On Friday, April 10th 2020 an ambitious conference Student Gaidar occurred for the second time
The Conference was well prepared, so there were no likely grounds for concern though the decision of bringing it on-line came hard.
It is difficult to put our worries into words. We kept in touch until late on Friday making calls, sending messages, communicating with the organizers and IT department as we were pretty worried.
We have already had a good experience with Zoom, conducting our classes in it but so far we have had problems like somebody could not hear or has forgotten to invite etc. That time, just imagine, there were 7 sessions ( 3 simultaneous) including 5 panel discussions and 2 round tables and we were not sure that it would go smoothly in technical terms or a glitch might happen as it is a popular international platform and it was a working day.
It was for sure a crucial day when we made a decision not to drop the idea and launch the Conference on-line. Having adjusted we got down to business. Surprisingly enough, but now one may say that everything has passed successfully, moreover it was on the high level. If only we had known what we were into and could foresee how much effort and time it would take to go through all the details, let alone, the technical maintenance meetings! The feedback came unexpectedly, and I’m sorry to say it in so many words, it was glowing, moreover, it came from those who have been running on –line conferencing non-stop! Such fully on-line held events are assumed to be ambitious in business terms. Experts had never participated in events like those! Nobody had organized such conferences! Of course, we take this praise with pleasure! Neither the Internet, nor Zoom failed; neither the recording got interrupted, nor anybody forgot anything, all were organized, especially our remarkable students.
There was a special speaker Vladimir Aleksandrovich Mau, the Rector of RANEPA. Everyone is scattered across cities and territories and he also has a lot of things to do, giving endless interviews, but nevertheless he found time to come to the Kick Off Meeting to welcome everyone and give his forecast for the future. It was surely essential for both the students and our dear experts that are representatives of various academic and scientific institutions ( i.e. MGIMO, MSU , Higher School of Economics, UC Davis, RAS), different academic programs of the Academy( Digital Specialists Centre, EPEI ) and outside research centers and foundations (Carnegie Moscow Centre, WWF), social movements and agencies ( Green Universities of Russia, ECA movement, RedMe agency), business representatives, IBS professors. They made much effort and spent their free time altruistically working with students for the educational reasons solely, so it was important for them and the Rector’s presence and speech showed that it was appreciated. This is very, very important. Vladimir Aleksandrovich, thank you very much.
The speech of Vice-Rector S.P. Myasoedov, our Sergey Pavlovich, his presence and acknowledgement was also very important and necessary. He was not a special speaker as it was an event organized by his Institute. He was a speaker at the Education session.
His friend, Timothy Mescon, also was a speaker at that session. He is Vice-President of AACSB and he supported us very much having agreed to take part (for those who don’t know IBS RANEPA is the only of business schools so far that has received this honorable accreditation). He would have arrived if the cards had been dealt the other way. We thank him as well.
In the long run, all seem to be happy.
Organizers are happy as they did the task that they had to do. When you do the task that you have set, you gain power and tiredness turns into enthusiasm and desire to work further. The task has been done for may be not 200 % but almost 100%. There could have been more interviews taken, social networks should have performed better. One should have organized infor- seminars on the topics. However, the pandemic interfered with it of course, but on the whole the organizers were happy as the task was fulfilled.
The students were happy as they scaled significant research, presentation and discussion heights - they have raised their self esteem. They revealed something that they had been unaware before. First of all they got interested. The topics were reviewed and changed very often as it was necessary to be on top of the current international agenda concerning the climate change, the pandemic that interfered with the processes of the world population. At first students got annoyed but then they realized that they were involved as by doing research you get to understand the topic better. There were a lot of enthusiasts. Many had to share a topic with two or three students. Initially that caused some embarrassment and misunderstanding- “ I want to do it myself”, “This is my topic”, then it turned out that team work meant to come up with an idea together so that everyone could give his speech, nobody could get offended while keeping tight time limit! In the long run, we exceeded the schedule a little but not because we didn’t manage to do something but because we wanted to communicate more after the end of the official session. At usual off-line conferences, workshops, forums this communication is transferred into chat rooms, or as a popular phrase goes ‘to the margins of the conference’ where one can talk, meet and sometimes reach agreements that hadn’t been reached by diplomats and mediators. The margins of our conference meant time after the end of the official session.
Students were really interested in what they were doing. One must say that the requirements differed from those of the academic room and even from those of a term or qualification work. They got acquainted with a somewhat fresh approach to the scientific work, they have opened new horizons, they learned about new social and scientific organizations dealing with various problems and the most important is that they could see themselves from outside. There were very many people in the virtual hall ( The Conference Hall or The Green Hall and other rooms of the 5th building could not house that audience, the overall number of participants went almost over 800 ) They were asked questions with no allowance. At some sessions experts gave caustic comments and asked students quite unexpected and fairly difficult questions that they had to answer in real time instantly. However speakers could face the challenge, they took their time in a good sense until they shaped up an answer and idea in their head. Moreover, they spoke English very well. Their eyes were shining!
Moderators were also satisfied. It so happened that only one of our professors (A.V. Boldyreva) was a moderator at one session who coped with her mission perfectly. The majority of moderators who instructed students were invited from other departments. They surprisingly found the IBS students to be well prepared, very inquisitive, interested in many fields and being able to work under external guidance and online, and, moreover, within tight schedule to do the tasks set and find decisions. Our students showed themselves as people able to start thinking. Even if usually they can do any presentation without going into detail, just writing and talking out, this time they had to generate ideas, find their approach. A moderator could reject that presentation with such wording! There were different working moments, i.e. misunderstanding but moderators also showed their ability to convince and settle arguments instead of being led. They claimed their authority which is easier said than done as neither you nor the students you work with have ever seen each other! It’s hard to work when you know a person for a short time through the computer screen only. They did it though!
Experts were also happy (judging by their references: at night after the Conference in FM and other social networks I kept reading their posts and comments). Experts were very glad that they had come; at first they had doubts but further it turned out that what they were speaking about was in demand. It happened to be interesting.
e.g. A remarkable lecture was given by Irina Delyusina, a climatologist, a person who specializes in the Climate physics. One should definitely have an educational zeal to go on-line at 3 a.m. Pasific time from the University of California, so that in far away Moscow people could listen to a complicated lecture on the Physics of Global warming. It is important for her that students can have a chance to have this lecture again (we promised Irina to place it on student- gaidar.ru) so that they could understand it because they had to take decisions in this area.
An amazing speaker, Director of the Green Economics Department of the WWF, Mikhail Babenko opened before our students a great prospect of Green Economics projects. One can learn how working further in companies lead them to the highest ranking of business decarbonization. etc.
There was a unique mini-lecture by Elena Vladimirovna Novikova, Doctor of Law, Head of Ecological and Integrational Law Department at the MSU Law Faculty. Within 15 minutes she perfectly managed to brief on the Economic Law of the EU and its agenda, prevailing concepts and in what direction Russia should follow. There are a lot of such examples.
Our graduate, IBS professor E. Martirosyan joined the Business session from Austria. What a battle it was, though everything looked calm, what work of thought it was!
A. Sh. Shakhbazov and A.V. Zyrianova worked as experts (they both were with us last year). Anna Vladimirovna says that the session was on the level.
Another our graduate, the latest one, Temur Umarov not only became a moderator but also brought to the session 5 experts on China. That session looked like a real scientific workshop, all speakers had a virtual background with the Conference banner, all presentations were impeccably prepared with logos of the Conference, the pace was slow, and thoughtful, pleasant to look at and listen to!
Check student-gaidar.ru portal! You will find published references, photos, videos of all sessions, all experts’ lectures presentations and of cause the best speakers will be announced.
Soon all participants (speakers) can get an on-line certificate.
Thank you all for the interest to our Annual Academic Students Conference – Student Gaidar. Look forward to seeing you next year and wish you successfully pass exams in our hard times. Anyway as a poet said, “Your epoch is not for trying. It's for living…” (Q)