The purpose of the conference has been to stimulate the expansion of research on the significance of interprofessional and interdisciplinary relations as not merely episodic and case-specific, but as pervasive and fundamental to understanding the history of professional and scientific work and disciplinary formation in Russia and elsewhere. Our ambition has been to establish crucial insights through collective, comparative discussion across very different areas of Russian history as well as beyond the Russianist field itself. Our specific objectives were as follows:
1. To bring together a wide range of pertinent case studies with the aim of articulating general and comparative conclusions about the dynamics and significance of interprofessional and interdisciplinary relations in Russian history.
2. To show in what way Russian case studies can inform broader comparative and theoretical discussion of these issues.
3. To provide leadership and set the agenda for the future development of this research topic through an anticipated expansion of the network, especially among younger researchers.
4. To stimulate those working on different topics in Russian history and the international history of professions and sciences who have not previously considered the role and significance of interprofessional and interdisciplinary relations to re-examine their cases in this new light.
5. To rethink and thereby impact on not only the history of Russian sciences and professions narrowly conceived, but the history of modern Russia more generally.
6. To establish lasting links around these issues between Russianists and historians and sociologists working on related problems with a focus on other areas.
The most direct beneficiaries of this event are scholars and research students in the field of Russian history of the 19th and 20th centuries. The conference was, however, expressly designed to have a broad appeal in this context, by no means limited to the history of science and academia or the history of individual professional groups. Given that the conference addresses the problem of expert knowledge and professional practice in a wide range of different areas of social life (each of which was represented by a case study) the conference was of interest to a broad constituency of scholars and students in Russian history broadly conceived, including anyone interested in topics such as the history of healthcare and medicine, law, social care, education and child welfare, the environment, geography, local heritage, humanities academia, and so forth.
An important dimension of this project is also the establishment of lasting collaborative links with scholars working on problems of interdisciplinarity and interprofessional interaction outside our immediate Russianist community by consistently referring to, taking advantage of, as well as contributing to an interdisciplinary corpus of literature on the issues at hand. The interdisciplinary engagements of our conference – our own search for a common conceptual framework and contextual parameters – will inevitably reflect some of the issues that we will be exploring in our empirical case studies.