In 2017, the vice-deans for the Faculty of Arts will be Matti Miestamo, professor of general linguistics, and Mikko Saikku, professor of American studies.

Big Wheel keeps on turning

Vice-dean Matti Miestamo is responsible for teaching affairs, including doctoral education.

 “My main duty is ensuring that we keep the Big Wheel rolling along, and launch the new programmes without trouble," says Miestamo.

 “The changes at the Faculty of Arts are much more dramatic than the ones in most faculties, as we are wrapping up many small disciplines into large Bachelor’s and Master’s programmes. We will have to work hard to integrate different practices and opinions. The biggest challenge of course is time. But the Big Wheel also offers excellent opportunities for reforming teaching content, methods and practices. The new programmes enable joint theory and methodology education along with many other types of synergy.”

The establishment of University Services and the internal reorganisation of the Faculty are happening simultaneously with the Big Wheel reform.

 “In terms of drafting teaching programmes, we should know as early as possible what kind of organisational structure we will have to allocate teacher resources to, and how we can reconcile the needs of different programmes with one another. Many of us are uncertain as to what we will be teaching, and in which programmes, during the coming academic year, and how all this is to be coordinated,” states Matti Miestamo.

 “The often-mentioned engagement of students is an opportunity worth taking. I believe that more independent, but supervised, learning leads to better outcomes. The slogan ‘less teaching, more learning’ has elicited a range of different responses, but I believe that if correctly understood and applied, it is a good principle."

Matti Miestamo has served as professor of general linguistics at the Department of Modern Languages since 2014. Before that, he served as professor at the University of Stockholm. He also leads the international Master’s Programme in Linguistic Diversity in the Digital Age as well as the Langnet network of doctoral programmes.

Fundraising and social visibility

Mikko Saikku is an alumnus of the University of Helsinki’s Faculty of Arts, and has carried out a number of teaching and research duties at the Faculty. Before his current position at the Department of World Cultures he served as professor of general history.

Specialising in the culture of the southern parts of the United States, Saikku has also worked periodically in North American universities and is well-versed in their practices, for example fundraising.

As vice-dean, Mikko Saikku’s responsibilities include community interaction, alumni affairs, fundraising, international affairs and equality.

 “I doubt I'll be able to accomplish everything I want in a year, but I think a few issues will become particularly important; for example, developing the Finnish culture of donation by advertising the tax exemptions of donations, improving the social visibility of our Faculty as well as developing international activities through student and teacher exchange," explains Saikku.

 “However, my job description as vice-dean is very diverse, and no single area is more important than another. This is why I would like as much feedback and as many suggestions from people at the Faculty as possible.”