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Centre for Studies of Civil Society and the Nonprofit Sector National Research University Higher School of Economics (HSE), Moscow, Russia

Director of the Center: Dr. Irina Mersianova 
Research Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Lev Jakobson, Vice President of the National Research University Higher School of Economics (HSE), Moscow, Russia

Prof. Dr. Lev Jakobson and Dr. Irina Mersianova

E-mail: imersianova@hse.ru

Address: office 519, building 20, Myasnitskaya street, Moscow, Russia. 101990

Scientific studying of civil society and nonprofit sector institutes is an important line of research of the contemporary Russian society because the said institutes have become a signal of transformation processes in our country. Specific research trends both fundamental and applied, focused on the range of civil society problems, are forming in the context of different sciences.

The National Research University Higher School of Economics (HSE) has accumulated vast experience in scientific studies on this topic. The Centre for Studies of Civil Society and the Nonprofit Sector, established in January 2009 as a part of the Laboratory for Studies of Civil Society, has played one of major parts in this sphere lately. The Center performs researches covering an extensive range of issues pertaining to the civil society and non-for-profit sector in post-Soviet Russia in the discourse of sociology, economy, law, political studies, statistics and history.

Over these past years, the Centre for Studies of Civil Society and the Nonprofit Sector has gone a long and intensive way institutionalizing itself as a center for scientific researches, expert consultations, awareness raising work, and civil education on the topic of civil society and nonprofit sector.  

Let us highlight some characteristic features of its work:

 ·   Center’s staff implemented various scientific research projects in subject fields of the civil society and nonprofit sector both in the context of fundamental research programs pursued by the National Research University Higher School of Economics (HSE)[1];

·   For the purpose of discussion of research results the Center organized a regular seminar that has become a real platform for scholarly disputes, and sharing of experience and opinions between representatives of the expert community, authorities, nongovernmental organizations, the donor community and other parties concerned;

·   Materials of specific sociological and statistical studies, and statistics delivered by the Center serve as a basis for annual reports of the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation on the civil society situation in our country;

·   Center’s research results have been published in monographs and top scientific magazines, they are discussed at panels, seminars and conferences, and used for educational purposes[2]; 

·   Center’s activities get regular and detailed coverage at the web portal of Higher School of Economics, Center’s website has gone to being an acclaimed information resource for shaping of the professional community of civil society researchers; 

·   The Center takes part in global comparative study projects focused on the civil society and nonprofit sector, the portfolio of its partners includes: Center for Civil Society Studies of the Johns Hopkins Institute for Policy Studies (USA), CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA), International Society for Third Sector Research (ISTR), European Research Network on Philanthropy (ERNOP), International Association for Volunteer Effort (IAVE) and Civil Society Consulting Group (USA); 

·   Center’s staff participates in development and publishing of science magazine “Civil Society in Russia and abroad” from publishing house YURIST. A.S. Tumanova, leading researcher at the Center, is Deputy Chief Editor, I.V. Mersianova has her own column “Empirical Civil Society Studies”. The magazine features the following columns: “Problems of the theory of civil society”, “Views on the civil society in the history and theory of political and legal thought”, “Civil society institutes: historical experience and the current state”, “Empirical Civil Society Studies”, etc., as well as sections with critical reviews and analysis of materials presented during round-table discussions and scientific conferences.

On an annual basis from 15 to 25 students, mostly from the Faculty of Public Administration and Municipal Management, get involved in Center’s activities. Some of them get salaried placement as researchers-trainees. They conduct individual researches on a whole range of civil society topics, civil society-state interaction, on development of a state policy in the sphere of support of civil society institutes. Their research results have been discussed at Center’s scientific seminar and have been used for analytical reports for needs of federal authorities. 

Nearly all research associates of the Center are working with students. The interaction between Center’s scientific staff and students and postgraduates takes various shapes – consultations for research projects, collaboration on research projects, discussion of reports at seminars, participation of students in development of analytical materials, preparation for participation of students in seminars and round-table discussions, technical support of the website, etc.

The center is planning to expand its educational activities by developing and introducing “Management at nonprofit organizations” specialization as a part of its master’s program “Public Administration and Municipal Management”, to promote fundamental studies and to strengthen its leadership in the subject field of civil society and nonprofit sector.

The above-mentioned factors have brought forward the topic of establishment of a Research Laboratory for Interdisciplinary Studies in the Nonprofit Sector, this laboratory being the part of the Centre for Studies of Civil Society and the Nonprofit Sector at the National Research University Higher School of Economics (HSE).

Tasks and objectives of the Laboratory

The key objective of the Laboratory is to promote nonprofit sector studies, introduce the said studies into the educational process, contribute into integration of the professional community of civil society researchers, get it reinforced by young researchers and instructors, as well as to engage the best students in research and educational activities at the National Research University Higher School of Economics (HSE).

For this purpose the Laboratory will focus on fulfillment of the following tasks:

 ·   Fundamental and applied research in the subject field of the nonprofit sector, preparation of offers and participation in implementation of measures for improvement of the system and mechanisms of the nonprofit sector, including those on the basis of domestic and foreign experience;

·   Research and development in the sphere of state support of social initiatives and civil society institutes, roles and functions of different bodies and levels of public administration and municipal management in assistance to functioning of the nonprofit sector;

·   Participation of professors, students and postgraduates of the National Research University Higher School of Economics (HSE) in research work at the Laboratory, and introduction of Laboratory’s research results into the educational process at National Research University Higher School of Economics (HSE);

·   Active introduction of research results into the political decision-making practice and civil society practices;

·   Development of new training programs and the specialization on management at nonprofit organizations at different levels of education (Bachelor’s and Master’s programs), as well as development and implementation of civil education programmes;

·   Assistance to integration of newcomers into the professional community of civil society and nonprofit sector researchers, and into international scientific cooperation. 

One of key areas of Laboratory’s activities will be scientific research and expert consulting. Therefore, the Laboratory is expected to perform expert studies, fundamental and applied researches, including those on requests of state authorities and local government authorities, enterprises and organizations of all forms of ownership, and international organizations, as well as to contribute into establishment of the professional community of civil society researchers and its support.

The second area of interest will be awareness-raising activities, including participation in arrangement and holding of scientific conferences, seminars and discussions; preparation of research materials for publication; public appearances and speeches; issue of field-specific scientific publications; online and mass media distribution of scientific and awareness-raising information about civil society and nonprofit sector practices in order to raise the level of civil competencies in the community, etc.

The third area will be educational activities that provide for development of new training programs in the sphere of management at nonprofit organizations; preparation of monographs, training aids and teacher books, casebooks and case studies on the topics the Center specializes in, as well as organization of publishing of the said materials; involvement of students and postgraduates of the National Research University Higher School of Economics (HSE) on a competitive basis with research activities pursued by the Center and the Laboratory; carrying out of their own research projects under the guidance of laboratory staff, and assistance in arrangement of practical training for students and postgraduates of the National Research University Higher School of Economics (HSE), etc. 

[1] Complex analysis of factors determining the efficiency of cooperation between nonprofit organizations and the state in the delivery of social services (2017), Adjustment of the modern approaches to NGO management and raising the efficiency of the third sector development in Russia (2018), Reserves for sustainable development of nongovernmental nonprofit organizations in the Russian Federation (2019).

[2] List of published works (at random): Toepler S., Jakobson L. I., Mersiyanova I. V. Foundations in Russia: Evolving Approaches to Philanthropy // American Behavioral Scientist. 2018. Vol. 62 . No. 13. P. 1844-1868., Smith D. H., Mersiyanova I. V. Research Note: Testing a Comprehensive Explanation of Informal Volunteering on Russian National Sample Interview Data // Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly. 2018.,  Irina V. Mersianova, Schneider F. A. Russian Faith Matters: Religiosity and Civil Society in the Russian Federation // Sociology of Religion. 2018. Vol. 79. No. 4. P. 495-519., Mersiyanova I. V., Kononykhina O., Sokolowski W., Salamon L. M. Russia: A Classic Statist Model, in: Explaining Civil Society Development: A Social Origins Approach / Рук.: L. M. Salamon. Johns Hopkins University Press, 2017. Ch. 14. P. 223-236.


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