Interaction and Cooperation in the Baltic Sea Region – Coping with a Variety of Institutions, Practices and Values
The Baltic Sea with its drainage basin four times the actual sea is of great importance to the countries of the region. It unites different regional powers, such as Russia and the European Union, and forms close networks of cooperation, i.a. the Council of the Baltic Sea States, the Nordic Council of Ministers, and the Baltic Council of Ministers. The brackish Baltic Sea continues to be one of Europe’s most vulnerable ecosystems, due to extensive pollution and eutrophication problems as well as growing transports in the narrow and shallow straits. Divisions from the past are still being overcome.
The EU’s Baltic Sea Strategy and its Action plan include a number of priority areas to restore the Baltic Sea ecosystem, connect the region and increase prosperity. These efforts require close cooperation with the neighbouring countries in the drainage basin, in particular with Russia. Common goals and values are pursued in practice in such areas as marine environment and maritime safety, the development of the economy and trade, and investment in transport, as well as in better coordination of the use of human and financial resources. This also increases the importance of research networks and training.
The project “Interaction and Cooperation in the Baltic Sea Region – Coping with a Variety of Institutions, Practices, and Values” concentrates on the issues of environment, and the phenomena of social inclusion and exclusion via research network and training, which is crucial in order to find new ways of common understanding and solutions. The participants of this project: the Aleksanteri Institute(Finland), The Centre for Baltic and East European Studies (Sweden), and the European University at St Petersburg (Russia). They are the main national providers of research training in the field of area studies around the Baltic Sea Region.
The project had three aims. First, it was aimed to create a network of researchers and students who share the interest in political, social, economic and cultural development in the Baltic Sea Region,as well as in the environmental issues of the region. This project brought researchers from the Nordic countries and Russia with different academic backgrounds to identify and discuss problems, and to develop theoretical concepts and methodological tools.
The second aim was to intensify Nordic-Russian research training cooperation in area studies in the Baltic Sea Region. To target this aim, the network organised a Summer School for PhD students who conduct research on the Baltic Sea region and have their background in political and social sciences,economics or environmental studies. The Summer School offered theoretical tools and strengthen the methodological skills of the young researchers.
Third, the outcome of this academic network and research training course is a web-based course,which will be offered for the larger audience of students (especially MA level) in all the Nordic countries and Russia. The web-course presents various approaches to the study of transnational issues in the Baltic Sea Region, such as questions of environment, soft security, welfare, and administration. The idea of a MA level web-course also will share knowledge to students who may not continue their careers in the academic world, but may work as experts in the field of administration and business in the Baltic Sea Region. The web-course is based on the lectures given at the Summer School.
Prof. Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen, University of Helsinki, Aleksanteri Institute and Faculty of Social Sciences
Prof. Vladimir Gelman, University of Helsinki, Aleksanteri Institut and European University at St. Petersburg
Ira Jänis-Isokangas, University of Helsinki, Aleksanteri Institute
- Södertörn University
Funding: The Norwegian Centre for International Cooperation in Education (SIU)