Kollegium Talks

It is often emphasized that curiosity in natural sciences leads to great discoveries and, ultimately, useful applications. But what is the role of curiosity in human and social sciences? How do researchers in these fields manage the need to stay open to the unexpected while grounding their work in systematic methods? Are today's academics still allowed to be led by mere curiosity, or must they conform to the demands of applicability and strategic career calculation?

Kollegium Talks is a discussion series hosted by the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies and University of Helsinki Think Corner. The events are free and open to the public and take place at the Think Corner Stage (Yliopistonkatu 4). In the spring 2019 Kollegium Talks events, scholars of the Helsinki Collegium shared their experience on negotiating between curiosity and discipline in research. Recordings of the talks are available on YouTube (see below).

Speakers: Jane Cowan (Erkko Professor), Michael Langlois (HCAS Fellow), Emilia Mataix Ferrándiz (HCAS Fellow)

Moderation: Kaisa Kaakinen


When applying for funding, researchers have to present carefully crafted research plans. Yet, the actual trajectories of research projects and careers are often anything but straightforward. This panel discussion brings together three researchers from the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies to share their stories of the unexpected turns their careers have taken as they have let themselves be guided by exciting research problems. Have such personal research paths increased their ability to engage with new research projects in a more creative way? How to make the wandering curiosity of a researcher a productive asset in research?

Speakers: HCAS Fellows Patricia Garcia, Alexandre Nikolaev, Silva Nurmio 

Moderation: Karoliina Snell (HCAS Fellow)


Researchers in the humanities and social sciences are often asked, whether their research is scientific and objective or just descriptive and speculative. This panel, featuring researchers from the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, sheds light on the actual research practices in these fields. How do the Collegium Fellows combine rigorous methodology and creativity in their work? What is curiosity-driven research in practice? What is the role of experimentality – including failed experiments? Which comes first: methodology, curiosity, or science policy?