Introduction to Finland

Finnish Political Culture and System is an open online course providing a basic introduction to Finland.
  • What are the Finnish political system and culture like?
  • What is the Finnish welfare state based on, and how does it work?
  • What makes Finland tick? 

As in the other Nordic countries, the political culture in Finland is based on a Lutheran ideology, the ideals of the Enlightenment and a social-democratic ethos. The system is founded on trust and rooted in ideas such as equality and high-quality education for all. These components provide the framework for the welfare state, long considered the cornerstone of Finnish society. 

Finnish Political Culture and System is an English-language Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) that introduces students to the basic structures of Finnish society and their functioning. Students can complete the course at their own pace with a scope of 1, 3 or 5 credits. Depending the scope, the studies include online lectures, written material, multiple-choice assignments, web-based discussions and essay writing. 

The English-language video material for the course is openly available and can also be used for purposes other than studying, such as to integrate or organise activities for immigrants in cities and municipalities. 

The course teacher, Anneli Portman, PhD, is an expert working in the City of Helsinki Safety and Preparedness Unit. Her research has focused on the values of political rhetoric and the deep ideological structures of Finnish society: 

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Course content:
  • Finland and Finnish political culture
    How can culture and values be defined? How are they expressed in Finland and the other Nordic countries?
  • Voting
    What kinds of elections are held in Finland, and what is the voting system like? What do we know about the psychology of voting in Finland and elsewhere?
  • Political parties
    What are the main Finnish political parties, and what do they stand for? How well have they done in elections? How do you establish a party in Finland?
  • Parliament
    How does Parliament work, and what is its relationship to the government? How is legislation enacted?
  • Government
    How is the government formed? What are the duties and responsibilities of the prime minister and other ministers?
  • President
    How is the president elected? What is the relationship between the president and the government?
  • Welfare state
    What is the welfare state, what is it based on and how does it work?
  • Social capital
    What is social capital? Why does social trust promote democracy and equality?
  • Finnish foreign policy and peace mediation
    What are the cornerstones and objectives of Finnish foreign policy? Who leads Finnish foreign policy? How does Finland participate in peace mediation?
  • Minorities in Finland
    What linguistic, ethnic and religious minorities live in Finland?
  • Immigration policy and refugees in Finland
    What is integration, and how does it work?