• A
  • A
  • A
  • ABC
  • ABC
  • ABC
  • А
  • А
  • А
  • А
  • А
Regular version of the site

Writing Centers in Russian Universities

Ashley Squires, Director of Merrill Lynch Writing and Communication Center, tells Victoria Zimina more about Writing Centers as a powerful career boosting tool for undergraduate students. How they work in US, in Russia and in Joint bachelor program in economics

Do you see interest in Writing Centers in Russia?

There are a couple of different ways to answer this question. One would be that the students in the Joint program seem to be embracing the Writing Center. For context: for a comparable writing center in the United States, so a writing center that serves undergraduate students, one would expect about 20% of the student body to use the writing center. That is how students in a typical American university use the writing center. And in the Joint program, 50% of students, so half, use the writing center. And would I like it if that other half would also use the writing center? Sure. At least, I think that they would be better off if they used the writing center, of course. I have ideas of course for ensuring that people know about us, know what we do and for making us more approachable for students who are afraid or too shy to go to the Writing Center. I am always trying to generate ideas to do our job better. But I would say that compared to the peer institutions in the US, Joint program students use the Writing Center a lot.

Then, there is another way to look at it, which is how are writing centers are developing in Russia. And this is actually a really exciting thing that is going on. So, the Writing and Communication Center that serves the Joint Bachelor’s program was the first writing center in Russia. The same year an academic writing and communication center was established at HSE, but it only serves faculty members of the HSE. And now there are 14 writing centers in Russia. It is a model that is growing and spreading. What interesting is that like HSE, most of these writing centers serve faculty members. Right now, the Writing and Communication Center is the only writing center in Russia that primarily serves students. We do work with staff and faculty from time to time, but the work we do with them is somewhat different. And a lot of this is because different universities around Russia are confronting different challenges.  Most faculty members have a lot of pressure to publish in English, and they need help with doing that. Whereas most of our faculty members at NES have western degrees already, so they all are already very well integrated into the international system, and so they do not need someone to teach them how to write economic articles in English, right? And so we work primarily with students, and that is like the traditional, classical model of the writing center, but writing centers for faculty are spreading in Russia.

Do you mean that other writing centers do not have enough resources to be able to serve both faculty members and students?

Well, I think that there are a couple of reasons. One is that the sources of funding for writing centers are primarily taking part in the effort to get faculty to publish more international papers. So, when you have people who fund writing centers, they are thinking about it in terms of, “We want to use this in order to drive our publications.” They are not particularly concerned with writing for students. I think that another part of it comes from the different philosophy about undergraduate teaching. It seems to me that most Russian students do not view the bachelor's degree in the same way. It is more like a box to check on the way to their master’s degree, and most exams are conducted orally rather than in writing.

More about WCC: https://wcc.nes.ru/
Hours of Operation
Shabolovka Campus, room 2311
Tuesdays, 12:00-16:00 / Wednesdays 12:00-17:00 / Thursdays 11:00-16:00 / Fridays 11:00 - 15:00
Skolkovo Campus, room 2.55
Tuesdays 13:00-17:00 / Thursdays 13:00-17:00
Tuesdays 21:00 - 23:00 / Thursdays 21:00 - 23:00 / Fridays 15:00 - 20:00 or by request
Skype consultations are available by appointment only. 

This weekend WCC and HSE AWC jointly host a Summer Writer’s Retreat program to "provide an opportunity for participants to learn about writing for an international audience while making progress on a writing project of their own. The program will include daily seminars, structured time for working on projects, and opportunities to receive feedback from instructors and other participants"
Ashley Squires, PhD, Director of the Writing and Communication Center, New Economic School
Matthew Overstreet, PhD, Assistant Professor, New Economic School 
Svetlana Suchkova, K.N., Director of the Academic Writing Center, Higher School of Economics
Dates: 25-27 August 2018
Cost: 5,000 rub. per participant
Location: 20 Myasnitskaya ulitsa, Moscow
Register to participate https://goo.gl/forms/82VUVgFy7jdtHQ1K2