Rector encourages scientists to express their views

University of Helsinki celebrated its 363rd anniversary on March 26. In his opening address rector Kari Raivio pointed out that the university has the obligation to interact with the society.

There are few societal phenomena or problems that the University as an institution should address and express an opinion about. However, the University must create an atmosphere, in which members of the academic community are aware of the issues being debated and are willing to participate in the debate.

Scientists and teachers represent the best expertise in their fields. They have an obligation to create knowledge through research and to transmit it to their students and the general public. Citizens are entitled to know what the University and its researchers are doing with their tax euros, but popularization of science is also in the best interests of the scientists. Therefore, researchers have the right, even the obligation, to express their views on phenomena and events that are in their field of expertise. Like all citizens, they also have the right, guaranteed by freedom of speech, to express their views on any issue.

An amendment of the University Law is being planned, to obligate the universities to "interact with the rest of the society" when performing their functions. According to rector Raivio such an amendment is unnecessary. The University has always been, and will always be, a part of the society, its critical observer but also indispensable supporter. If there is not a healthy tension between the University and the state authority, neither is doing its job properly.

Rector’s opening address in full

27.3.2003
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