Mission and Organization

The Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies is an independent institute of the University of Helsinki.

The Collegium’s mission is to
1) offer scholars a state-of-the-art research environment that is attractive and international for conducting research in the humanities and social sciences
2) reform research in the humanities and social sciences and to promote interdisciplinary research
3) collaborate with the University faculties and engage researchers to participate actively in the researcher education offered by the University.

The Collegium is governed by its Executive Board and Director. The Executive Board represents various academic constituencies of the University of Helsinki, and the Director is expected to be an active scholar with an international orientation. Professor Tuomas Forsberg began his term as the director of the Collegium in August 2018. He holds a professorship in International Relations at the University of Tampere.

The Collegium also has a deputy director, whose responsibilities include developing programs with external funding as well as the Collegium's journal publication, in addition to doing active research as university researcher. Dr. Mats Bergman has functioned as the deputy director of the HCAS since the beginning of 2018.

In addition, the Collegium organises regular staff meetings and it also has an Internal Committee for Academic Affairs responsible for developing the academic life at the Collegium.

The Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies has a Board entrusted with the following duties in addition to those stipulated in the Regulations of the University of Helsinki: 

  • To monitor that the Collegium’s activities are in line with Collegium's mission and support the University’s strategic objectives
  • To define, together with the director, the thematic areas of emphasis of the Collegium
  • To propose to the rector the appointment of the Collegium’s Academic Advisory Board

Members of the HCAS Board, 1 April 2018 – 31 March 2022

(Member / Deputy Member)
Vice Rector Hanna Snellman (Chair)Director Ritva Dammert
Vice Dean Petri LuomanenVice Dean Elina Vuola
Vice Dean Taina Pihlajarinne / University Lecturer Ari Hirvonen
Vice Dean Paavo PylkkänenProfessor Matti Miestamo
Vice Dean Kristiina KumpulainenProfessor Erika Löfström
Dean Johanna MäkeläDean Hannu Nieminen
Vice Dean Petri YlikoskiVice Dean Juri Mykkänen
University Researcher Hanna-Riikka Roine / University Researcher Ritva Palmén
Student Jussi IkkalaStudent Matthias Aulbach

The Board of the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies comprises nine (9) members, each of whom has a deputy. Of the members, seven (7) represent the research fields and academic leadership of the City Centre Campus. The Collegium staff elects one member and his or her deputy from among themselves. The University of Helsinki Student Union elects one postgraduate student member and his or her deputy from among themselves for a term of two years.

The Rector of the University appoints the members of the Board. The Board elects a vice chair from amongst its members.

The Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies has a steering group appointed by the director. The duty of the steering group is to support the director in the management of the Collegium. 

The Collegium may have committees and other forums appointed by the director to support him or her specifically in academic decision-making.

The Helsinki Collegium has an international Academic Advisory Board, whose members are appointed by the Rector of the University. The Collegium’s Academic Advisory Board includes five (5) members who are distinguished scholars in the fields represented at the Collegium. The rector of the University invites, on the proposal of the Board, the members to serve on the Academic Advisory Board for a term of three years.

The following Academic Advisory Board members have been appointed for the period 1.1.2019 – 31.12.2021:

  • Ph.D. Christine Helmer, Northwestern University
  • Ph.D. Ann Phoenix, University College London
  • Ph.D. Morten Kyndrup, Aarhus Universitet
  • Ph.D. Johannes Persson, Lunds universitet
  • Ph.D. Andreas Kasekamp, University of Toronto

The duty of the Academic Advisory Board is to, together with the director and Board,

  • Support the Collegium leadership in strategic planning by offering visions for the Collegium’s development
  • Take initiatives and issue statements on directing the Collegium’s research
  • Evaluate the activities and operational structure of the Collegium within the overall framework of the University

According to its regulations, the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies (HCAS) is committed to conducting high quality research in humanities and social sciences. Since the Collegium does not have its own research agenda, we fulfill this commitment through the research of our Fellows. The Fellows are for the most part selected through an extremely competitive and internationally advertised open call. We publish the requirements and evaluation practices openly on our webpages during the Call and the applicants are entitled to see their evaluations after the nominations are announced.

The main criteria in fellow selection are the quality of the research plan, academic accomplishments and the compatibility of the research project with the HCAS action plan. The call announcement emphasizes our goal to recruit researchers in all career stages. In the selection procedure, project proposals are also evaluated based on whether they cross disciplinary boundaries and whether they promote discussion on the nature, methods, theoretical assumptions and functions of humanistic and social scientific research.

International experts evaluate the applications independently of the Collegium and the University of Helsinki administration.

Once the Fellows have been accepted to the Collegium we aim to provide them with time free of unnecessary demands, but at the same time we believe that in order to fulfill our mission as an institute of advanced study certain demands must be put on to our Fellows. Most important of these is perhaps the residency requirement. We can only build a mutually enriching scholarly community if our scholars are here and interact with each other. Other ways to increase and support this interaction, which we believe has the potential to transform the research done here in a meaningful way, are the weekly fellows' seminars and other social activities.

The Fellows organize several events at the Collegium every year. The Collegium provides financial and administrative help for the organizing Fellow. To ensure that the topic and content of an event conforms to the HCAS action plan, each event must be discussed in Internal Committee for Academic Affairs meetings (ICAA) and approved by our Director. This Committee consists of a small number of Collegium Fellows and is chaired by the Director.

We believe that quality in research also arises from an excellent work environment. In addition to ensuring that our Fellows have ample time to devote to their research, we provide them with offices, computers, and standard office equipment as well as with limited research assistance. We support their field work needs and travels to international conferences with an annual travel allowance and a small research allowance. We also support their international publishing careers by proving them access to the University’s translation and language check services with no charge to the individual Fellow. The Collegium also has its own internationally peer-reviewed open access publication series, COLLeGIUM.

We monitor and evaluate the activities of its Fellows through final reports and the TUHAT database. We actively publish these results on our webpages and biannual Newsletter. We also collect statistics on the disciplines, gender, nationality, home University and other similar factors of applicants and appointed fellows in order to evaluate and develop our activities.

The HCAS guarantees its Fellows high-quality working environment, support services and working conditions.

The administrative staff together with the Director and Vice-Director meet regularly once a week to discuss current administrative issues. This weekly meeting is also a forum where we can discuss potential improvement ideas and decide upon the practical steps that need to be taken in order to realize those ideas. Since the staff is small, exchange of information between staff members is easy. Thus our Fellows are able to receive the information and help they require fast and reliably. We have an extremely service-oriented support staff. In addition to this face-to-face help, our Flamma pages and links from there to the relevant pages of the University's different support services as well as our HCAS Staff Workgroup provide our Fellows a permanent source for information concerning the Collegium and the University as an employer as well as other matters.

The Fellows participate in the Collegium administration mainly through three formal channels. The Internal Committee for Academic Affairs (ICAA), consisting of Fellows, advices the Director in matters concerning HCAS symposia, Collegium Lectures, public lecture series as well as other matters in which the Director would like hear the Fellows input. Another forum of communication is our staff meeting where the Fellows are also informed of current administrative issues. The third venue is our Executive Board, where the Fellows and administrative staff have a joint representative.

In all of our staff recruitment decisions, we always take into consideration the international nature of HCAS and thus require excellent language and professional skills from all of our staff members. We also encourage the staff members to participate in University and outside training programs when necessary. We take great pride in our level of service.