'When the Altruistic and Selfish Comes Together'
Interview with Assistant Professor at the Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs, Andrej Krickovic
- Why did you come to work at HSE?
- Through studying the region and doing fieldwork as a postgraduate student at Harvard I met a lot of people from the Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs. I met Anastasia Likhacheva in Harvard. She is a Junior Research Fellow at HSE and now we are sharing an office. I met the Dean, Sergey Karaganov, over the course of my studies. I interviewed him for my graduate work. I met the Dean of the Faculty of Politics, Andrey Melvil, when I was at Berkeley because he has a very good relationship with some of the people from our faculty. I know a lot of the other people from the research I did. So, it wasn’t a very difficult choice and it’s very nice to be at a place where every time I go to work I am doing field research. At Harvard I had to schedule a trip, get funding, here I just have to walk out of my front door and I am doing research!
- What are your research interests?
- I work on Russian foreign policy, Russia and its relationships with international institutions, as well as research on ties that do not bind Russia to the international liberal order. It is all about how powers like Russia challenge international institutions that work with the transformation of the region. My research argues against the idea that there is an international liberal order that can really restrain rising states so that we will have a very peaceful transition to a multipolar system. I think it is going to be much more conflictual and that was the argument I made in my dissertation. At Harvard I was working on regional integration in the post-Soviet space and I wrote an article there that I am trying to get published now.
- Speaking about getting published, you initiated a working group on peer-reviewed publishing. How does it function?
- It’s a working group on publishing in political science or a “poli sci” working group. The point is for people to come and present papers and articles they are working on and to get feedback from other participants. There is a clear goal: I want to get this paper published. So what do I have to do to get past this obstacle? What are the problems with the paper theoretically, methodologically, in terms of the empirical evidence? But also where can I get this published? Is it too long or too short? Does it have to be more oriented towards policy? Does it have to be more oriented towards theory? Those are the kinds of questions asked in our working group. It’s not a very big group and we are not looking for a mass audience to show up. We are looking for people who are ready to come and become a part of our little community. But it requires that people should do the reading. So there is a little bit of an investment, but the payoff is that once or twice a semester you’ll also get to present your own work and you’ll get people to give you feedback. People who have presented have found it worthwhile.
- How did you come up with the idea to start this working group?
- When I was in Harvard last year as a postdoc they had these working groups and it was a tremendous help. Peer-review publishing is very difficult. I think people underestimate how difficult it is to get an article published in a very good peer-reviewed journal. It can take months and even years to do. Having this step in a process really simplifies it. People send out their paper in the best possible shape it can be. They are able to address some of the comments peer-reviewers would have before they start the process. I think that if these kind of groups don’t exist here yet, then I hope that the idea would proliferate in other departments and areas because it is a very good institution. I did it partially out of selfish reasons because I want my articles to get published. It is essential to have feedback and commentary from your colleagues. And I think it’s important for the university to increase its presence in foreign peer-reviewed journals. I hope our group can contribute to this larger goal. I did it for altruistic but also selfish reasons: so the altruistic and selfish come together.
- What in your opinion needs to be done to make your faculty more internationalised?
- I think there is a good plan. I know they have experience with the Fulbrighters coming in, so they opened this up for visiting people. I also support the idea of bringing senior scholars over to work with the junior faculty and graduate students on a short-term basis. Another thing is maybe to make English more of a requirement. There are not so many courses being taught in English at the moment. It’s important if the university wants to be international and work on its ranking to have people publishing abroad. I think there should be a goal to have more classes in English and that will help people write in English. I know it is hard for the students but it’s like medicine: it might taste bad but it makes you stronger. I would be very sympathetic to that and help people improve their use of the language. It is especially difficult when you start reading things that are theoretical or abstract and writing is always a challenge. I know there are resources here. Another thing that needs to be worked on is to integrate things that exist. There is a writing centre. I looked at their website and spoke with the people there. It seems like it’s a very good resource. Oftentimes these resources are underutilised, so I would encourage people to use them. It’s important for professors when they are giving lectures and their students seem to have a problem with their English or writing in English to point them in the right direction. I think that would also be important in moving forward with the internationalisation of this faculty and the university to have more cooperation between the faculty and different centres so that people know what is going on everywhere and they can come together to make this bigger project happen.
- What could encourage different departments to work together?
- It’s always going to be a problem. Everybody is doing their own thing and they are often isolated. What happens in the US, as far as I experienced at Berkley, is that there were a lot of joint events going on. So let’s say that when one institute or one faculty was sponsoring something they would come together - they usually have to because they don't have enough money to put an event together by themselves - but I think that really helped. Finding joint programmes, finding joint ways to use the resources in a more effective way, teaching classes together, and putting on conferences would be a good way to move forward.
Andrej Krickovic was born in Croatia. At the age of three he moved to the US where he received a PhD in political science from the University of California at Berkeley in 2012. After completing his dissertation on Russian foreign policy and Russia’s relationships with international institutions, Dr. Krickovic completed a postdoc in Harvard where he did research on the topic of regional integration in the post-Soviet space. Andrej’s interests beyond work include travelling, cooking, and sailing the Adriatic Sea in his native Croatia.