'Both the State and Business Need Specialists in Regional Expertise'
The peculiarity of the Bachelor’s programme 'Political Science and World Politics' is the opportunity to choose a regional track and the second foreign language. We talked to Yury Kabanov, Academic Supervisor of the programme, about the advantages of a regional track and how it helps the graduates.
– Mr Kabanov, could you tell us what regional tracks are?
– Our programme offers three tracks which students applying in 2022 can choose: Europe, Post-Soviet Space and China. Each track includes three consistent disciplines which are taught at the 3rd and 4th years of study. Usually, the first one is an introductory discipline on the distinctive features of politics and society in the chosen region. Later, the programme offers some more specialised disciplines on the peculiarities of governance and international relations. For example, the students of the European track scrutinise the internal structure and decision making in the European Union. The students of the Chinese track learn about internal and foreign policy, business environment in this country. The track on Post-Soviet Space includes courses on Social Policy and Public Administration in the CIS countries.
– Why do political scientists need to study specific regions?
– Firstly, political science is comparative. We often turn to the experience of other countries and try to figure out how the peculiarities of political, social and economic structure influence the reasons for certain events and processes. To perform a comparison correctly, you need at least basic knowledge of other states. Secondly, it is well-known that our programme pays a lot of attention to world politics. In this case, the regional track is an essential element in the training of any foreign affairs specialist. Thirdly, the applied component plays an important role as well: both the state and business need specialists in regional expertise who understand how to work with certain countries. For instance, a Russian company is expanding its business to China. Or the state builds its foreign policy with this country and needs analytical decision support. Certainly, they need a specialist who knows the language and specifics of the country.
– Are three disciplines enough to be well-versed in a region?
– Three disciplines are quite enough to immerse in the region and continue studying it, for example, within their research papers. Many students write term papers and theses about the region they have chosen in the framework of the track. But the balance is very important, a bachelor's degree should provide students with many universal skills. We do not aim at training a specialist who knows only the country on which he specialises. Employers see the regional track as an advantage, but usually it is not enough. An employee should master the methods of political analysis, be able to work with data and have communication and other skills. A major, analytical skills, the knowledge of a region and a language—all these things in combination help our graduates to find an interesting and prestigious job.
– How is the study of the second foreign language organised on the programme?
– The second foreign language is taught at the 2nd and 3rd years of study. We offer students applying in 2022 to choose from six languages: Spanish, Chinese, German, Portuguese or French; foreign students can study Russian as well. If you want to understand a region, it is better to speak their language. The language can help you in many ways: in academic mobility, during master's degree, in the research work or career. Our students learn the languages from scratch. Of course, the final result depends on the difficulty of the language and the efforts made. But there were cases when our students continued their studies on the master's programmes which were taught, for example, in French. So everything is achievable!
– How do the students choose a regional track and a foreign language?
– They do it the same way as with other elective courses. But the most important factor is the students' interests. If there are more students than places on the course, everything depends on the students' rating.
– Are there any extra activities for students who take interest in a certain region?
– As bachelor's students, they may already take part in various speaking clubs organised by HSE. For instance, there are French and Spanish-speaking clubs. It helps students both to practise the language and immerse themselves in the environment of the region. Sometimes experts take part in the clubs too, they share an interesting experience of studying a country or working in it. Moreover, students can undertake an internship in the company which works with this or that country.
– How does the knowledge of a region help the bachelor's graduates?
Firstly, it is an advantage for those who choose master's programmes with a regional focus or continue their studies in the relevant country. For example, the students who studied Post-Soviet Space can continue to scrutinise this region within the Master’s programme 'Comparative Politics of Eurasia'. Those who take interest in China can apply to 'Business and Politics in Modern Asia'. Besides, only the students of HSE University-St Petersburg study in China and Europe.
Second, it contributes to a career. This knowledge will be of use for translators, diplomatists and businessmen. If you want to work in a company which needs such specialists, your diploma will be an obvious advantage.