Symposium The Paths of Russia


History and Meaning

The symposium “Paths of Russia” is an annual conference organized by the Intercenter and the Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences and is devoted to an interdisciplinary understanding of Russian history in the context of time. Both the inspiration and thorough organization of the conference are accredited to the academicians T.I. Zaslavskaya and Professor Theodor Shanin. The first conference was first held in 1994 and, in the past 19 years since then, has been held annually. Since 1997 it has been offered thanks to the support of the MacArthur Foundation. The 20th anniversary symposium is scheduled to take place in 2013.

The symposium provides an intellectual platform on which scientists from Russia, the CIS countries, and also foreign scientists, all of which specialize in Russian studies, can discuss a whole range of problems concerning the transformations in and developmental direction of contemporary Russian society.

Since its first appearance, the symposium has undergone several title changes to reflect the changing character of the intellectual and social dynamics of Russian society. For ten years after first appearing the symposium was held under the general title “What is Russia Heading Towards?”. Each symposium has had a subtitle which underlines the conference’s specific focus on the more urgent problems of the given time in which it is held. The 10th symposium became a turning point; on the one hand, it summed up the results of a decade of social reforms and, on the other, it represented an attempt to sum up the intellectual developments of the post-Soviet social sciences in the context of Russia’s transformational processes. It is no coincidence that its title was changed to “Where Has Russia Come? Results of Social Transformation”.

The undoubted demand for a symposium as a venue for annual meetings which accommodates an exchange of opinions over a wide range of Russian, in particular local, and foreign experts in the field of social sciences, and also as an intellectual platform on which theoretical innovations and results of empirical research on the most critical issues of Russia’s modern development are checked by means of "publicity", became the main incentive motives for organizers to continue holding symposia. Since 2004 it is has been titled "Paths of Russia"

During the 19 years of its existence, the symposium "Paths of Russia" has proved to be both efficient and in high demand. Every year it is visited by more than 400 scientists not only from all corners of Russia, but also by many foreigners. The symposium has become a "brand"- the trademark of the Moscow School and a large and expected event in the scientific community.

Structure of Symposium

Although thematic focus of the symposium changes annually, its structure has remained stable. Two plenary sessions, including opening and closing, and sectional meetings are offered in each symposium. During plenary sessions leading Russian and foreign scientists address the main problem of the symposium from an interdisciplinary and general world-view standpoint and establish an agenda for subsequent discussion. Later follows section work which, in its entirety, last one day. As a rule, five sections work within each symposium in different disciplinary areas – sociology, culturology, political science, economy, history and others. In these sections a more detailed discussion of the set subjects is carried out. At a closing plenary session the results of the section work are summed up.

This organizational structure of the symposium has proved its undoubted efficiency by helping to not only ensure complexity of a set view on the problem, but also by allowing different generations and groups of scientists to take part in scientific discussion. One of the undoubted advantages of the symposium “Paths of Russia" is that a large number of young social scientists take an active role in it. Thanks to section work it is possible to involve newly made experts and even students, who otherwise wouldn't have a chance to express their opinion, in professional discussions. This undoubtedly increases the quality of discussion, strengthens interdisciplinary communications, and also allows for an intermingling of generations within the professional community.

According to the results of the symposium an annual issue of articles is published annually. Over the last 2 years it has been published by NLO.