Support for Independent Universities in Russia and Region
January 20, 2005 | Press Release | Higher Education in Russia & Africa

Grant funds support European Humanities University as it is forced to close in Belarus and operate in-exile in Lithuania

MacArthur has awarded five grants totaling more than $5 million in support of three independent universities in Russia and to help move the operations of the European Humanities University from Belarus, where it was closed by the government of President Alexander Lukashenko, to Lithuania where it will operate as a university in exile.

Strong democracies require strong universities and other centers of scholarly research," said Jonathan Fanton, President of the MacArthur Foundation. "When authoritarian regimes place limitations on independent thought, all of society suffers. The independent and state institutions MacArthur supports in Russia and the Post-Soviet region foster the atmosphere of open inquiry and humanitarian values in which freedom thrives."

Through its Initiative in the Russian Federation, established in 1992, the MacArthur Foundation makes grants totaling nearly $7 million annually in support of universities and scholarly infrastructure. These grants support twenty-five centers of excellence in Russian state universities, 16 in the natural and physical sciences and nine in the social sciences.  The Foundation also supports three independent universities in Russia, ten independent policy institutes, and five journals and scholarly networks that provide linkages for colleagues in different parts of the Russian Federation.

The following independent universities received funding to continue graduate training and research in the social sciences. This round of funding is designed to help lead the universities towards greater financial independence.

  • The European University at St. Petersburg received a grant of $1.45 million over five years to promote advanced scholarship and education in the social sciences and humanities.  The university, now in its ninth year, offers masters and doctoral programs in political science, sociology, economics, history and art history. Grant funds will be used for teaching and research activities, scholarships for out-of-town students, and to support some of the universitys core administrative functions. The grant will also allow the university to continue publishing through the EUSP Press, and increase its library collection one of the most comprehensive collections of contemporary social science literature in Russia.
  • A grant of $1.45 million over five years was awarded to the Friends of the Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences in support of the Schools masters programs in political science, sociology, law, arts and culture management, social work and social management, counseling and education all accredited through the University of Manchester, as well as an MBA program accredited through Kingston University in England and a PhD program operated in cooperation with Essex University in England. Grant funds will be used to support the departments of political science, sociology, law, arts and culture management, as well as the Center for Education Policy, a masters and professional development program designed primarily for officials in the education ministry. MacArthur support will also be used to expand the library collection, especially its electronic resources and Internet facilities.
  • The American Friends of the New Economic School received a grant of $1.25 million over five years in support of the Schools masters programs in economics. The New Economic School was founded in 1992 to help transform the economics discipline and profession in post-Soviet Russia.  Its graduates occupy important positions in Russian government ministries, the World Bank, and many foreign firms active in Russia. Grant funds will be used to increase the number of full-time, tenure-track faculty and for outreach to recruit more students.

A University in Exile European Humanities University

The American Council for International Education has received two grants totaling $900,000 to help establish the European Humanities University-International in Vilnius, Lithuania.  The European Humanities University which MacArthur had been supporting for a number of years had been based in Minsk, Belarus, until it was shut down in August 2004 by President Alexander Lukashenkos government.  Today, with the help of MacArthur and other donors, the university has reconfigured itself as EHU-International, and many of its programs are continuing under this new organizational form.  An office will be maintained in Minsk, but core administrative and distance learning operations for EHU International will be based in Vilnius. Grant funds will be used to strengthen the universitys PhD and Gender Studies programs and fund administrative costs and a new distance-learning program, through which EHU faculty will continue to offer courses to students in Belarus and elsewhere in the region. Activities of the new EHU-International will be carried out under the supervision of the American Councils for International Education, an exchange agency with significant field experience in the region.

Grantmaking Strategy: Initiative in the Russian Federation and Post-Soviet States

In Russia, the Foundation is committed to sustaining and advancing new generations of scholars and researchers whose efforts will contribute to resolving the social, economic, human rights, and security problems facing Russia. The Initiative has two key goals: to strengthen universities and scholarly infrastructure, and to support a Russia-wide network of human rights organizations. 

In support of universities and scholarly infrastructure, grants are awarded to new independent universities, centers of excellence in the sciences and social sciences at state universities, independent public policy institutes, and scholarly journals and networks.

The Initiatives support for human rights work in Russia is designed to help strengthen a Russia-wide network of human rights organizations that can effectively monitor human rights abuses, achieve redress for specific abuses, disseminate information on human rights to key domestic and international audience, and work toward systematic improvement in the implementation of human rights laws.  The strategy includes a substantive focus on the issue of police reform, and supports both national and local human rights organizations.

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