Alumni of the Month, September 2023

The September 2023 edition of the HCAS Alumni Gallery features Jo Shaw and Karoliina Snell
Jo Shaw

Since 2005, I have held the Salvesen Chair of European Institutions at the University of Edinburgh, and before that I held chairs at the Universities of Leeds and Manchester. So my entire career had been in the UK, with only shorter visits to other institutions. My background and academic training has been in European Union Law although historically I have an eclectic range of interests in various areas of law including comparative private law and law and gender. More recently, I have been focusing on citizenship, and while that started out as an interest in European citizenship, more recent projects, including the one I was developing when at HCAS in 2017-2018 as a EURIAS Fellow, have focused on both the national and international dimensions of citizenship. I’m coming towards the end of my academic career, and I recently took on a major management commission as Head of Edinburgh Law School, for around five years. Doubtless my time at HCAS will have fortified me with intellectual nourishment on which I can continue to draw even five years later. 

I’ve had quite a long engagement with Helsinki University. Initially that was with colleagues in the Faculty of Law, who recently honoured me with the award of an Honorary Degree in the doctoral conferment in June 2023. When I was Director of the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities (IASH) at the University of Edinburgh, I became increasingly interested in the different models of Institutes for Advanced Study (especially across Europe), and I was delighted to visit HCAS for a networking conference with other IAS Directors during my tenure at IASH. My general attachment to Helsinki as a venue for serious study plus the congenial environment of the HCAS convinced me that when my own time came for a period of renewed research focus, it would be a great opportunity if I could secure a fellowship at HCAS. I was delighted when I was offered the chance. It has offered a significant moment for the internationalisation of my own career. 

My time as a EURIAS Fellow at HCAS was incredibly fruitful. I enjoyed a great deal the collegiality of the Collegium, whilst appreciating the calm time for reflection, reading and writing. All this came at the conclusion of an incredibly stressed and stretched decade of research leadership and management. HCAS provides extraordinarily good conditions for scholarship and was the place where I seeded the ideas that became my latest monograph entitled The People in Question (Bristol University Press, 2020). I remain immensely grateful for the support and trust placed in me as an HCAS fellow and only wish that the distance between me and Helsinki, along with the obligations I currently carry, did not make it so difficult for me to be an active alumna. However, I always look forward to hearing about news from HCAS and about fellows, both past and present. 

Karoliina Snell

I am a sociologist focusing on science and technology studies and the role of data and AI in society. My research at the Collegium (2018-2019) dealt with utilisation and commercialisation of health data and related moral justifications. First, working at the Collegium made it possible – after many years of project work – to focus on my own research, publishing and strengthening my competence profile. Second, the interdisciplinary environment also supported the appreciation of other disciplines and opened up new cooperation opportunities. Both of these aspects have been of great benefit to my career.

Currently, I’m affiliated with University of Helsinki and work as Programme director for “Security and trust in the age of algorithms” (SHIELD), which is a large cross-disciplinary research programme funded by Strategic Research Council. My task is to support research-based impact and dialogue between research and society. The time at the Collegium helped me enormously as this work requires both a solid background in research and understanding of other fields, research settings and ways of thinking. I have also learned that curiosity-driven research and societal impact can be integrated, and both require love for research, which the Collegium fosters.