‘Global and Regional History’ Master’s Programme Seeks Future Historians, Anthropologists, and More
In 2020, HSE - St. Petersburg is launching a new master's programme in ‘Global and Regional History’, which will replace the ‘Applied and Interdisciplinary History’ Programme. The HSE University - Saint Petersburg editorial office interviewed Nikolai Ssorin-Chaikov, Programme Head and anthropologist, about the programme's a global approach to studying history and its international partnerships.
- How is the programme different than the previous master's programme in 'Applied and Interdisciplinary History'?
- The 'Applied and Interdisciplinary History' programme focuses on the practical application of history. In 'Global and Regional History', we emphasize research and scholarship. Students will be involved in academic projects and have the opportunity to continue their studies at PhD level. We prepare students for post-graduate programmes in Russia and abroad, such as the HSE University and the University of Turin joint programme. The new master's programme is an exciting addition to HSE's strong programmes in history, which also include undergraduate and postgraduate programmes.
Regardless of students career aspirations, the programme's research-oriented education will be useful to them. It broadens one's horizons, develops analytical skills, and encourages language learning. By combining these elements, the programme enables one to work for historical and cultural projects not only in Russia but also abroad.
- Who is eligible to apply to the ‘Global and Regional History’ Programme?
- The programme welcomes applications from students with or without experience in the fields of history and athropology. Students with a strong background in these subjects and students who are newcomers to the fields should have a strong commitment to research and learning.
The needs, skills, and interests of each student are the focus of our programme. If you already have a strong background in history and want to pursue an academic career, you are welcome to apply to get a master's degree. At the same time, the programme may introduce history to you and become an opportunity to change your field of studies.
- Why is the programme called 'Global and Regional History'?
- Nowadays, global history and anthropology are the main components of the humanities. It is difficult to understand the reasons for ongoing processes in a particular territory without an understanding of global interconnections. That is why global history is the basic framework of the programme.
One more example is Fernand Braudel's famous book The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II. Braudel considers the sea points of trade, diplomacy, migrations, and communication lines, which extend far beyond the borders of the Mediterranean. To put it in other words, one can conduct local area analysis given that one has a world understanding and knows global scientific theories. The frame is global but the focus is local.
- As the programme description says, 'Global and Regional History' departs from the traditional approach widely used in Russia when they divide history into local history and world history. Why?
- Usually, Russian History and World History are taught independently at Russian universities. Research and literature on these areas hardly interconnect. This division affects postgraduate school and further academic career. Even the Russian Academy of Science has the Institute of Russian History and the Institute of World History.
The global frame reinforces a scientific component of education and provides other career opportunities for students. Theoretical knowledge, broad-mindedness, and strong analytical capabilities are beneficial qualities for both a scholar and an art gallery or editorial office employee.
- What are some examples of courses taught on the programme?
- Professor Anisimov, Chief Research Fellow of the St. Petersburg Institute of History of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS), will teach a course 'History of Saint Petersburg'. This course is an illustrative example of what one can learn in the programme. The history of Saint Petersburg is regional and global at the same time. To explore Saint Petersburg, it is important to understand who created this city and lived here. The city's architects, poets, researchers, artists, bakers, and coachmen were of various origins. In order to explore a city, one should contextualize it within a global framework. Other courses in the programme take the same approach. They all are based on studying the global through the local, regardless of the division into national history or global history.
The 'Digital Humanities' course will enable students to learn new technologies and tools for studying history, e.g. special computer software and tools for the digitalization of archives. This course will also consider modern society life alongside digital data. Students will study what digital society is and how we live and exist in the big data era.
- What are the core courses of the programme? Will students have any elective courses?
- The core courses focus on methodology, e.g. courses on 'Global Imperial History', 'Anthropology of Religion', and 'History of Sciences'. They focus on theoretical frameworks and analytical tools.
- Why is the programme taught in English?
- Our goal is to help students integrate into international academic society. A modern international researcher can debate, read the newest research of foreign peers, express his or her ideas in research articles for international journals, in English. This level is achieved gradually. Students will have the opportunity to write their theses and assignments in Russian if a course is taught in Russian, such as in 'History of Saint Petersburg'. However, the main goal of the programme is to teach students to work in English.
Working closely with international students is beneficial for Russian students. People from different countries conduct themselves differently in seminars and share alternative opinions. So students develop their understanding of people of other social and educational backgrounds. The programme creates an environment where one can witness different communication styles and various approaches to studying. This environment changes a student.
- What international partners does the programme have?
- The programme has developed a partnership with the University of Jyväskylä in Finland, the University of York, University of Munich, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (Free University of Amsterdam), and the University of Turin. Students go to partner universities on exchange programmes or to complete internships.
- How will students be engaged in research?
- It is arranged in the form of mandatory research projects. Students can carry out their research activities in groups or independently. Research projects will last two years, starting from the first semester.
The programme also includes research seminars where students will form research aims for their theses and projects and learn how to apply the research methods. The seminar creates an environment that encourages constructive dialogue between students and lecturers.
The Department of History has research centres where students can also do research. First and foremost, it is the Centre for Historical Research. It has the Laboratory for Environmental and Technological History and the 'Post-Imperial Diversities' project, where researchers from Finland and Germany work.
- What internships does the programme offer students?
- We arrange internships in archives, museums, and cultural centres. It may be related to the project activity, but it is not required. Students work for these organizations for a while.
As part of their internships, students can also help organize exhibitions and excursions in museums. HSE University - Saint Petersburg has the Joint Department with Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (the Kunstkamera) of RAS. We work closely with the museum and its director Andrey Golovnev. The Kunstkamera always welcomes student’s assistance.
Peterhof State Museum-Reserve is also a place students can intern. We plan to work with Lenfilm studio and cultural centres, such as New Holland, to allow our students to intern there as well. In addition, students can make their own suggestions about organizations at which they would like to intern. We are happy to work all kinds of cultural organizations.