BAMSE 2020 will advance methodology in Area Studies

Area Studies is an interdisciplinary field of research and scholarship pertaining to particular geographical, national, or cultural regions. As they typically draw on a wide variety of disciplines such as political science, history, sociology, ethnology, geography, linguistics, literature, and cultural studies, it is challenging yet extremely important to evaluate and keep developing the methodological grounds the field is based on.

The newly established Baltic-Nordic Network for the Advancement of Methodology in Area Studies (BAMSE 2020) promotes state-of-the-art research and education in area studies in the Baltic-Nordic area by concentrating on the theoretical and methodological underpinnings of area studies. The network is a meeting point for ideas and people aiming to reevaluate and advance area studies theories and methodologies in collaboration of teachers, researchers and students from partner institutions and their stakeholders.

One of the key activities of BAMSE 2020 is an intensive course for advanced bachelor’s students and master’s students in spring 2021. The joint course highlights the significance and embedded potential of area studies in understanding transnational challenges regarding underlying changes in power structures/relations, identity constructions, communication, symbolic politics and culture.

— It is highly important to develop new interdisciplinarity methods to analyze the complex phenomena we confront today, says Director of Educational Programs Jouni Järvinen. This course aims at fostering these objectives through profound interdisciplinary contemplation of societal, as well as methodological and theoretical, questions facing students and scholars.

Cross-institutional learning leads to pedagogical innovations

Besides Järvinen, key people behind the initiative include Head of Discipline for Eastern European Studies, Katalin Miklóssy, coordinator of the East Central European, Balkan and Baltic Studies, Minna Oroza, and coordinator for the Expertise Studies on Russia and Eastern Europe (ExpREES), Hanna Peltonen. All four have worked with area studies for long enough to recognize the need for developing new pedagogical methods for area studies education. The intensive course produced under BAMSE 2020 thus relies on discursive pedagogy where the partners apply different pedagogical formats. This approach will provide opportunities for cross-institutional learning of best practices and may lead to pedagogical innovations.   

BAMSE 2020 is funded by Nordplus Higher Education Programme and coordinated by the East Central European, Balkan and Baltic Studies (ECEBB) and the ExpREES programmes at the Aleksanteri Institute, University of Helsinki. Network partners include the Institute of International Relations and Political Science, Vilnius University, Master’s Program in European Studies and Economic Diplomacy, University of Latvia and the Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies, University of Tartu.