MacArthur Foundation Increases Commitment to Russian Higher Education
November 11, 2009 | Press Release | Technology in the Public Interest

MacArthur is increasing its cumulative support for a network of Russian scientific research and education centers to more than $31.6 million. A new grant of $1.5 million announced today will help sustain the network of 20 university-based centers across Russia.

The centers, which emphasize the natural and physical sciences, are part of the Program on Basic Research and Higher Education, a joint effort of the United States Civilian Research and Development Foundation and the Russian Ministry of Education and Science, with support from MacArthur and the Carnegie Corporation of New York. Launched in 1998 to assist in rebuilding the scientific workforce following the Soviet era, the program has helped state universities integrate teaching and research, modernize scientific equipment, train a new generation of scientists in Russian higher education, enhance international linkages, and benefit from technology commercialization.

Since 2003, more than 400 young scientists have received teaching and research fellowships through the program. Based on the success of the program, which began as a pilot at the Nizhnii Novgorod State University, the Russian government has unilaterally funded 35 new research and education centers, four of which have become part of the Program on Basic Research and Higher Education.

“Russia has made tremendous strides in strengthening higher education,” said John Slocum, Co-Chair of MacArthur’s Higher Education Initiative in Russia. “The MacArthur Foundation is pleased to work closely with Russian universities to help develop a generation of scholars who can produce groundbreaking research to address Russian and global concerns.”

The new $1.5 million grant will support the final phase of the program, which is designed to protect and enhance the investments MacArthur and its U.S. and Russian partners have made in the initiative over the past decade, as the Russian government takes on more responsibility for the funding and development of the network. The grant will fund training and other learning activities for young scientists, including training in scientific English, and support international peer-review for research proposals submitted to the Russian government, which, in recent years, has dramatically increased funding for higher education, science, and technology.

Activities to be funded include:

  • Joint conferences for young scientists at the 20 research centers to discuss current research and administrative topics and share best practices, and small grants for international conference travel and the maintenance and upgrade of research equipment;
  • An annual three-week English-language immersion course for 64 undergraduate and graduate students and post-doctoral level researchers a year to increase their ability to participate in international scientific events, as well as training for English instructors at research centers; and
  • International peer review of grant proposals submitted to the Russian Ministry of Education and Science to reinforce merit-based grantmaking in Russia.

The grant will be administered by the U.S. Civilian Research and Development Foundation (CRDF), which is a nonprofit organization established in 1995 by the National Science Foundation to promote international scientific and technical collaboration.

“We are very pleased to receive this latest MacArthur grant to continue the Basic Research and Higher Education (BRHE) program in Russia,” Cathy Campbell, President and CEO of CRDF, said. “CRDF has worked through BRHE for over ten years with the Russian Ministry of Education and Science to forge and strengthen the link between research and education in Russian universities. With this new grant, CRDF will emphasize building the capabilities of early-career scientists, while also helping ensure the sustainability of the Research and Education Centers where they work.”

The Program on Basic Research and Higher Education represents the flagship activity of MacArthur’s higher education initiative in Russia, which seeks to foster robust, independent, internationally oriented academic institutions that can contribute to Russia’s long-term development as an economically stable, peaceful, and democratic society.

Since 1992, MacArthur has awarded more than $140 million in grants for work in Russia. The Foundation works together with educational institutions, nongovernmental organizations, and the government of the Russian Federation to strengthen the Russian scholarly community; advance legal reform and human rights; and support projects that advance international peace and security.

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