Ability to Manage Technology and Innovation Is in High Demand
Science, technology and innovation policy is a field that requires special skills and knowledge. The MA programme in Governance of Science, Technology and Innovation trains professionals for management and policy making in this area of work. On June 28, the first cohort graduated from the programme. Before the ceremony, Rae Kwon Chung, Principal Advisor on Climate Change at the Executive Office of the Secretary-General of the United Nations and a member of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which was awarded Nobel peace prize in 2007, delivered a lecture on Reformulating Economics to Serve Sustainable Development.
According to Dirk Meissner, Academic Supervisor of Master’s Programme, ‘the people we enroll have unique features. Our recruitment procedure is open to everyone, and we put strong emphasis on students having different backgrounds. They come from math, physics, chemistry, sociology, history, arts, management and economics among others. We want them to get involved into interdisciplinary work -- we are not talking about it, we really do it.’
Ozcan Saritas, who teaches several courses on the programme, believes that the programme attracts students with a broad range of backgrounds because science, technology and innovation are relevant to everyone, this kind of knowledge is the biggest asset today -- each of them finds something special for oneself. Sometimes it's challenging for the teaching staff because the students start from different levels of understanding but they have a chance to sort it out, find the balance. And it's very interesting for the students to have a chance to speak with other people, especially when they do group work which requires creativity and looking at things from different perspectives. This way they can bring more ideas on the table.
Liliana Proskuryakova, who is also involved in teaching the programme, emphasizes that ‘In the near future the labor market will need specialized knowledge in particular areas and general skills like the ability to effectively find and analyze information, work in multi-cultural, inter-disciplinary teams in uncertain conditions, be able to adapt to continuing changes in technology and processes. These are skills students obtain in our programme.’
Lecture by Rae Kwon Chung at ISSEK before the graduation ceremony International students on the programme
Raekwon Chung is a member of The Global Energy Prize International Award Committee, Director, Environment and Development Division, UN ESCAP (Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific) (Thailand), Advisor on Climate Change to the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and Ambassador for Climate Change of Republic of Korea to UN. He received a Master's degree in Foreign Service from Georgetown University, USA. Was a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that was awarded Nobel Prize jointly with Albert Arnold (Al) Gore Jr. "for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change".
Dirk Meissner admits that it was somewhat unexpected to receive so many applications, around 60, from non-Russian students -- Americans, Europeans, Asians, few Africans. ‘I think one of the reasons is our strong exchange agreements with other universities and two double-degree agreements (with Technische Universität Berlin and Maastricht University)’.
The double degree program means that the students go to a partner university for one year and come back the following year. This international collaboration confirms that teaching at HSE ISSEK is up to the international standards. ‘We managed to overcome the clichés the students might have had regarding studying in Russia,’ stresses Dirk Meissner.
As Ozcan Saritas explains, ‘Our programme has several attractive points both for students from Russia and abroad. One of its key strengths is that technology and innovation become main drivers of many economies around the world and Russia is not an exception. Another strong point is our teaching staff. We have colleagues coming from Canada, US, UK, EU. And we are bringing those professors not for the sake of bringing someone from abroad, they are the leading names in their areas of research. It's a good opportunity for Russian students who don't want to move abroad to meet these experts, to collaborate with them here, in our programme.’
Dirk Meissner adds: ‘Before you start studying you usually look for some papers and articles in a certain scientific area. When it comes to science, technology and innovation area you could find some of the best authors teaching in our programme. All our teachers are researchers as well, that's why incorporating the latest research findings in teaching is our daily business.’
- Around 25% international students on the programme
- Around 40% of faculty members have international PhDs
It's an evening programme, classes are from 6pm to 9pm. The first year usually is very intensive, it's when the students have compulsory classes. During the second year the students have more elective courses and more time for working on their master thesis. Having a programme that is taught in the evening means that students usually work or are engaged in other activities. ‘It's a challenge for us,’ says Saritas. ‘We have to make classes not boring, there's no place for a monologue, we try to make classes as interactive as possible. It's nice to see that the attendance usually is very high, that means we are doing something right.’
The programme is a mutual learning process, both for students and for faculty. For example, Saritas says that he has learned a lot more about monotowns or monocities because one of the students came from there, from Kemerovo. ‘It gave me new aspect of understanding of this highly specialized type of towns with very specific economic and social system. But we always encourage the students to talk not only to us, teachers, but to each other, that's why group work is so important.’
Liliana Proskuryakova talked about this close cooperation with students: ‘Several people have worked as trainee-researchers on HSE projects that I run, and in the process have gained practical knowledge. These students are now completing their project work and are entering the global labor market. I hope that they will find their work experience useful and they will find good offers. I will miss their support and help, they have already become part of the ISSEK team, met with experts and published their first research.’
The English language is an important part of the programme. ‘Speaking English is not compulsory, but professional interaction in English has already become a key requirement for specialists in a number of areas,’ Proskuryakova said. ‘Our programme teaches students how to think, analyze, and set out their knowledge as an argument, pass exams and write academic studies in English. A number of students speak several languages, which helps them analyze a wider range of publications and documents.’
The programme's academic council consists of representatives of the ministry of education and science, the ministry of economic development, big Russian and international companies (like Gazprom) and foreign universities. What the academic council mainly looks at is what we are doing in terms of academic structure, which courses and topics we are covering. There is annual evaluation of the courses. It's a quality assurance measure which allows us to keep up with the international standards.
Connection to reality
Dirk Meissner comments that programme seminars might take different shapes -- group work, project work, problem solving. ‘Our students also write essays. Not a short essay but 15 pages long one and they have to defend it similar to how they eventually defend their master thesis. If you have a certain topic you'd like to deal with in your master thesis just come here, look for a supervisor -- there's a lot of potential supervisors -- convince one of the teachers to supervise your project and work on your topic.’
The students inspired by our program and their personal interests have established the Innovators Club. They organize regular seminars aiming to bridge themselves, our program and real world issues in business, policy making and other related areas. They learn from the cases outside and also explore their own abilities and career opportunities, they even hold their own Career Days.
‘The students can take some things they've learned here back to their job,’ says Ozcan Saritas. ‘For example, in the case of foresight which is about planning the future, I have heard from the students that they explain this concept at their workplaces and have the opportunity to apply some of these tools and techniques at their job. It's great to hear about the impact of our program which goes beyond the university and contributes to the output in private and public sectors.’
Each course has final session which talks about Russia. In each course the students learn how to apply certain things in Russia. ‘There's great desire in Russia to move from natural resource-based economy to innovation-based and knowledge-based economy, to revitalize its scientific capacity. What we teach and talk about in the program fits the ongoing debate on how to tackle the current crisis as well,’ states Saritas.
‘Technological progress today is gathering pace. The changes are clearly visible, to non specialists, in daily life. People who can cope with this fast pace of change will be in greater demand in state structures and commercial companies,’ Proskuryakova said.
Almost all courses required writing many essays, and this was a bit challenging for me. During my masters, we also had many group projects that were sometimes really hard to manage in terms of dealing with all people in groups. However, I can say that I have learnt a lot through these group projects.
I can say that I have achieved my goal of getting good training in management technology and innovation. I took a broad range of courses in this field. I believe this programme has already become a strong background for my future career. I will try to do my best after this degree, carrying all these things forward.
I really love Moscow and I have gotten used to living here over the last 2 years. After graduation, I think I will go back home for a while. I firstly want to work and enhance my experience and background, then I want to do a PhD. I have no doubt that I will come to Moscow again.
My previous degree was in business informatics. I started working at HSE in 2013, where my main tasks involved developing systems to monitor global technological trends. Back then I had already understood that the problems we face in science, technology, and innovation, are a much greater challenge for me than day-to-day business issues, as they don’t have any standard solution. I like finding ‘outside the box’ solutions and using my developer and analyst skills, and putting conceptual ideas into practice. This programme enabled me to delve deep into the problems that science, technology, and innovation face, to look at them from a researcher’s perspective, and from the point of view of a manager, and to find an IT solution.
I will continue to work with the HSE, with the Research Laboratory for Science and Technology Studies Foresight Center at ISSEK. One of my main tasks is to develop Foresight methodology from the perspective of monitoring existing trends in science, technology, and innovation, and to implement ideas as programme solutions. I am involved in quantitative analysis of scientific publications, patents, and analytical documents – we extract the relevant information from them for further analysis and comparison. I also work with main expert surveys (including Delphi), they enable us to qualitatively evaluate developments in different areas of science and technology, and to test various hypotheses formed at the text analysis stage. The tasks that my colleagues and I solve in our day-to-day work are key issues not only for science, technology, and innovation in Russia, but for the majority of countries. This proximity to solving real current issues in science and economics makes my work very interesting.