HSE University is making an important contribution to the comprehensive analysis of the modernization of the Russian economy and public institutions, as well as the development of policy guidance for the government, business sector and civil society. The University has outlined the following three interrelated objectives for the next stage of its development:
- focusing the research agenda on major global challenges relevant for Russia; broaden the disciplinary focus of scientific research and expert analysis by placing a special emphasis on studying multi-layer interdisciplinary problems and development of relevant solutions;
- securing a leading position globally in terms of basic and applied research on issues related to the sustainable development of societies;
- shifting focus from tactical value expert solutions to proactive strategic planning in order to effectively support transformations and sustainable development policies; use its background expertise to come up with evidence-based forward-looking recommendations for solving key problems related to social progress.
Top priority will be given to the following global challenges:
- population ageing. The demographic transition rooted in the growing life expectancy of the population, relevant changes in the lifestyles of people, and the population ageing, which is closely intertwined with these processes, call for modernization of various sectors, including health care, education, pension system, social services, and employment policy. On account of population ageing, special attention should also be paid to the distribution of resources between generations, development of active longevity policy, transformation of urban infrastructure, and escalated internal and external migration;
- new technological reality. Digital technology, nanotechnology, robotics, regenerative medicine and many other cutting-edge scientific advancements are becoming daily routines; they are transforming not only the social landscape but also people themselves. A person's ability to adapt to the growing speed of technological progress is becoming a major issue;
- social uncertainty and instability are increasing. This remains one of the most pressing issues faced by all countries today. Talking about social development, a major cause of social instability today is the high level of economic and social inequality and poverty coupled with poorly developed social elevators for upward mobility;
- the crisis of trust in public and social institutions. In order to overcome this crisis brought about by digitalization and accelerated changes in society, we need more complex and at the same time more open management systems.
The HSE University’s team will focus on research agenda related to global transformations which bears special importance for Russia:
- middle-income traps, including tasks related to ensuring economic growth, improving the welfare of the population and promoting technology modernization in the context of living standards that are already relatively high;
- low capitalization of human (intellectual) potential, including issues related to boosting the labour productivity, as well as individual and social return on education and catching up with Russia's peer countries in terms of public health, cultural capital and educational attainment;
- regional disparity and connectivity, including tasks related to reducing regional disparities in terms of public goods sufficiency, constructing nation-wide social, educational, cultural, and transport spaces, and responding to urbanization challenges;
- demographic shifts and risks related to population decline, internal and cross-border migration, the growing demographic burden of the working population.
Priorities in Science
R&D projects focused on overcoming the above-mentioned challenges and issues will be grouped in accordance with five priority areas.
1. Stimulating Social Welfare and Reducing Social Instability
HSE University plans to attain global recognition and national leadership in research on social welfare, income, property, and spatial inequality levels and related factors, social stratification, poverty, and social stability. This agenda is the most important interdisciplinary research direction for many top universities across the globe. HSE University aims, on the one hand, to ensure that Russian context is included in global discussions of poverty and inequality, and, on the other hand, to strengthen the position of Russian academia in studying new types of inequality, where academic research is still emerging. These new types of inequality are digital, technological, and environmental discrepancies, as well as communication gaps and disproportions related to one's ability to live and work in the times of accelerating change. We also expect a growing demand for research projects focused on the social groups which are key to ensuring sustainable development (e.g., middle class, productive class, creative class, and people whose success is based on investments in their personal development).
In this area, the University will focus on the following research topics:
- the key elements of sustainable development (food supply, consumption, and production; energy and water supply; urbanism; friendly living infrastructure; ecosystem and ecology; economic growth);
- social welfare, inequality (its different forms and manifestations in various spheres of human life and development), poverty, discrimination, and social exclusion;
- regional and local differences in development;
- gender and generation identity, equality and related differences;
- demographic changes, family and migration policies.
2. People and Technology
This research direction studies a broad range of issues describing how people and society can effectively function and develop while having to deal with multiple new technological solutions on a daily basis. This research vector shifts the focus from the traditional social research agenda to new areas where human development, social group formation, social interactions and economic relations collide with the new technological environment. Here, we are talking about the sociology of technology, the psychology of human-computer interaction, and political behaviour in a virtual environment. A special emphasis will be made on emerging research areas. Thanks to its cross-disciplinary approach and background know-how, HSE University can expect to attain leading positions in at least two areas at an outperforming rate: (1) inclusive innovation policy, including the study of user innovations (household technologization) as factors that can be used for mitigating technological inequality; (2) technology forecasts, including modelling the response of education, culture and healthcare sectors to the challenges brought about by technological transformations.
HSE University will focus on the following research topics:
- identifying new causes and manifestations of inequality, including digital and technological inequality;
- user innovations as a factor for mitigating technological inequality;
- technological transformations in social services (education, healthcare, culture, and social benefits);
- assessing the impact of technological development on social life.
3. Human Capital Development
This research area will focus both on the qualitative dimension of human capital (the total number of people, age/gender composition and social structure) and its quality (skills and competencies, increased productivity, and active longevity). A special emphasis will be made on the traditional factors of human capital formation typical for the Russian context, as well as on less developed agenda, e.g. the role 21st-century skills play in human capital formation (including non-cognitive skills and universal competencies), new dimensions of human capital related to expanded agency and entrepreneurship, the role of education in proposing new tools for ensuring better adaptation to ageing and accelerating change.
In this area, the University expects to dramatically improve its competitive advantage thanks to interdisciplinary internal and external cooperation, as well as unique empirical databases.
Researchers will focus on the following key issues:
- the labour market, balance of work, leisure and family life;
- traditional and new approaches to measuring human capital;
- factors underlying human capital formation;
- how education contributes to the formation of human potential and positive adaptation to ageing and accelerating change among the population;
- assessing the role of the 21st-century skills in human capital formation;
- possible ways to increase the capitalization of human capital;
- socio-economic disparities and inequality in the context of human capital development.
4. Long and Healthy Life
HSE University has been making significant progress in research related to healthcare, health assessment, and promotion of a healthy lifestyle. At the new stage of its development, its key objectives will include providing a meaningful response to the growing importance of personal traits in health and longevity management, analyzing the psychological and cultural determinants of health, and making contributions to cross-country comparative studies with a focus on how a person's health status affects human capital in terms of its quality and quantity.
In this area, HSE University will emphasize the following research agenda:
supporting the technological breakthrough in the healthcare system;
promoting a healthy lifestyle;
improving accessibility and quality of medical services;
raising the effectiveness of the healthcare system in terms of management and finance;
stimulating further development of medical and social services in the context of active longevity;
proposing new cultural healthy lifestyle patterns;
public health factors;
the importance of personal health in the formation and capitalization of human potential;
practices that can be used for overcoming harmful addictive behaviour and habits (related to alcohol, drug, and tobacco consumption, gambling, as well as new types of addictions, such as Internet addiction, etc.);
physical and psychological health, healthy eating habits;
evidence-based social policy; assessing the effectiveness and efficiency of social policy; improving the quality of available data on social issues.
5. Social Policy Development
For a long time, HSE University experts have been instrumental in the development and execution of social policies, assessment of their effectiveness in terms of improvements in the living standards and quality of life in Russian society and contributions to the development of human capital, as well as finding solutions to the key social problems. Access to high-quality data is essential for achieving these goals, so HSE University will be making investments in high-grade databases. As a second point on its agenda in this area, the University will develop approaches describing how research findings and policy solutions can be effectively communicated to various target groups and clearly understood by the entire population. New centres responsible for dissemination and mediation of social policy developments will be at the heart of this partnership dialogue.
HSE University will focus on the following research issues in this area:
- assessing the effectiveness and efficiency of social policy measures in terms of ensuring the return on human capital, etc. (based on advanced data analysis methodology);
- micro-modelling the impact of social policy on the quality of life and living standards of the population, experimental and quasi-experimental approaches to the policy impact assessments;
- interdisciplinary approaches to research on social issues;
- ensuring top quality of available data on social policy outcomes and progress made towards solving social issues, using Big Data;
- developing approaches for communicating the policy and research findings to various social groups in a user-friendly manner (mediation).
HSE University's research projects focused on social issues will be based on the following principles in order to ensure a strong competitive standing:
- basic and applied R&D projects will cover a full research cycle, from theoretical foundations that will help define and measure given research categories to practical recommendations related to economic and social policy. All research projects must be strictly interdisciplinary in nature, i.e. the disparity factors from different areas (such as education, culture, labour markets, neurogenetic factors, etc.) will be studied within a single model. All research programmes and solutions will be well-aligned with the provisions of the strategic policy documents with a special focus on combating poverty, boosting the active longevity potential, technological upgrades, and stimulating growth in labour productivity;
- HSE University plans to develop one of the best empirical databases on Russia (in the long run covering all post-Soviet countries) with a special emphasis on research objectives in the framework of global challenges. Furthermore, HSE University will be expanding the range of representative monitoring surveys. It will become one of the major repositories of Big Data and data describing human behaviour and trajectories in a digital environment. A major part of applied projects and expert solutions produced by the University will work to reinforce the databases; amplification of factual material will become a mandatory requirement in the applied expert project standard. In addition, in line with the open data policy, HSE University will act as a methodological leader for a network of teams across Russia dealing with such issues as inequality, technological transformation, and human capital;
- developing an advanced data storage and processing infrastructure, including a computer cluster, data mining systems for Big Data, platform-based solutions for storing quantitative data and texts, advanced user interfaces and analytical constructors;
- building a cooperation network around given topics with international organizations and partners (the World Bank, OECD, and the UN Development Programme), expanding Russia's participation in cross-country monitoring studies focused on major social development challenges; becoming a key provider of statistics on the quality of life and living standards in Russia at a cross-country level.
Contributions to the Advancement of Education
In line with the research agenda in given subject areas, new aspects will be accentuated in the University's educational programmes. Each of the priority areas described above will have affiliated Master's programmes which are expected to produce academic and expert staff within 10 years.
A new type of educational programmes will be introduced where the key focus will shift from a subject or discipline to a specific problem; students will be joining research teams in charge of ongoing applied projects. The specific character of the research agenda opens doors to the development of multiple problem-oriented educational tools (courses, cross-bachelor and cross-master seminars, and University-wide optional courses). This research area will serve as a common platform for new research groups and project-based learning laboratories for students from various departments and educational programmes, including PhD students. New research and study groups will be launched with a special focus on social policy priorities and inequality related to education, income and property, quality of life and access to social services. Other thematic areas for these groups will include active longevity, non-monetary deprivation indicators related to poverty and social exclusion, and technological forecasting. An inter-departmental research project bringing together students pursuing various Master's programmes will be implemented in each of the priority research areas.
Most educational programmes in social sciences, economics and management will include new components which will help students develop an understanding of the big challenges and modern realities faced by social and economic development institutions, as well as acquire relevant skills needed to interpret modern research outcomes. The curriculum of affiliated educational programmes (in terms of their competency matrix) will reflect standard tasks performed in the framework of applied projects and expert knowledge required from specialists in a given subject area.
The University plans to further expand its offering of continuing education products designed to help students develop relevant competencies and take part in projects focused on long-term, mid-term and short-term national development priorities at the federal and regional levels. At the first stage, these continuing education programmes will focus on demography, the sociology of consumer behaviour, active longevity policy, poverty reduction strategy, primary healthcare, pre-school education and early childhood development, long-term care facilities for the elderly, healthy lifestyle, project approach to solving social issues, management of human capital development, and the technology development for the social sector. Short-term module-based courses will be delivered in line with a problem-oriented approach. They will help learners develop modern communication skills, understand the basics of using the project approach in connection with a specific problem, as well as select appropriate technology for the given processes. The target audience of these programmes will include major stakeholders in charge of national social and economic policy, i.e., first of all, the heads of social protection institutions, staff working at analytical departments, senior officials of regional and municipal authorities, representatives of public institutions, and staff working in the branches of large network-based companies and state corporations. HSE University's wide-ranging expertise will be packaged into short-term educational products and micro-modules. This way, the University can offer highly customized educational programmes tailored for various industrial segments, thereby significantly expanding the intake of learners. On the other hand, continuing education programmes can become one of the most effective channels for disseminating the institution's advanced research findings and ultimately ensuring a positive social impact.
Response to the Challenges of Socioeconomic Development in Applied R&D
The primary focus of this research area will be on translating research results into policy recommendations and public policy solutions at all levels, making it very applied in nature.
HSE University will become a leading Russian competence centre engaged in quasi-experimental research and predictive policy impact assessment. This will include micro-modelling of the policy impact on the quality of life and living standards of families and evaluating the effectiveness of technology (e.g. in education, clinical research, etc.)
The University's background expertise related to strategic planning will be strengthened through further development of research tools for functional social forecasting. Forecasting systems, including information interfaces for end-users, will become another research dimension for HSE University.
The ultimate plan is to become a major player in the field of forecasting, including projections that are critical for making strategic decisions, such as demographic and demographic/functional projections at the federal and regional levels, as well as macroeconomic forecasts with a special emphasis on assessing the role of human capital in sustainable development, and science and technology forecasting. HSE University will continue to develop its pool of monitoring surveys concerning the quality of life and living standards of the population, institutional changes and developments in education, and attainment of national goals in terms of social development.
This research area will rely on the synthesis of the University's expertise in the social sector and its strong IT potential. The resulting expert and research products will feature information interfaces. This will require the involvement of technology teams from the HSE MIEM, the Faculty of Mathematics, and the Faculty of Computer Science who have been successful in developing their expertise in this area in the last 5 years. HSE University plans to become a leading academic institution in Russia responsible for promoting digital technology solutions for the social sector and its branches.
New centres for dissemination and mediation of research results and policy-making aimed at improving the quality of life and living standards of the population will serve as a platform for a partner dialogue between scholars, decision-makers and the general population. Their effectiveness as such will be carefully examined.
The University plans to retain its traditionally strong position in promoting evidence-based approaches to reforms in the public sector of the economy. Furthermore, it will continue serving as one of the most important national platforms for discussions around the key priorities of social development, as well as issues related to the formation and use of human capital. The annual public expert review products (e.g. problem-specific reports, white books on the key priorities of sustainable social development, education, health care, etc.) will present the analytical data produced in the course of HSE University's monitoring studies and cover most recent research findings. These expert reviews will set a framework for further dialogue between experts and government officials.