New Analytical Center to Serve Government Interests

20.04.10

New Analytical Center to Serve Government Interests

Эксперты МГИМО: Орлов Александр Арсеньевич, к.ист.н.

The Institute Of International Studies (IIS) at MGIMO-University of Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) was formed in May 2009 as successor to the university’s Problem Research Laboratory for Systems Analysis of International Relations founded in 1976. The founding of the IIS should be seen as an important event in the continuing development of MGIMO-University, an essential phase in turning it into not only a recognized center of education but a world-standard research center as well.

A closer bond between science, education and practice is essential for the making of modern society. All the major universities in the world are also big research centers. The leading nations on the planet foster a fusion between academic and expert knowledge, theoretical training and developing practical skills. This is in line with the traditions and the main strategic development of MGIMO-University, which has every reason for regarding itself as one of the cutting-edge national universities doing research into the key sociopolitical disciplines.

The IIS is called upon to tackle important problems relating to forward planning of Russia’s foreign policy, to find ways for closer integration between the strategic vision and implementation of tactical and functional foreign-policy priorities, to increase the intellectual potential of the management process in the country’s foreign policy, to develop common approaches to foreign policy for the various departments and ministries, academics, government officials, NGOs, the leading political parties and big business.

The IIS is trying to meet these objectives through regular conferences, workshops, round-table discussions and publication of the findings of theoretical and practical studies.

One important distinguishing characteristic of the Institute of International Studies is that this is a leading analytical agency working for the government. In addition to Russia’s MFA, which is naturally a customer of IIS, its analytical products are of interest to virtually all government agencies dealing with the shaping of Russia’s foreign policy, including the Presidential Executive Office, working for which is both a great responsibility and honor.

The unique role of IIS is that this institute deals with more than a narrow special subject; it deals with all pivotal matters of international relations. At the moment, IIS brings together 11 research centers, each of which is a recognized center of expert knowledge in a particular field. The most familiar of them are as follows: the Center of Global Problems, the Center of Euro-Atlantic Security, the Center of Caucasus Studies, the Center of East Asia and SCO [Shanghai Cooperation Organization] Studies, the Center of Partnership of Civilizations, and the Center of Middle Eastern Studies. Gaining momentum is the Center of Analytical Monitoring which has all the makings of becoming the nucleus of a constantly operating system of situational analysis of international relations.

In long term, IIS will set up a number of unique centers for the study of international problems that are likely to gain the defining nature, including in the context of Russia’s national interests. I have in mind research into strategic stability and security, new challenges and threats, the UN and peacemaking, world economic processes, problems of BRIC [Brazil, Russia, India and China], international environmental and climatic problems, questions of falsification of history, computerization and information security, etc.

IIS is going to be one of the leading intellectual hubs to put forward and develop innovative scientific and practical ideas pertaining to international relations and Russia’s foreign policy. In today’s world, the open-ness to innovation of foreign policy and its ability to generate new offbeat ideas constitute a powerful additional resource of any government. Our country’s foreign policy was traditionally noted for stressing initiative. This enabled us to stay in the forefront of world politics and to a considerable extent formulate its rules and procedures. Many of Moscow’s unconventional proposals — even if the other major powers initially turned them down — became later converted to important international ideas. As such, they gradually became part of the world’s information landscape and served to alter the prevailing ideas of the horizons of inter-national relations. Generating long-term changes in the very structure of international interactions is typical, above all, of the new ideas that had been studied in-depth and in a comprehensive manner by the academic and expert community.

It is of exceptional importance for pioneering scientific ideas to be rooted in practical experience. One of the major but still insufficiently tapped resources of our foreign policy consists in pooling the efforts of theoreticians and practitioners to achieve specific goals, especially if all of them work for Russia’s MFA.

The unique role of IIS is that this institute deals with more than a narrow special subject; it deals with all pivotal matters of international relations.

One of the forms of such cooperation, one can imagine, would be the setting up of temporary ad hoc working groups (of 10 to 12 persons) comprised of practical workers (including workers from other departments and ministries) and scientists for compiling analytic and prognostic documents on the most pressing issues of world politics of short-, medium-and long-term importance, depending on the task assigned. This systemic approach would make it possible to forecast possible turns in international relations and react in advance to possible risks and threats to Russia’s national interests.

We could also dream about an even more ambitious plan — to create a powerful analytical center based on the Department for Foreign Policy Planning (DFPP) and the IIS, an analogue (under modern conditions) of the legendary Administration for Planning Foreign Policy Measures (UPVM, after its Russian abbreviation) responsible in the Soviet Foreign Ministry for liaison with the ministry’s divisions and generation of foreign policy initiatives.

The pooling of academic and practical efforts is characteristic of the leading countries in the world. This is the substance of modern development tendencies aiming at creating conditions for a mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and personnel to serve as best as possible the government interests as best as possible. This practice, as far as Russia is concerned, is more an exception than the rule. Our diplomatic service in this sense is more conservative, inert and divided into castes unlike its Western counterparts which have always been drawing on science and even business. The need for the latter, however, is an objective need prompted by the very logic of evolution of modern society.

Further development of MGIMO-University, as a world-standard research and training center, calls for an organizational medium where new scientific ideas and studies turn into university courses and upgrade teaching methods. As a center integrating research and teaching, IIS has the following objectives: 1. To identify the most promising avenues of developing social sciences and upgrading teaching methods at the university. 2. To focus the efforts of leading researchers and teachers of MGIMO-University on these promising avenues. 3. To accelerate the fusion between research and teaching.

Working towards these objectives will help MGIMO-University adopt major interdisciplinary innovatory research and education programs aimed at scoring advances in a number of areas of research and train specialists rated here and abroad as highly skilled and capable of contributing in a big way to modernizing Russia.

The goals set by IIS may seem too ambitious, but experience shows that failing to set major goals, one is likely to spin the wheels for a long time without knowing it. MGIMO-University’s philosophy is to work hard to achieve its goals, all the more so because these goals accord with the state’s development goals.

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Источник: International Affairs
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