Видеозапись семинара "The Genesis of the Soviet System of Higher Learning: Institutional Peculiarities and Historical Legacies"
Michael David-Fox - Professor, Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service/Dept. of History, Georgetown University
This talk will consider the institutional division of higher learning (higher education and science) in the Soviet Union into two bifurcated parts: a highly privileged Academy of Sciences that dominated advanced research and a downgraded university sector that departed from the research university model emerging before 1917. The genesis of the Soviet system will be considered historically. After briefly considering the legacy of higher learning in imperial and especially late imperial Russia, the talk will discuss the place of universities and the Academy of Sciences occupied after 1917. In addition, attention will be paid to the goals and models important to top Bolshevik figures in the early Soviet years, such as the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gesellschaft in Germany. The division between “non-party” institutions such as universities and new, communist institutions (such as the Institut krasnoi professury and the Kommunisticheskaia akademiia), it will be argued, was crucial for both the “bolshevization” of the Academy of Sciences after 1928 and the assault on the old universities between 1928-32 that almost destroyed them as institutions. Quite unlike the history of the Academy of Sciences, the assault on the universities, which reached its height in 1930, remains an episode relatively little known among higher education experts and little studied by historians even today. At the end, the talk will consider some of the long-term legacies of the first Five-Year Plan period for higher learning for the duration of the Soviet period and even the post-Soviet revival of universities in Russia today.