A microcosmos in Karelia
Petrozavodsk State University in Russian region Karelia has good traditions of international exchange. Soon the university will be welcoming NorFA visiting professor dr of political science Lassi Heininen from Lappland University in Sweden. Dr Heininen characterises the region as a microcosmos to study international politics.
Petrozavodsk State University has since the beginning of the 1990s been one of Northwest-Russias most international-focused universities. They have a history of co-operating with universities in Finland, Sweden, Norway and Iceland. Dr Heininen has co-operated with this university since 1990 and has managed a multi-national students group since 2000.
- It is encourageing for the students at Petrozavodsk to see that the Nordic region is interested in them, for instance by granting scholarships like the visiting professor grant NorFA has given me. In ten years the doctoral students of today will be researchers or have other important positions and it is important to establish academic contact between this region and the Nordic countries.
Dr Heininen reports of motivated students at Petrozavodsk:
- The students are genuinely interested and work hard. During my stay, I will be developing a new curriculum for Nordic and European studies. I think I will get useful feedback from the doctoral students.
The curriculum that dr Heininen will help establish will be more horisontally focused than vertically:
- Nordic and European studies are cross-curricular. It is important that the students have a wholistic approach to the field, that comprises political history and environmental politics. The also get a new approach to their own disciplines.
At Petrozavodsk there is at the time no-one who teaches international politics, which is dr Heininens area of focus. The discipline itself has a short history in Russia as a consequence of the situation during the Soviet era. Therefore, dr Heininens stay will be very useful to the students.
- My research is about North-European politics from a wholistic point of view, which includes both Nordic and Russian themes. The Karelian region is interesting geo-politically speaking, as a part of Finland and Russia. During the Soviet era the non-Finnish part of Karelia was closed and faced tensions, whereas it is today an open region that co-operates with the international community. It is a dynamic area, a microcosmos as a starting point to study the world, concludes dr Heininen.