Yevgeny Mironov: “The level of Summer Campus students notably rose”
An interview with the director of the group of tutors and moderators at Summer Campus-2016, dean of the liberal arts department at RANEPA’s School of Public Policy Yevgeny Mironov.
Were you satisfied with the final projects presented and defended by the students?
- The Summer Campus is not a learning event in a purely academic sense, when you are happy that the students learned the correct answer. Here we had a somewhat different situation. If one seriously considers the questions we asked here, then here even governments and consulting bodies do not have any final answers for them, there are only effective strategies for resolving them. The students made a serious step forward in comparison with how they arrived, and in this sense I am happy. They reached a different level of conversation, when you understand that any of your management decisions are limited, they have risks and you are taking responsibility for them. The students grasped this position, this special way of thinking, which often distinguishes a manager who can engage in strategic planning from simply a good student.
The majority of students chose about the same cases from the four that were proposed. How do you feel about this?
- Indeed there were only four cases, which were intentionally formulated in general terms so that the teams could give their own definition of these problems. Over the course of 10 days they resolved all four, but for the final presentation it was necessary to select at least two. The majority picked the situation with the proliferation of weapons and the situation connected with migration. I am perfectly calm about this, this shows what worries them, which problems they may emotionally endure. We had a case on regional conflicts and there was a case on shale gas and oil, which have good economic prospects, but have very many ecological risks. It is clear that these two cases could have seemed more difficult. For now they do not correspond to students’ experiences, because each of them has in one way or another run into migration. The proliferation of weapons, the problem of violence, we read about this in the news every day over the course of Summer Campus. This is a sign that people are captivated by what affects them, by what is important for them to speak with us about.
It was clear that the attendees gave their vote to Team 10 for the brightest presentation from a creative point of view. What did you, as experts, look at – at the depth of development of the cases or at other aspects?
- We evaluated them according to various criteria. We were also very interested in the artistic, or rather, the presentation part. The value of intellectual decisions in the modern world is not as high if they are not presented in the right way. Of course, we paid more attention to strategy behind the decision. Team 10, which won, found a very correct balance between presentation and content. This the first time in the history of Summer Campus that the opinions of the experts and the audience were completely in line with one another. This time we decided to reward two teams. This is not first and second place. We though that the experts should also encourage Team 3, which did not receive the main price, but proposed an interesting intellectual approach and conducted an experiment. The search for new solutions is always a risky thing. This time we decided to award a second price with a discount on studying in RANEPA’s master’s program.
It is still important to understand that Campus is not one of those places where we gather for the sake of competition. Frankly speaking, for the last three Campus forums this competitiveness has gradually decreased, because the level of projects is growing. Those who today were in the auditorium, they could see how well the students supported one another. They were not interested in winning. They were interested in presenting something they had worked on for almost two weeks. No one felt like they had lost. We are here in order to bring forth new thoughts and ideas, not in order for someone to get an A and someone else a B.
What will happen with the projects presented at this Summer Campus and at previous ones?
We are saving all of them, both videos and presentations. We now are discussing if it is possible, if it is worth it to make a large website, where it would be possible to see them. I am not sure that they will be implemented, indeed we here at Summer Campus do not engage in start-ups in the literal sense. At the Campus before last, which was entitled “University of the Future”, for example, it was clear that the participants would not immediately build a university. Intellectual genetics, which were developed here, will become some sort of code from which other products will emerge. They key thing here was networking, the participants traveled together, visited one another or studied together, and someone is even planning a business. This concerns not only students, but also the adult participants. For example, two moderators from last year from Lebanon together with one of the tutors prepared a large project and submitted it as an application to the UN. There is a connection between the projects and future implementation, but not in a literal sense.
What distinguished Summer Campus 2016 from the others?
For five years, it seems to me, there was a portrait of the student who came to Summer Campus. This was a person for whom nothing is enough, who is hungry for new things: conversation, knowledge. This is a climber in the good sense, who sees their own intellectual, spiritual growth. It was never the goal for us to bring as many participants as we could, we are interested in a certain type of student. On the other hand, all of us, both tutors and moderators, thought that this year the group was stronger. How did this happen? At the previous Campus two or three days went by before they became a team, and this year they worked together already on the first evening, this was something completely new for us. Why does this matter? I cannot precisely say – motivation, preparedness – but this was quite clear.
The level of English was much higher. Two years ago many experienced difficulties, foreign students were the minority in the group, and the Russian participants grew tired of conversing with them in English. Many had problems understanding the lectures and we were forced to invite translators. This year we did not translate lectures even once, in the groups the participants spoke with one another in English with ease and no one even tried to raise this issue. The level of students notably rose: whether the participants really changed, whether we were able to pick the very best – but my general impression is that it was precisely so.