Kone funded fellowship programme enhances academic cooperation

In January the Aleksanteri Institute welcomed this year's first Young Russian Scholar Helsinki Fellowship Program (YRUSH) visiting fellow Anastasia Novkunskaya — and there are more to come. In 2019, altogether nine young Russian scholars will get acquainted with the vibrant academic circles of the University of Helsinki.

The goal of the YRUSH programme is to provide visiting PhD students from Russia an inspiring, multidisciplinary academic environment to work in, and in turn allow their perspectives and ideas to enrichen the Finnish research community of Russian, East European and Eurasian studies.

The YRUSH fellows, who come from the European University of St. Petersburs, know Helsinki for its excellent information resources. Many spend long hours digging deep into the Finnish National Archive's records or the unique collection of the Slavonic Library. For this, the Aleksanteri Institute is ideal, as it is located practically next door to both. What often proves to be more important still, are the professional networks that open up through the seminars, discussions and meetings at the Institute. While the primary motivation for the YRUSH fellows is to get support in finishing their doctoral dissertations, the importance of creating international contacts for further academic cooperation should not be underestimated. This goes the other way, too.

Inspired and supported by the research community

YRUSH fellow Anastasia Novkunskaya already knew quite a bit about the city and the University of Helsinki before starting her fellowship at the Aleksanteri Institute. Besides being a research fellow of the Gender Studies Program at the EUSP, she also is a doctoral student of the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Helsinki. She is highly motivated to continue her work.

— My main goal for this fellowship is to finalize my thesis and prepare its defense by the end of the year. I feel that the University of Helsinki provides a great opportunity for it in terms of available resources, library accessibility and friendly environment, Novkunskaya sums up.

The Aleksanteri Institute from a new angle

For Novkunskaya, diving into the new working environment went smoothly, as she already had some contacts at the University of Helsinki.

— There are quite a few doctoral students, postdocs and professors, whom I knew before personally, but I have also met many new scholars. It is really great to have this opportunity of networking and communication with people from different research fields and backgrounds.

Having attended several conferences at the Aleksanteri Institute, also the physical environment was familiar to Novkunskaya. However, the University of Helsinki's central campus doesn't cease to inspire her.

— I have enjoyed using all the facilities at hand, such as the Helsinki University Library and other libraries, Think Corner and the information services. In particular I appreciate the highly expertised and interesting people, who are very friendly to communicate with.

To facilitate the exchange of knowledge and to make the research conducted by the YRUSH fellows available also for the broader academic audience, the fellows wrap up their work at the Aleksanteri Institute by giving a public presentation on their research topic in the seminar series New Perspectives on Russia and Eurasia.

The Young Russian Scholars Helsinki Fellowship Program (YRUSH) is co-directed by professor Vladimir Gel'man and Dr. Sari Autio-Sarasmo and coordinated by Dr. Ira Jänis-Isokangas. In 2018-2020 it is funded by Kone Foundation.