Center of Educational Technologies

Young People of Russia Facing Global Challenges at the Turn of the Centuries

Prof. Yu. A. Vasilyev,
Dr.Sc. (History),
Deputy Rector for Research,
Moscow Academy of Humanities and Social Sciences

E. A. Kafyrin,
Assistant Professor, M.Sc. in Philosophy,
Deputy Head, Department of Teaching and Learning Methods,
Moscow Academy of Humanities and Social Sciences


Adopted on May 15,1999, the Declaration proclaiming the Institute of Youth (Moscow Academy of Humanities and Social Sciences) a Culture of Peace Territory formulates the task of spreading in Russia the ideas and principles pertaining to a Culture of Peace by means of research, projects and programs aimed to make the young generation understand the commonality of mankind’s global problems and the desire to-build a new humane world free from violence.

The Culture of Peace Territory provides venue to international research projects related to studying the problems of peace culture and dialogue of civilizations, trends in development of the East European countries and the post-Soviet dimension. Among research partners are the International Institute Youth for Culture of Peace and Democracy, Higher School of Humanities (Szczecin, Poland), Center for Sociological Studies of Sofia University, National Education Institute (Sofia, Bulgaria), as well as other research and learning institutions.

Quite enriching for the contents and methodological orientation of the Academy’s research is participation of the Russian Intellectual Club, Research Center guided by A. A. Zinoviev, a world-famous philosopher, writer and humanist, the School for Methodology of Social Studies that is also governed by A. A. Zinoviev, as well as many outstanding scholars like N. Moiseyev, G. Marchuk, S. Kapitsa, et al.

The Russian Intellectual Club has actually become a kind of smelter, creative laboratory and methodological center for innovative ideas in the interests of both the Academy and Russia as a whole.

Our institution is engaged in setting up inter-faculty programs and projects. For enhancing the research activities (development of research and publication plans, tasking for studies and reports), the MAHSS departments have produced basic topical guidelines, with five inter-faculty research projects:

T. Russia in Socio-Cultural and political Space (the Faculties of Social and Political Philosophy, History, Sociology, Culture Studies, Conflict Studies, Regional Studies, Advertising Media Theory);

I.       Psychological Dynamics of Individual, Group and Social Community in a Changing Society (the Faculties of Individual Psychology’ and Pedagogy, General Psychology7 and History of Psychology7, Social and Ethnic Psychology);

II.      Social and Economic Relations in a Transitional Period (the Faculties of Economics and Enterprise, Social and Labor Relations, Management, Social Policies and Social Work, Social Medicine, World Economy and International Economic Relations, Mathematical and Computer Simulation);

III.     Status and Priorities of Russians Law (the Faculties of Theory and History of State Law, Civil and Business Law, State Law Disciplines, Criminal Law and Special Disciplines, Civil Procedure and Social Law);

IV.    Modem Advertising: Russians Trends and Specifics (the Faculties of Advertising and Mass Media Theory, Marketing in Advertising Area, Advertising Semiotics and Linguistics, Advertising Management, Creative Technologies in Advertising).

As has been regretfully admitted by B. A. Vinogradov, Russians Deputy Minister of Education, development of research priorities in the national education system is only in its nascent stage (B. Vinogradov, The Invigorating Power of Science // Higher Learning in Russia. 2000. No. 4. Collection 4).

Transition from preserving the scientific potential of the higher school to its development hinges on the need to enhance the process of integrating science and education, converting the Academy into an innovation complex. The higher learning community operates with the notion of scientific and pedagogical school that signifies the unity of science and education. It is in research and pedagogical schools of higher learning institutions the new knowledge, obtained from fundamental and innovative research, finds its first practical application in the learning process. Hence, the subject Formation of a Young Specialist, which in a natural way combines educational, research and upbringing components, is universal for all faculties of the Moscow Academy of Humanities and Social Sciences.

A teacher’s motivation largely depends on how far his or her personality has developed. N. N. Moiseyev, a great thinker, wrote in his book To Be or Not to Be for the Mankind?: “Whatever you say about the role of a collective principle in creative work and, in particular, in scientific activities; true creation has always been and will always be a deeply individual and often an intimate process. Surely; one needs to communicate and have teachers, friends and disciples. Of great importance are research schools that bring up youngsters. In the absence of communication and criticism, any creative offspring will inevitably wither. But / am a theoretician. During my life, my main partners in everyday work have been not teachers or friends or pupils. Initially it was a sheet of paper, then a computer. And books, of course; books” (N. N. Moiseyev. To Be or Not to Be for the Mankind? Moscow, 1999. P. 206).

University research is at the core of self-development for any education system. A college instructor cannot be just a transmitter of knowledge. He must be a generator; otherwise he will not be able to reproduce new generation of advanced knowledge carriers. Hence, research poses as a component of a colleges teaching process.

As the poll Teaching through Teachers Eyes among the Academy faculty has shown, 38.1 % of the instructors and professors rate their research performance as quite successful. Only 4 % displayed no interest in investigative work. 23.8 % of the respondents said they would like to prepare a monograph for the Teaching and Methodical Association of Russian Colleges, 26.6 % said they would like to write a textbook for the Association, and 10.8 % — a textbook for the Ministry of Education.

As shown by a survey of the higher learning system performed by the Russian Federation Ministry of Education, motivation for research activities is primarily determined by one’s personal scientific interest, after which comes the responsibility towards the faculty’s planned work. Among the young teachers prevails the need to write a thesis (See: Higher School in the Mirror of Sociology: Problems of College Science. Issue 3, Moscow, 1999, p. 6).

A most positive role for integrating education and research in the MAHSS is played by Alexander Zinoviev School for Methodology of Social Studies. According to the great thinker is words, he teaches his students to 'cultivate their brains. The School is attended by Academy undergraduates inclined to research (participants and winners of students! research contests). Contents-wise, the Zinoviev School is close to master-level training. Noteworthy, during 20 years of his forcible emigration in the West Zinoviev was vainly trying to attain the opportunity that he is having within the walls of the MAHSS.

The Academy pays special attention to students’ research. The poll Learning through the Eyes of Students has displayed positive changes in conditions created by the faculties for scientific creativity (29.6 % in 1999 against 32.8 % in 2000). Every third student testifies to quite favorable conditions for research, with only a few rating diem as unfavorable n every fourth only at the Advertising Department.

Proper conditions should be promoted not just for development of research within the chair boundaries, but also for enhancement of students! creativity, as they do not always obtain sufficient help from the faculties. As a result, in the field of independent research organization, every third MAHSS student has rated scientific communication with faculties as neutral. Combined with the number of students hesitant to evaluate these conditions, we obtain an impressive figure of 61.2 % who fail to see the Academy is interest in development of their research activities.

The students are practically unaware of research topics (42.9 %). Partial knowledge of faculty topics is attributed to about a half of respondents from all departments. Finally, only 8.8 % of students seem to know the research subjects well. At most, departments over 50 % of students have virtually no command of research subjects for major faculties n Foreign Relations, Law, Culture Studies, Advertising, and Economics.

These figures signify that work is needed to let students know the research topics and to ensure better communication between faculties and students having a penchant to research.

As for tutorship for term and degree papers, students from two departments (Law and Advertising) responded that they write these works practically on their own (40 to 50 %). At many departments (except for Law) over a half of the students say that they see their tutors occasionally. The Advertising students have no idea about their tutors (90 %). At four departments, every fifth student says that communication with the tutor is regular, whereas every fourth respondent at two departments n Culture Studies and Social Work, confirms this. Painstaking work is required to clarify and eradicate the roots of tutors! inattention to preparation and quality of students! papers.

During the previous year, the students! attitude to research papers contests has remained practically unchanged, despite some increment in positive assessment of contests. In 2000, 33.2 % of respondents wished to take part in the competition against 30.3 % in 1999. Obviously, if 66.8 % of the students have no motivation to participate, the situation will not improve by itself. Moreover, fewer people seem to know about the contest existence (68.2 against 71.3 %).

Stable year-on-year inertia of most of the students towards research groups that remain unwanted has been expressed by almost 93 % of the respondents. The Academy badly needs a students! research society that could stimulate their resourceful and ingenious thinking.

Responses on importance of research groups for the learning process reflect not the real assessment of actual groups! efficiency but, rather, suppositions and hopes of students for acquiring certain cognitive skills through group effort. In 1999, only 4.0 % of the students connected their possible self-realization with research group activities, whereas this survey displayed 20.5 % respondents seeing presence of such opportunities in the group work. According to the data obtained, the students see the groups as a means to reach deeper knowledge in the chosen specialty (31.5 %), better creative abilities (30.1 %), acquiring research methods (20.5 %).

Only 27.6 % of the students said they did not wish to join research teams, 21.5 % said they wished and 51.0 % said they were hesitant, which testifies to the Academy is considerable untapped creative potential.

Having obtained the academic status, we must live up to this level and permanently grow in the novel environment. The survey has shown that 41.7 % of Academy is faculty fails to take part in any kind of research and 31.2 % rate their research as unsuccessful. Among the barriers hampering fruitful research is the need for an extra job (40.7 %), excessive teaching and administrative burden (33.5 %) and absence of motivation — 7,3 %.

For enhancing research, respondents suggest improving material stimulation n 22 %, raising research pay n 13.4 %, attraction of professionals n 11 %. Tine structure of proposals gives a minor role to more conferences (2.3 %), publishing research papers (2.3 %), and strengthening connection with the learning process (2.3 %). Still less respondents (2.2 %) believe it is important to from conditions for a scientific school and demonstration of administrations will.

We shall have to concentrate on fundamental and priority issues rather than field-work research and maintain the teaching process with our own resources.


Source: Молодежь России перед лицом глобальных вызовов на рубеже веков (Как противостоять агрессивному экстремизму, ксенофобии и насилию среди молодежи) : Материалы Международной конференции, 18–19 ноября 2000 г., Москва, Россия / под научной и общей редакцией И. М. Ильинского. Перевод на англ. яз. М., 2001. С. 328–333. ISBN 5-85085-643-9.