Dr. Vera Zabotkina: "In the global educational space we are accepted as equals"
 Dr. Vera Zabotkina: "In the global educational space we are accepted as equals"

Dr. Vera Zabotkina: "In the global educational space we are accepted as equals"

Dr. Vera Zabotkina, Vice-Rector for International Cooperation of RSUH, talks about how the University wins in prestigious international educational projects and how this affects its position in the field of humanities in the world.

— What new programs and projects are currently being implemented at RSUH as part of international cooperation?

— First of all, in August 2020, RSUH, along with members of a consortium of 12 universities, won the contest for international European projects in the Erasmus+ category. The project title is "Development of the potential of higher education using elements of STEAM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics)". The result of this three-year project will be the creation of a Master's program in Digital Humanities at RSUH.

The main focus of this project is the application of the methods of the exact sciences in the humanities, which should lead to an increase in the status of humanities in the world and the development of new educational programs.

The project coordinator from the European side is the University of Cologne, Germany, where a Master's program in digital humanities is already being offered at a Center of Digital Humanities. The project will also involve universities in Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Mongolia.

— Which Russian universities, besides Russian State University for the Humanities, are participating in this project?

— On the Russian side, the consortium includes Perm State National Research University, Kant Baltic Federal University, and Tuvan State University.

— How will the work of the project be structured?

— During the first year, the participants will hold interuniversity seminars and conferences at the universities that are already implementing advanced Master's programs in digital humanities. In addition, training workshops will be held for the faculty and staff involved in the program. Of course, we really want it all to take place face-to-face, offline.

The second year of the project will be devoted to testing and piloting the program. That is, students of RSUH will go abroad on academic exchange to those European universities where the program is already being implemented.

And by the end of the third year, we will have developed our own Master's program in digital humanities and separate modules within the existing Master's programs. The task is not easy, but we have already had promising experience in this area: the Center for Digital Humanities and the International Institute of New Educational Technologies are already operating at RSUH and introducing modern technologies into the educational process.

— When will the project start?

— Due to the pandemic, the dates have shifted a little. The first meeting of the consortium will be held online on March 5 of this year. The entire project is scheduled in stages, deadlines and algorithms facilitating the achievement of the desired result. We will be inviting employees of the Section of Education and Methodology and professors of international affairs for participation. Knowledge of English is a necessary prerequisite, since all communication will be conducted in this language.

— What students will be interested in the program?

— First of all, this program will be of interest to students of humanities, historians and archivists dealing with electronic archives. The program involves access to electronic translation resources, so it should also interest students of the Department of Translation and Interpreting. In addition, it will be of use to the students of the Faculty of International Relations who are involved in the application of Big Data in their field and to students of the Faculty of Art History, engaged in the digitization of museum activities. The project is only beginning and we will provide more information as it develops.

— What other international projects does RSUH participate in?

— RSUH participates in 24 international projects. Among them there is a very prestigious one, a joint international Master's program “Literary Cultures of Europe” within the Erasmus Mundus program. For the first three years (2015 to 2018) we were an associate member of a large consortium of universities led by the University of Bologna. Since 2019, RSUH has been a full member of the consortium. The consortium includes the University of Strasbourg, the University of Lisbon, the University of Thessaloniki and the University of Dakar. The entire program is offered in English, French and Russian.

As part of this program, a Master's student from Iran has already enrolled in RSUH. The program is European, but it is open to any citizen of any country in the world. I would like students who speak Russian to come to us. Our Iranian student speaks fluent Russian. In the first year of the program he will study with us, and then go to the universities of Bologna and Strasbourg. Currently the classes are held online.

Recently, the students have been selected for this program for the new academic year (2021-2022). Nine students from European countries and 16 from countries of other continents applied for study at RSUH. The selection process was very rigorous. The final results will be announced in April. Knowledge of the Russian language is a prerequisite: the applicants must demonstrate not only knowledge of literature, but also the country-specific linguistic competencies.

— How did you manage to improve the status of our university in this project?

— The decisive role in the process of admitting RSUH to the consortium as an equal participant was played by the high academic level of the faculty of the Department of Comparative Literary History, as they are fluent in foreign languages and read lecture in them. Before accepting us, the colleagues from Bologna invited our professor of the Department of Comparative Literary History, Dr. Elena Galtsova, who is one of the leading experts in the field of French literature in Russia, to give lectures in French at the universities of Bologna and Strasbourg. The final decision was made on the basis of the high evaluation of the lectures by students and faculty of the partner universities.

Many Russian universities would like to be members, but this is very difficult to achieve.

— How will participation in this consortium affect the positions of RSUH in international humanities?

— Membership in an international consortium is very prestigious and undoubtedly improves the reputation of our university in the international academic community. Information on participation in international consortia is taken into account in the monitoring held by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education. In addition, this is a wealth of experience that the implementation of international Master's programs brings to an institution. The participation of Russia in general and our university in particular in programs of this kind, is a good example of our country's entry into the global educational space, where we are accepted as equals.