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RSSIA: SCHOOL TO UNCOVER YOUR RESEARCH POTENTIAL

In anticipation of a call for RSSIA 2018 that is due very soon, in December, we have got nostalgic about the past summer and decided to share some details with you.

Every summer since 2007 the Center for Institutional Studies of the National Research University Higher School of Economics organises the annual Russian Summer School (RSSIA, https://rssia.hse.ru/). Students and researchers from around the world come to enjoy a whole week of lectures and consultations, to present, discuss and polish their projects, to network and to gain research inspiration from masters.
The eleventh edition of RSSIA took place on July 1-7 2017 in Moscow region. This year RSSIA was honored to be supported by the Erasmus+ Jean Monnet Programme of the European Commission and the Egor Gaidar Fund. Carried under the name "The EU Practices for Young Researchers: Studying Economics of Institutional Development", it focused on recent developments in new institutional economics (NIE) and possibilities and challenges of applied research in the related fields.
RSSIA 2017 participants’ interests covered quite a wide range of topics related to corruption and economic growth, banking, higher education, etc. In order to provide an example, let us share titles of some curious research projects presented this year: “Eliciting Households’ Cooperation for Efficient Waste Management” (Shivani Wadehra, TERI University), “Positional Externality with Multiple Brands: Why Market Structure, Societal Values and Good Regulation Matter?” (Maciej Lisik, University of Oxford), “The Role of Social Networks and Health Behavior in Student Academic Performance” (Margarita Prijmak, HSE), “The “Company Towns” Phenomenon: New Applications” (Adelia Fatikhova, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration).
RSSIA tends to stick to quite a traditional form: students attend lectures, present their projects and discuss them with peers and faculty. On the first day participants face the first challenge: they are to present the main idea of their research in only three minutes and one presentation slide. Though speeches are short, questions are often excruciating and discussions are heated. Having received immediate feedback, students are left to a short period of thoughts. Following two days are devoted to face to face talks with faculty and intensive work of urgent improvement. On the fourth and fifth days participants present their projects yet again, renewed and extended. This time they have 10-12 minutes at their command. Not only they are expected to tell what they have done, but what they are planning to do with regard of feedback they have received at RSSIA. However, even this is not the last test for students. They must also try themselves as discussants. As a result, every participant leaves the school with extensive baggage of thoughts to consider received from experienced experts and young colleagues.
Not unlike common schools we are all used to, RSSIA has faculty who are completely devoted to their students for the whole week. They give lectures, they offer formal consultations on each project presented, they provide informal advice to any participant seeking for it – in other words, they help students reach their best results.
Having taught at RSSIA for several years in a row, some faculty members have already become residents of RSSIA: HSE vice-rector Maria Yudkevich, Professor of Economics at Ghent University Koen Schoors, Professor of Economic Policy at University of Padova Paola Valbonesi, and of course, Professor of Economics at George Mason University John Nye starting each school with a legendary and fundamentally important talk on how to present a research. Moreover, this year RSSIA welcomed Christian Brownlees (Universitat Pompeu Fabra), Peter Bentley (University of Melbourne) and Elena Shakina (HSE).
One of the RSSIA traditions is to invite a guest lecturer for one day in order to provide even more diversity in research topics and views on research agenda. Previously guest lecturers were John Dewey Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy Konstantin Sonin and Research Professor at Universitat Pompeu Fabra Ruben Enikolopov, and this year Research Fellow at Stockholm School of Economics Elena Paltseva served as such. Elena spoke about the results of her latest project that studies the link between various political institutes and corruption in resource based economic systems. She also kindly agreed to allocate some of her time to consulting students since her research expertise was closely related to many participants’ works.
Last, but not least, there is one more perk to being a RSSIA participant. Apart from hard work, participants can rest and enjoy nature during breaks. RSSIAs are always held away from Moscow rush, en plein air. This year it was held in a scenic Moscow suburb in the Areal Congress hotel. RSSIA is also certainly a great networking playground for young researchers. Many participants find fellow thinkers and start productive cooperation.
After RSSIA, most participants succeed in having their papers published in acknowledged scientific journals. Sometimes our students come back to us as experts, as in case of Elena Shakina, who was a participant back in 2015, and now she is in the faculty team, being the head of the International Laboratory of Intangible-driven Economy, HSE Perm, and the head of the Bachelor’s programme 'International Business and Management Studies', HSE St.Petersburg.
Every year we are aiming to disseminate best practices of institutional change and effective institutional reforms to assure their successful application at the less developed markets and the economies in or immediately after the transition. For the last 10 years we have been consciously moving towards realisation of this idea. Each year we have been trying to attract more and more international participants pursuing research goals similar to ours. For the first three years the school was help solely in Russian, but in 2010 English became the official language of the school, faculty from most distinguished research and education institutions of the world started to give lectures at RSSIA, more and more overseas researchers applied to join us. Apart from various regions of Russia, we enjoyed participants who came from India, the Philippines, Nigeria, Indonesia, China, Japan, the US, different countries of Europe (Austria, the UK, Spain, the Netherlands, Germany, France, etc.). It often took some of our participants very long to get to Russia, and we are thankful to them for being with us.
All that said, we have there is no doubt left that RSSIA is a unique opportunity for young researchers to make a big solid step towards professionalism and scientific expertise in all aspects. Even though RSSIA is held in summer, we are already (and always) on the lookout for the brightest and the most industrious from around the world to become our participants.
Join our community to be among the first to learn the news at https://www.facebook.com/rssiahse
We will open a call for applications for RSSIA 2018 in a couple of weeks, so keep track and don’t miss out!