Innovative Applied Social Psychology Master’s Programme Will Prepare Graduates to Compete on the Russian, Dutch, and Global Labour Markets
A new master’s programme in Applied Social Psychology is set to launch at the HSE in 2014.
Nadezhda Lebedeva, Head of the programme, and Marcel Zeelenberg, Professor of Economic Psychology, and Academic Director of Tilburg Institute for Behavioral Economics Research, took turns telling us about its specifics.
— Who are potential students for the new programme?
Nadezhda Lebedeva (NL): The programme is aimed at graduates who are keen to acquire knowledge in social psychology, particularly in aspects such as cross-cultural psychology, and economic and organizational psychology. This means that we are looking for those ambitious students who are interested in learning how individuals function in society, how individuals and groups interact, and how culture influences human interaction and worldviews. We also welcome those who want to know how individuals make economic decisions, how to promote products in markets with various cultural backgrounds, how to build relations in teams, and what leadership strategies will be effective in certain contexts. Our students are expected to have sufficient English skills for reading professional literature and discussing professional topics with their lecturers and classmates. Our students are motivated to develop themselves, keen to learn and comprehend, prepared to discuss their ideas with others, and open to different opinions and cultures.
— What are the programme’s advantages?
NL: We offer the opportunity to study at two top universities—the HSE (Moscow, Russia) and Tilburg University (Tilburg, Netherlands) — and to earn two highly valued diplomas, which will increase our graduates’ competitiveness in the Russian and Dutch labour markets and across the world.
Our students can choose an individual learning pathway, combining a major in Social Psychology with minors in Management, Asian studies, Sociology, Economics or other fields. They will develop professionally in different areas of social psychology: economic psychology, cross-cultural psychology, and work and organizational psychology.
World-renowned scholars in the field of social psychology are involved in teaching at the HSE (Sh. Schwartz, J. Berry, N. Lebedeva, and S. Breugelmans) and Tilburg University (F. van de Vijver, M. Zeelenberg, I. van Beest, and others).
We have developed an original educational programme that is based on the experience of leading universities (London School of Economics, Sussex University, Kent University, Colorado State University, University of Windsor, etc), and contains courses that have never been taught before at Russian universities, eg Social Influence, Methodology of Cross-cultural Research, Leadership and Organization, and others.
— How difficult do you think the new programme will be for students?
NL: Of course, the students will have to be highly involved and motivated. If they are smart, have good English skills, and are willing to work hard, they shouldn’t have any problems. Of course, it will be easier for those who already have a bachelor’s degree in psychology, but since we are offering a block of adaptive disciplines, even a lack of basic psychological education won’t impede students from getting a good grasp on the rest of the programme’s courses.
— Is this programme in line with the requirements of modern social and economic psychology?
We have developed an original educational programme that is based on the experience of leading universities and contains courses that have never been taught before at Russian universities.
NL: The programme has been developed on the basis of programmes in social psychology offered by the best global universities. In these terms, it fully complies with international standards of professional education in this field. All of the programme’s lecturers are active researchers, and many of them publish their findings in leading international journals. We can confidently assert that the students will learn from people who are directly familiar with the latest trends in this area of psychology. In addition, we regularly invite leading researchers in social psychology to read lectures and conduct master classes for our students. For example, we have welcomed Professor Icek Ajzen, who is mentioned in every classic textbook on social psychology. Professor John Berry, the author of the acculturation theory, who previously taught a lecture course here, is becoming a permanent lecturer in this programme starting this year. And, Shalom Schwartz, the author of the basic values theory, shares his theory with students as part of the course on cross-cultural psychology.
That’s why we can confidently say that the education that will be offered to the students is going to comply with the highest standards. We can also definitely say that no other programme exists in Russia that could offer the same high level of master’s training in social, cross-cultural, and economic psychology.
— What career opportunities will the graduates have?
NL: The programme is research-oriented, so the graduates will have all the necessary qualifications to continue their education in the HSE academic postgraduate (aspirantura) programme, or any other university PhD programme in the world. But we also offer a sufficient number of applied courses. The whole block of organizational and economic psychology, whether the students are continuing their education in Tilburg or at the HSE, is closely connected to work practice. We have attracted brilliant professionals, who can—through their teaching—share their experiences coaching, doing organizational consulting, etc, with the students. Tilburg University is also aimed at training professionals who will be able to work in companies (personnel education and development), or consulting and analytical agencies right after graduation. The graduates will be trained in social and cross-cultural psychology, which means they will be able to work in the public sector (developing, evaluating, and implementing social programmes related to intercultural communication, anti-extremism, etc). And finally, combining cross-cultural and organizational psychology with education in an English-speaking environment will make our graduates specialists in cross-cultural management, who are highly valued on the labour market.
Marcel Zeelenberg (MZ): I see many challenging opportunities in our collaboration. The Tilburg University Social Psychology Department focuses strongly on applying fundamental social psychological theories and findings to the fields of economics and business. The field of economic psychology was partly founded in Tilburg by Professor Gery van Veldhoven in 1972 (he also started the IAREP-International Association for Research in Economic Psychology). This focus on economic behavior also led to the start of TIBER (the Tilburg Institute for Behavioral Economics Research) in 2007. This is a great opportunity to work with a group of HSE scientists that is interested in studying questions concerning economic and business psychology from a cultural and cross-cultural perspective.
— Cross-cultural psychology is very important in a very fast-changing, modern world. How are you going to present it in the new programme?
MZ: Cross-cultural psychology is very important, indeed, and has been an important topic at both the HSE and Tilburg University for many years. Students in this programme receive ample training in cross-cultural psychology at the HSE and can also incorporate a cross-cultural perspective in their research for their final thesis at Tilburg University. We have a large number of highly qualified staff members who have published internationally about cross-cultural research and how to do cross-cultural research. The collaboration with the HSE opens up a whole new area of cross-cultural research, and we look forward to incorporating that in our research and teaching.
— What would you name as a highlight of the new programme?
MZ: To my best knowledge, this programme is unique in that a Russian university and a Western European university are joining forces to provide students from both countries, as well as from other countries, with opportunities to develop themselves not only as broad and theoretically sound social psychologists, but also as experiential experts in Eastern and Western European cultures. Excellent teachers with a track record of international research do the teaching in both Moscow and Tilburg. I think that this programme provides students with a window of opportunity to enter a new cultural arena, well prepared.
— Have you been to Moscow, and, if yes, what were your impressions?
MZ: I have visited Moscow three times, at various times of the year (though not yet during the winter). I found it to be an exciting and beautiful city that has preserved its historical sites and is very accessible for visitors from abroad. I hope to come back soon.
Additional programme information:
The programme will start in September 2014. As with other HSE master’s programmes, applications will be accepted from June 3 to July 15, 2014. The first enrolment will include 15 state-financed places.
For students from the Netherlands, the programme offers considerable discounts for tuition (we also hope that five students will get full scholarships), and for the second year of study, at Tilburg University, our Dutch colleagues will offer a unique discount of EUR 9,000 to the five best students (as a result, the students will pay only EUR 4,000, which is even less than the cost of one year of study at the HSE Faculty of Psychology). And this amount can be covered by an HSE grant or a student loan.
Head of the programme: Nadezhda Lebedeva, Professor at the Faculty of Psychology,
and Head of the International laboratory for Socio-Cultural Research
Nadezhda Lebedeva will read the compulsory course Cross-Cultural Psychology for first-year students. Within this course, Shalom Schwartz will read several lectures on values, John Berry will speak on the acculturation of migrants, and Seger Breugelmans of Tilburg University will lecture on culture and emotions.