MGIMO and US Georgia Tech: Two Years of Collaboration

MGIMO and US Georgia Tech: Two Years of Collaboration

27 October 2021

The MGIMO School of Government and International Affairs and the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs at Georgia Tech conducted two full-fledged training courses for students from seven countries and a series of academic seminars, as well as published a special issue of the International Trends journal in two languages.

The cooperation with Georgia Tech University in the education and research was initiated by Andrey Baykov, Vice-Rector for Science and Research, Dean of the School of International Relations, in 2016. He formulated the concept of the project and took an active part in the implementation of its educational and reserach components, including as editor-in-chief of the International Trends journal – the first Russian scientific publication in the field of political science and international relations, according to the Scimago Journal Ranking.

The now completed phase of the Russian-American project was implemented in accordance with the University order issued in December 2019. The project was designed to study foreign policy resources, forms and methods of implementation of foreign policy by states. In English, this concept is described by the term statecraft. The research objectives of the program were to find out what factors determine the choice of foreign policy tools and methods by States for given goals, as well as to assess to what extent this choice affects the effectiveness of achieving the goals set. In addition, the joint project was aimed at developing the Russian-language discourse on statecraft, creating contexts for the use of this concept in the Russian academic writing and identifying patterns of its interaction with other categories of the international relations studies.

The central aspect of cooperation between MGIMO and the Sam Nunn School for five years has been the joint teaching of innovative academic disciplines to students from Russia, the USA and other countries of the world. Current trends in the evolution of foreign policy resources and tools of states were analyzed by leading Russian and international experts in two training courses conducted online in the spring semesters of last year and this year. MGIMO students from Russia, Kazakhstan, the USA and France, as well as students from Nizhny Novgorod University, the Free University of Berlin, the University of Sciences Po, the University of Geneva, Nazarbayev University, the University of Technology in Monterrey (Mexico), the International University of Karlsruhe (Germany), American University (Washington), George Washington University, A&M University, Bowdoin College (all – USA) met the academic requirements and received credit for the courses.

The project was supported by the MGIMO Endowment. The project was co-led by Mikhail Troitsky, Dean of the School of Government and International Affairs, on the Russian side, and Adam Stalberg, Dean of the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs, on the American side. The coordinator of the project at MGIMO was Maria Shibkova, Associate Professor of the Department of Romance Languages. Together with Jenna Jordan, Associate professor at the Sam Nunn School, Mikhail Troitsky and Adam Stalberg became guest editors of a special issue of International Trends. In the articles of the special issue, prepared by a team of authors from Russia, the USA, Italy and the UK, quantitative methods and big data analysis are widely used. At the initiative of Andrey Baykov, the issue of the journal was published in two languages - English and Russian. This allowed us to correlate the term statecraft, popular in the English-language literature on international relations, with conventional concepts of studies published in Russian, and enrich the agenda of these studies with new meanings.

Mikhail Troitsky, Adam Stalberg and Jenna Jordan, the authors of the introductory article of the special issue of the journal introduce the reader to the problems of resource provision of foreign policy and describe a kind of ‘security dilemma’ that arises when choosing between the immediate use of newly invented technology for military purposes, on the one hand, and refraining from an arms race and escalation of existing conflicts, on the other. The authors also analyze the advantages and disadvantages of the policy of strengthening national identity as a foreign policy resource.

In his research, Igor Istomin, Associate Professor of the Department of Applied Analysis of International Problems, shows how a great power can use alliances as a tool for uniting small neighboring states to garner support for its diplomatic initiatives, limit the capabilities of rival powers and ensure internal stability in the nearby geographical region. Sergey Golunov, leading researcher at IMEMO RAS, analyzing access to oil and natural gas resources as a goal and means of influence in world politics, concludes that radical foreign policy instruments — for example, invasion and seizure of control over producing countries or entire regions —  have rarely been used in international relations and have almost never been effective.

Adam Stalberg and Jonathan Darcy, graduate student at the Georgia Institute of Technology (USA), study the American and Russian approaches to sanctions using extensive empirical material. The authors posit that Russia and the United States radically differ in their assessments of the significance, goals and legitimacy of the sanctions policy. This leads to underestimating the risks of a sudden escalation of conflicts between the two countries amid growing sanctions contradictions. In her turn, Camilla Pagani, lecturer at Bocconi University (Milan), believes that it is difficult for states to resist the temptation to use such global trends as increasing migration as a foreign policy resource. Being by nature a transnational phenomenon, migration does not fit into the concept of statecraft, understood as a set of forms of purposeful activity of states in the international arena.

Drawing on a rich tradition of identity studies, Anne Vigneault, Associate Professor of the Department of Applied Analysis of International Problems, and Francoise Le Saux, Honorary Professor at the University of Reading (UK), examine the possibilities of using language policy as a foreign policy resource. Finally, Maria Shibkova offers a noteworthy view on the role of tradition and self-identification in the choice of forms and methods of foreign policy conduct. Using the example of Italy, she shows how international structural factors and typical domestic political layouts, complemented by a national style of negotiation, form a unique foreign policy tradition of a medium-sized power.

The publication of the articles was preceded by a series of scientific seminars at MGIMO and at the Sam Nunn School, as well as mutual visits of lecturers of these universities to speak to students in 2019–2021. The discussion on various aspects of the evolution of foreign policy resources in the modern world will continue in International Trends and other scientific publications. Several new articles on this topic are being prepared for publication, studies for which have been carried out using both quantitative (including analysis of “big data”) and qualitative methods.