Third Academic leadership course concluded with a trip to Brussels

The third Academic leadership and career planning course (ACLA) concluded with a study trip to Brussels – applications for the course in 2023-2024 will open soon!

The third Academic leadership and career planning course (ACLA) concluded with a study trip to Brussels. A group of post-doc course participants, HSSH staff and university research support experts spent intensive three days learning about EU research policy and funding opportunities.

The ACLA course is targeted to post-doctoral researchers who are launching their independent researcher career after earning their PhD and building their own research group. ACLA workshops help researchers to develop their leaderships skills and strategic planning of research themes. Furthermore, the course provides help for planning a research group and taking full use of the research services and infrastructure of the University of Helsinki. The third edition of the course convened during the academic year 2022-2023, coordinated by HSSH Director Risto Kunelius, Vice-Director Pekka Mäkelä and professor Kirsi Pyhältö from the Faculty of Educational Sciences.

Adriana Luna-Fabritius (PhD, Vice-President of the European Society for the History of Political Thougth) found ACLA as one of the most useful courses taken at the University of Helsinki.

“The best thing was to get in touch with course leaders and learn more about the possibilities of applications that we can do and how to become leaders of our own projects. I think it is very necessary for scholars in the University of Helsinki to understand better the number of possibilities that exist and understand that although the applications seem very complicated there is a team of professional people who will support you to take them forward,” Luna-Fabritius says.

“I think HSSH is doing an impressive job at encouraging creating new interdisciplinary groups and helping academics from the university who don't have permanent positions or who want to create their research group. From the point of view of university leadership, what they are doing is fundamental and I hope that it is aligned with the strategies and plans of the university.”

“I would recommend this course not only to PhD researchers, post-doctoral researchers but also to lecturers and young professors who want to take a more active role within the University of Helsinki.”

Adriana Luna-Fabritius hoped she could’ve learned more about HSSH as an organization, and its opportunities for collaboration and multidisciplinary projects. She sees that HSSH, as a new organization, can play a useful role in supporting a needed change in social sciences and humanities research.

”It would be great to know how HSSH’s leadership program is part of a broader University of Helsinki transformation. Change is indeed needed. For instance the University of Oslo launched a fascinating transformation project before the pandemic. They put the humanities at the centre of their multidisciplinary program. It is hopeful to think about the possibility of HSSH being one key axis through which the transformation of the university can and will take place. A high-impact transformation is needed and it can only come from a major leadership vision within the university. With the course, HSSH has created a space in which humanists and social scientists can certainly accommodate and collaborate,” she says.

The academic leadership and career planning course concluded with a study trip to Brussels, to learn about the opportunities for EU funding in the forthcoming 10 years. Adriana Luna-Fabritius thought the trip was useful and made her realise the complicated systems at the EU are not impenetrable and nothing is written in stone.

”I think that everything is solved there by lobbying. It is therefore essential that we make a presence on behalf of the University of Helsinki. Social sciences and humanities in particular seem to have a very marginal place in the landscape where lobbyists who work for their own interests. I think we have to keep engaging with these questions and try to understand how to increase universities’ power in Brussels. We met with people from two associations that are responsible for lobbying universities, but it is not yet evident to me how much impact their work has,” she says.

Senior Funding Advisors Vilma Hämäläinen and Sanna Villikka from University of Helsinki Research Funding Services joined the trip to Brussels with the participants of the course.

“The trip involved several beneficial meetings that also helped deepen my own understanding of how the EU works. However, the best part was getting to know the researchers. During the trip, there was time to talk personally about the course participant’s interests and contemplate the suitability of different EU funding instruments for their needs. At the same time, we were able to discuss the support we offer in research funding services for applying for funding,” Vilma Hämäläinen says.

Hämäläinen and Villikka are happy with the opportunity to join the study trip, though in the future they hope there will more comprehensive preparation for the trip in order to make the best of it.

”The structures of the EU and the funding field with its various institutions and acronyms constitute a really broad entity and getting acquainted with them takes time. A deep dive into these issues in advance allows the things learned on the trip to be put into context. It is also important that the experts we meet in Brussels are well aware of the target audience and their backgrounds - this way we can achieve the most fruitful discussion possible,” Hämäläinen says.

The academic leadership and career planning course will be offered again in the upcoming academic year 2023-2024. Applications will open soon!

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