RSU Research Week 2019: close-up of researcher Māris Andžāns
In preparation for Rīga Stradiņš University (RSU) Research Week, which will be held in April 2019, our researchers answer three short questions which provide insight into their achievements as well as their current research interests. We invite you to mark your calendars and save the dates of 1 — 5 April so you can be part of the major RSU research event!
Assistant Professor of the Department of Political Science, Māris Andžāns has had close ties with RSU for 16 years now. Back then, RSU was the only university in Latvia that offered an international relations study programme, and so he settled down to completing his Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctoral studies here at RSU. Since 2016 he has been in charge of young political scientists and has been heading one of the eight RSU doctoral study programmes.
Assistant Professor Andžāns is looking at the interdisciplinary conference PLACES – the RSU social sciences event of the year – with high expectations, considering its international scale and ambition to focus on each of our university's social science fields in detail.
Why am I involved in research?
It seems logical that I ended up at RSU. At school I was fascinated by geography, history, foreign languages and politics, especially international politics. Sixteen years ago RSU was the only university in Latvia that offered the opportunity to acquire a Bachelor's degree in international relations and European studies. During these years the university has maintained and strengthened its competitive position – we have specialised highly in international relations, which is evident in the significant role taken by RSU teaching staff in foreign affairs research and debates in Latvia. During my studies, I managed to prove myself while working in public administration, as I had to deal with a series of challenges. However, at one point I felt I needed a change. The acquired doctoral degree opened up academic opportunities. Therefore, I joined both RSU and the Latvian Institute of International Affairs. What I like about research are the discussions with colleagues, drafting of publications, conferences and the fact that because of the media commentary, the publication conclusions don't just remain sitting on the shelf but also reach a wider audience, thus shaping public opinion.
Why do I plan to attend PLACES, the RSU interdisciplinary conference on social sciences?
My role in PLACES, as head of the doctoral study programme, will mostly involve mobilising PhD students in political science to participate. When writing a PhD thesis, discussions with colleagues bring new insights and help to improve results. I learned this when I was a PhD student myself, and I hope that our current PhD students will see this for themselves. There has been a steady influx of students at the university over the past few years, which has now stabilised. Almost all our PhD students work in international relations. They research Central Asia, the Middle East, Russia, Poland and cooperation between the Baltic countries, as well as the public diplomacy and defence policies of Latvia. One PhD student is also analysing the healthcare policy of Latvia, thus bridging political science with healthcare.
Why should you attend the conference?
I think that every researcher and PhD student needs this event to receive constructive comments that could improve their work and prevent potential criticism in the future. When writing my publications, I always ask my colleagues to review them. As a result, I get ideas and comments on improvements that may be required. For PhD students, participation in conferences and scientific activities are a calculated way of gaining credit points. It's also important that teaching staff maintain and update their scientific knowledge and discuss ideas. It's praiseworthy that this conference has been raised to be at the international level. Furthermore, it's entirely dedicated to social sciences. I already sense the desire of colleagues to participate is greater than in previous years.