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Regular version of the site

April Conference: Overview of 18 years

HSE bulletin Okna Rosta took an interview with Professor Andrei Yakovlev, Director of the HSE Institute for Industrial and Market Studies and member of the Programme Committee of the April Conference on Economic and Social Development, about the origins of the conference and how it changed and expanded over the years.  The HSE Look is glad to present the summarized translation of the interview to its readers.

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Launching a new conference

The idea of the conference was proposed by Professor Evgeny G. Yasin, HSE Academic Supervisor, after he resigned from his position in the government and fully focused on HSE in 1998. The preparations took us around a year and in 2000 the first April Conference was held. Its first round resembled a Faculty-level conference in scale, being only 1 day long and having just 4 different sessions. The major goal at the start was to create a platform for leading Russian and international scholars who were focused on Russia in their research and expertise. In later years the thematic field expanded to include also the challenges faced by developing countries and transitional economies of the world.

This broader scope was beneficial from two points of view. Firstly, it was an additional argument for our cooperation with the World Bank - each year they support the participation of seven or eight speakers from Eastern Europe and from developing countries with their travel grants. Secondly, it allows us to focus on comparative studies and to attract the researchers who are interested not only in Russia, but  who conduct comparative studies of developing economies.

Geography

From the very beginning, we were focused on cooperation with international colleagues, and initially these were primarily the experts from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Since then the number of internationally relevant sessions and international colleagues has been growing steadily. In recent years, out of about 500 reports that are presented at the conference, around 100 are done by international speakers. The geography of the participants is very wide: Eastern Europe, Germany, the USA, Japan, China, Australia. We also invite leading researchers and experts as honorary speakers. This gives an opportunity for the audience to get to know leading international scientists, and at the same time these scholars learn more about research at HSE and other prominent academic institutions.  Thanks to the April conference, leading Western experts in economics, political science, and sociology have a much deeper understanding of Russia.

Colleagues

We did our best to integrate colleagues from other key centres on economic and social research, both as the members of the Program Committee and as the heads of sessions and panels. These are, for example, the Russian Economic School (NES), the Center for Economic and Financial Research and Development, the Economic Expert Group. We’ve also been cooperating for a long time with the Association of Independent Economic Analysis Centers, which unites practically all leading think-tanks on economic policy.

Focus on research

Over time, the academic component of the conference expanded, reflecting that the Higher School of Economics grew in size and increased the diversity of its research agenda. Quite quickly, by the middle of the 2000s, the April conference became a widely popular academic event, and every year almost all Russian researchers of economics and social sciences gathered there to present the new ideas. It became a popular platform for discussing new papers with Russian and international colleagues to get feedback before presenting the idea abroad.

Initially emphasis was placed on applied research and expert discussions. While they do remain relevant, the April Conference is also known as a platform for presenting results of fundamental research.

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The April Conference of 2017 is over, and its highlights can be viewed on the HSE website. The call for papers for the next year is not too far away – and if you plan to attend as a speaker, make sure to plan ahead and submit the application this fall in early November. The HSE Look will keep the readers updated on the relevant deadlines.