Since mid-March, all of Finland and the University of Helsinki have had to adapt to exceptional circumstances due to the coronavirus pandemic. The University has adjusted its operations to slow down the spread of the epidemic in accordance with government instructions, restrictions and recommendations: contact teaching has been replaced with other forms of teaching, major events open to the public have been cancelled, and most of the staff are telecommuting.
We have now reached a stage in which the temporary restrictions imposed in the exceptional circumstances will gradually begin to be lifted. We can also begin to assess the impact of the crisis on the University’s operations and finances.
“Now is a good time to look ahead to the period following the epidemic. Finnish society will not return to what it was before March. The vital significance of scientific research in resolving the global crisis has recently been much discussed. As a university, we have the opportunity to take a more active role in society by promoting sustained research and a sustainable future and contributing to societal resilience,” says Rector Jari Niemelä.
The University has established a new ideas group to assess the impact of the coronavirus crisis on the University, multidisciplinary research, academic education and the University’s long-term status in society. The group can also submit proposals which the leadership of the University and its faculties can take into consideration when implementing the strategic plan.
“The University recently approved its strategic plan for 2021–2030, based on which units will in spring and autumn 2020 plan measures to be taken to implement the plan. Our vision of ‘With the power of knowledge – for the world’ is more relevant than ever. Now is also a great time to plan our operations based on new ideas that will prepare us for the post-pandemic period,” continues Niemelä.
Composition of the ideas group
The group is chaired by Vice-Rector Tom Böhling, and its members are Professor of Practice Ilmo Aronen, Professor Johanna Björkroth, Professor Anu Kantola, Chief Digital Officer Jaakko Kurhila, Managing Director Sanna Lauslahti, Associate Professor Tuuli Toivonen and a representative to be named by the Student Union. The group’s secretaries will be Helena Holopainen of Research Services and Ira Sirén of Communications and Community Relations.
The group will submit its ideas and proposals to the rector by 31 August 2020.