At the intersection of East and West

Lotta Lounasmeri, the director of the Master’s Programme in European and Nordic Studies, finds that the location of Helsinki between East and West offers something special for students focusing on Europe and the Nordics.

Lotta Lounasmeri herself has worked at the Centre for European Studies since 2016 as a postdoctoral researcher and has a background in media and communication studies.

“My research interest focuses on Finnish political culture in a Nordic and European context, and in my latest project funded by the Academy of Finland I explored the Finnish culture of decision-making particularly in the energy sector,” Lounasmeri describes.

She is teaching or coordinating several courses in the Master's Programme in European and Nordic Studies: Current research on Europe and Norden, Common Challenges in Contemporary Europe, Qualitative Research Methods and Master’s Thesis Seminar.

She sees it as a vital ingredient to introduce new ways of teaching and learning into the programme:

“Even if it is important to study theories and literature, it is not enough. In today’s world to genuinely broaden our horizons, we need to engage in experiential learning, and use our whole being to learn, both the mind and the heart. In practice, this can mean using case studies and a problem-based learning approach, in such a way that engages the students in doing, not only thinking with their minds. Learning needs to become an activity that happens in the whole body, not just the brain. We need to connect back to ourselves and stop living only in our heads”, Lounasmeri says. 

This is a challenge in the current situation where distance learning is emphasized, and classroom activities have been minimized for the time being.

“We are doing our best in the programme to engage the students via online activities, but also organizing more informal get-togethers to foster our academic community and create that human contact that is so vital to all of us, in any circumstances”, she underlines. 

A broad-based programme with a Nordic focus

The programme brings together knowledge from the humanities and social sciences about Europe and the Nordic countries. Students become aware of current, extensive trends and their roots in European societies.

“With a solid foundation based on a bachelor’s degree in the social sciences or humanities, the programme both deepens and expands students’ skills by providing them with a more comprehensive understanding of how modern societies function and what role history, institutions and culture play in their development.”

The Master’s Programme in European and Nordic studies analyses the current and historical role of Europe in the world from the perspectives of political, cultural and historical studies. The Nordic context plays a central role.

“Europe is comprised of a huge number of peoples, languages and identity groups, and is also continuously evolving. The Nordic countries are emphasised as a particular geographical area, cultural and political entity and historical narrative.”

The programme focuses on the diverse identity issues of an ever-evolving continent.

“The programme provides students with the tools to discern how Europe has become Europe, and how different, sometimes mutually conflicting, perspectives, can be justified,” Lounasmeri notes.

Thoughtful, empathic and international 

The programme aims to provide students with tools for analysing social issues not only critically and analytically, but also thoughtfully and with empathy.

The graduates are well-equipped to work in international specialist positions in the EU, the communications sector, organisations promoting Nordic cooperation, and the like. Students enthusiastic about research work are encouraged to pursue postgraduate studies.

“The programme is highly international and invests in the development of interaction and presentation skills through teaching, as well as in the integration of students into the academic community,” Lounasmeri says.

Helsinki is an excellent city for students focusing on Europe.

“As a European university city, Helsinki can offer something special: it is located at a distinct intersection of East and West. Genuinely diverse cultural and historical influences can be clearly seen and sensed in this city.”