MCU’s Strategic Development Project

Project cluster: Projects for the citizens

Term: 2020 – 2025

Project manager: Svetlana Vachkova

Project team: Elena Ivanova, Irina Vinogradova, Ekaterina Barsukova, Igor Shiyan, Anna Yakshina, Tatyana Le-van, Gurgen Akopyan, Sergey Vesmanov, Dmitry Vesmanov, Natalia Zhad’ko, Elena Nekhorosheva, Elena Alekseicheva, Tatyana Apostolova

To develop a system that enables consistent design and delivery of research projects concerning the issues of analyzing and developing the urban humanitarian infrastructures, communities and socio-cultural practices in Moscow.

Project objective

Project Background

The growing importance of cities is not only the result of increasing urbanization, but also of rethinking the role and position of cities. Today cities become not just a place for living, but a way of thinking and living. Currently, more than 50% of the world’s population lives in the cities, while in the year 1800 only 3% of the population were urbanized. Many researchers argue that an urbanized world is one of the future trends.

Moscow consists of communities. These communities may be different, authentic, self-identifying, but all of them perceive themselves as a part of the city. It is the communities that contribute to the Moscow’s development by becoming involved in the urban strategy and evolvement of a globalized city.

The Moscow’s strategic program “My district” is based on the idea of “a city as a community of citizens”. The program engages citizens in defining top priorities and tasks for their districts to ensure consistent development of the local districts and communities. Such fundamental reinterpretation of strategic development requires launching systematic work on monitoring and analyzing the local communities, and creating projects for the social sector based on the research findings.

The key challenge is the necessity for systemic research of a wide range of social and cultural aspects of the life of citizens. The inclusion of universities in such project-based research work becomes a tool for the development of a globalized city. The subject of such research may include: urban spaces and identity, deficits and discontents of the urban communities, learning resources and opportunities for the citizens, continuing and non-formal education, providing training for urban services and organizations, and many other vectors.

The systemic work with these needs enables not only pursuing research, but also working out better solutions for the municipal organizations, determining strategic directions of the city’s development. City universities play a key role in the research and development of the intellectual, cultural and political aspects of the city.

Existing Groundworks

MCU has been deeply integrated into the city’s learning and socio-cultural spaces since its foundation. One of the key directions of further integration is pursuing research for the benefit of the city. In the last few years the urban research has emerged as an independent direction of the MCU’s research. During this period MCU’s research teams have conducted several dozens of research projects on different aspects of urban life. The most significant research topics include urban spaces and identity, cultural code and generation gap, urban communities and social networks, as well as new teaching and humanitarian practices of lifelong learning.

The research findings are integrated in the Master’s programs (“Design of Urban Educational Infrastructures”, “Instructional Design and Teaching Reading Programs for Children and Youth”, etc.) and training modules within the Bachelor’s degree programs. The urban research becomes a teaching and a learning format. Since 2019 the humanitarian competencies of MCU students have been developed within various socio-cultural internships connected with the city’s studies.

Since 2018 the seminar “City University” has been bringing together researchers of the urban environment. The research findings are presented at different levels and different venues: scientific conferences, forums, symposiums, mass media, competitions, etc. Another point of growth is developing projects on navigation, redesign, and restructuring of learning infrastructures. In 2019 the project of Participatory Design of children’s public spaces (as in the case of schoolchildren’s play areas) won 5 out of 7 nominations in the Competition of Innovations in Education (СIE).

Another field within the MCU’s activities is participation in the International project “City Transformers”. The key objectives of the project are to develop meaningful solutions and to pursue research in the field of eco-urbanism and sustainable urban development, as well as to elaborate the mechanisms of participatory design. The research findings, obtained during the “City University” seminar have been published in 3 volumes of the conference proceedings “UniverCity: Cities and Universities”, as well as in the leading scientific Russian and international peer-reviewed journals.

MCU participates in the television project “City University”, where experts and leaders of the professional community discuss new teaching and learning practices of the city. Another project is the urban workshop “PLASTIСINE”. The project features writers, artists, politicians, and businessmen who speak on the trends of education and urban development.

Since 2018 MCU has been organizing the International Symposium “Education and City” with Dublin City University (Ireland) and University of Taipei (Taiwan) co-organizing the event. In 2019 the Symposium brought together participants from 17 countries: Russia, Albania (Alexander Moisiu University), Belarus (Francisk Skorina Gomel State University), Hungary, Israel, Italy, Kazakhstan, China (Nankai University), Lithuania, Mongolia (National University of Mongolia), Poland, USA (Sam Houston State University), Sweden (University of Gavle), Ireland (Dublin City University), Taiwan (University of Taipei). The participants of the Symposium also include museum workers (such as the Museum of Entrepreneurs, Patrons and Benefactors), experts from the creative bureau “The Morning” and International Association for the Humanities. During the last four years more than 600 scientists from all over Russia and the world have participated in the Symposium.

Project Design

Urban studies at MCU are pursued in several directions. The first direction comprises forming of issue-related clusters according to the key priorities of the city’s research and project-based agenda. These clusters capture global trends in the development of global cities.

Several clusters are to be formed at the first step:

  • Cluster for urban environment research and participatory design of urban spaces;
  • Cluster for urban well-being studies (UrbanHealth);
  • Cluster of educational consulting for developmental projects;
  • Cluster for studying the metropolis as a global ecosystem.

Each cluster sets up its own research and project-based agenda, which corresponds to the following issues: ensuring comfortable life of citizens, designing new urban spaces and educational infrastructures, using the city’s resources for educational purposes, and other issues concerning the development of the socio-cultural sphere and urban communities.

These clusters combine scientific and educational activities. MCU’s students and doctoral research scholars become members of the research teams, co-designers and participants of the training programs. Different structural divisions of MCU are involved in the work of clusters, contributing to inter-institute integration.

The second direction includes creating audiovisual content. MCU offers a space for collaboration of researchers and experts in the fields of urban studies, education, psychology, and launches a system of urban events in the TED format. The research findings and projects delivered by MCU are presented at different events. Such events are open to all citizens and are aimed to introduce in a popular scientific format the latest research findings and practices of the transformation and development of globalized cities. The speakers featured by TED-talks are MCU’s researchers, students, postgraduates, and lecturers. The meetings and presentations are held online, forming a digital library of mini-lectures, TED talks, MOOCs. The digital library is open to all citizens and becomes an integrative part of the social and cultural assets of Moscow.

The third direction is developing a digital platform for urban researchers. The research findings, projects and solutions are presented interactively both to professional communities and interested citizens. The digital library provides an opportunity to become acquainted with the findings of the latest research, as well as to become a participant and co-designer in the research.

The fourth direction is establishing a system of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC). Such courses include the most significant findings of the MCU’s research, and provide an opportunity to the citizens to become aware of the most relevant trends in the urban and educational development. To develop these courses, MCU engages its leading experts and partners. The courses are delivered in both Russian and English. This system allows promoting the scientific and project-based agenda of Moscow throughout Russia and the world.

Key Performance Indicators

Indicator 2021 2022 2023 2024 2025
The number of studies and projects on urban topics (with an increasing total), units 5 7 9 11 14
The number of users registered on the digital platform of urban research (with an increasing total), users 300 700 1 000 1 500 3 000
The number of units of audiovisual content (with an increasing total) 25 28 30 32 35
The number of students and doctoral research scholars, involved in the clusters’ activities, No of people 125 200 250 350 450
The number of open access TED lectures featuring MCU’s staff with at least 500 views, units (with an increasing total) 5 10 20 35 50