Helsinki Summer School: A Heavy Experience

This August, the Helsinki Summer School will offer more innovative courses than ever. Some of the highlights are the evolution of computer and board games, the history of heavy metal music under the supervision of the “Heavy Metal Doctor”, and a field course on the analysis of environmental impacts. Registration for courses this August is currently in progress.

The University of Helsinki’s international Helsinki Summer School will offer students memorable learning experiences in August 2015. Students can choose from among 21 courses to build a three-week study programme. Examples of innovative and activity-based courses include Games and History:

“Games and History combines board and computer games with historical interpretations. The course participants will also play board and computer games,” promises Larissa Vanamo of the Helsinki Summer School.

Another course, Environmental Impacts of Catchment from Headwaters to the Sea, is ideal for those who wish to explore not only Helsinki but also other parts of Finland and conduct field research. The first week of the course is spent at the Viikki Campus of the University of Helsinki and the next two at research stations in Lammi and Tvärminne.

On the heavy metal trail

Most of the attention concerning this year’s course selection has centred on the course headed by doctoral student Paolo Ribaldini entitled Heavy Metal Music in Contemporary History and Society. Finns got to know Ribaldini when he appeared in the televised Voice of Finland music competition, where his coach was Tarja Turunen.

On the Voice of Finland show, Ribaldini became known as the “Heavy Metal Doctor”. He is not entirely comfortable with the title because he has not actually completed his doctorate yet. But he is keen to shake up people’s perceptions of the academic world:

“It was obviously more interesting for the programme to call me a heavy metal doctor than just a long-haired guy who occasionally sings metal. I think it made people see that working at the University doesn’t mean withdrawing into an ivory tower,” Ribaldini says.

The course participants will also explore heavy metal music at concerts. Ribaldini will respect the students’ interests: “What we go and listen to obviously depends on the group. If the participants are oriented towards extreme metal, for example, we will move in that direction.”

Heavy metal fans of the world, take note!

The unique course has also been noted on the heavy metal scene, with articles published in Metal Insider and Blabbermouth. Ribaldini has received several offers of collaboration, leading to guest lectures by W.A.S.P. guitarist Doug Blair and British author Joel McIver.

Larissa Vanamo tells us that the course has attracted a great deal of attention around the world. Registered participants currently include students from Europe, China, Japan, North America and even the Dominican Republic. “But a few places are still available,” Vanamo adds.

Finland: the promised land of heavy metal?

Finland has been seen as a country of hard rock due to its long winters and melancholic mentality. But Paolo Ribaldini thinks it is about social tolerance:

“In many other countries, metal fandom can cause trouble in social contexts. In Finland, heavy metal fans are not shunned. They are a natural part of other Finnish subcultures, so their presence doesn’t cause disputes, and the community of fans is doing well even though it isn’t all that big.”

Heavy metal researchers meet in Helsinki this June

In addition to students interested in heavy metal music, researchers of the same genre will meet in Finland this summer. They will convene in Helsinki on 8−12 June at the conference Modern Heavy Metal: Markets, Practices and Cultures. The conference will feature more than 50 researchers’ talks on heavy metal and hard rock, including the metal music industry and related business ventures. One of the most prominent speakers will be Deena Weinstein, a legend in heavy metal research.

The programme will include performances by artists ranging from Anthrax to multiple Grammy nominee Scott Ian. Friends of metal music can enjoy several concerts during the week held around Helsinki.


Register now for the Summer School is open - The registration period for the Helsinki Summer School will end in July, but potential students should register as soon as possible to ensure that they have enough time to make accommodation arrangements.

See a video presentation of Paolo Ribaldini’s course Heavy Metal Music in Contemporary

Listen to an audio sample from Paolo Ribaldini’s YouTube channel