Staying with Mikko & Hanna now and while Mikko left for work, Veikko for school and Anna & Liisa were taken to the kindergarden I crossed Senatintori and took a look on Estonian flagship Admiral Pitka. It is the Estonian president Toomas Hendrik Ilves (THI or Lynx) on the official state visit in Finland now, and he crossed the gulf with the ship. Two days ago he had a very colourful speech in the aula of my present alma mater (shall add it to the comments of this message).
But it is not so much the THI speech I want to speak about, but the university life in Helsinki, although also Lynx referred about the importance of universitas helsingensis in the cultural life of Estonians and universitas tartuensis in the cultural life of Finns. So, what is so special about the university life in Helsinki, the capital of Finland?
The same as in Riga or Vilnius the main building (Päärakennus) of the University of Helsinki is right in the heart of the city. Also the library is nearby as well as all the governmental institutions. However, the difference is the inter-connectedness of the main building. It means that from the main building you can get into the library, cafes, computer centre, canteen, bookstore and finally metro station without getting out of the building. Indeeed, there are dormatory campuses all over the city as well as the hard science campus, but as much social sciences are concerned the central position matters, because it is very handy also for government officials to attend visiting scholars presentations. For example, yesterday within collegioum helsingensis alumni days framework Jim Mittelman from the American University in the Washington D.C. gave a rich presentation `Changing Basis of World Conflict`. Being IPE scholar he was worried about the health of global economy (FYI the American housing market is about to burst and it most definitely should bring ripples in most affected housing markets in Europe - Latvia, Estonia, Denmark...) and predicted basic three scenarious for the future - neo-global, after-global and non-global syndromes. In any case the future does not seem rosy, and at the end of the first decade of the 21´st century we are facing a replica of the early 20´th. I am not going to meddle into more detail here and if you want to elaborate more on Mr Mittelman´s work you are welcome to search for it in the world wide web.
But now I want to finish with the university education in the capital city, because I have to turn to the scientific article due this Sunday. University needs to have students from all walks of life and all faculties together too have a feeling of universitas. I do not have such a feeling in the air as it is in traditional university towns of Tartu, Boston, Cambridge or Uppsala. But there is a feeling of forceful student body in Helsinki and not in Riga, Tallinn or Vilnius. Reasons?
Buildings are dispersed all around the town, lecturers are underpaid and busy, and finally students are growing estranged. It is this atomisation of socity what also Robert Putnam was worried about in his "Bowling alone in America" that we see in Riga, Talllinn and Vilnius and not in social democratic Helsinki. How long the business as usual shall continue in Riga I do not know, but there are winds of change in the air. Spring has brought first swallows already, and perhaps there will be also a bigger game coming?