doors.’
On June 18, the third International Partners’ Week ‘Academic Agility: Preparing Students for an Uncertain Future’ began at HSE University. The event brings together representatives of more than 30 universities from 16 countries, including France, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Turkey, the USA, Finland, the United Kingdom, and China. They have all come to Moscow to learn more about the kind of learning experience HSE University can provide, as well as to discuss practical challenges and solutions regarding international mobility.
On June 3-4, a conference entitled ‘Beyond Post-Truth: Media Landscapes in the “Age of Insecurity”’ was held in St. Petersburg. The conference was jointly organized by the Poletayev Institute for Theoretical and Historical Studies in the Humanities (IGITI) at HSE University, the Leibniz Institute for the History and Culture of Eastern Europe at GWZO Leipzig, the Max Weber Center for Advanced Cultural and Social Studies at the University of Erfurt, and Justus Liebig University Giessen.
This May, HSE and the Science and Technology Policy Institute (STEPI, Republic of Korea) signed a cooperation agreement on science and advanced technology research. This agreement was signed by Leonid Gokhberg, HSE First Vice Rector, Director of the Institute for Statistical Studies and Economics of Knowledge, and Dr. Hwang-Hee Cho, STEPI President.
This year's theme of the International Partners Week held this past May at HSE St. Petersburg was ‘Nurturing Global Citizens for a Global World’. Participants gathered to discuss common issues that universities face in regard to internationalisation, exchange approaches to implementing the Global Citizens concept, visit the university’s facilities, acquaint HSE SPb students with universities overseas, and, of course, enjoy St Petersburg’s White Nights.
On May 23-24, following the Days of the International Academy of Education held earlier this week, the General Assembly of the International Academy of Education took place at HSE University Moscow. The assembly brings together education researchers and experts from all over the world, and this is the first time that the biannual meeting was held in Russia. Over the course of two days, members discussed joint projects and publications and met newly inducted members who had the opportunity to introduce themselves and present their research. Members also took part in small group discussions on a variety of topics, including digital literacy and math education.
On May 20, the Days of the International Academy of Education commenced at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow. Experts from all over the world engaged in identifying global education policy trends will hold a series of meetings, master classes, seminars and open lectures. They will share their experience with Russian researchers, instructors and education policy makers over the course of three days.
This year, the HSE Faculty of Law is launching new extended programmes in Common Law, for which graduates will receive a degree from the University of London. These programmes are open for first-year students, as well as for other students and professionals.
The Higher School of Economics has become a member of the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE). It is a key partner of UNESCO and the oldest global association that aims to provide quality and affordable online education to students around the world. Today HSE is the only representative of Russia in ICDE.
The agreement establishes a student- and academic-exchange programme and the opportunity for joint educational and research project development. The agreement was signed on April 8 with the participation of representatives of the government of North Rhine-Westphalia.
From February 25 to March 2, HSE’s Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs hosted an academic module of the University Consortium, an inter-regional training programme for outstanding students that aims to promote mutual understanding, balanced analysis, and genuine dialogue among the US, EU, and Russia.