any social scientists out there?

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Nathan Lillie
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any social scientists out there?

Post by Nathan Lillie » Sun Oct 05, 2003 6:21 pm

I'm a recent immigrant to Finland recently because of my wife, and would like some advice on how the Finnish academic scene works in the social sciences. My wife is in biosciences, but things seem to be different there. From what I've seen so far, Helsinki University's social science departments seem pretty insular, but maybe I'm looking in the wrong places.

I'm still working for my old university (Cornell, in the US) on semi-permanent field assignment (which is a pretty sweet deal), but am looking to find some Finland-based collaborator or institutional association, or something. In the long term I want to work here and it would be good to start building some local associations. However, I haven't been having much luck at generating interest at Helsinki University - maybe I've been knocking on the wrong doors or something.

I'm in industrial relations, which means dabbling in political science, sociology, and economics, although in concrete terms what I do is international union politics and maritime trade union research. It is a pretty small universe of potential colleagues here in Finland, but there do seem to be a few people around.

If anybody out there is involved in Finnish social sciences as a graduate student, professor, lecturer or something, I would be very grateful of some insight into the world of Finnish social sciences, and in particular political science and sociology in Helsinki University or Tampere. Thanks in advance for any advice.



any social scientists out there?

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kultary
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Post by kultary » Tue Oct 07, 2003 11:24 am

The university of Tampere does offer English language studies in social sciences (see http://www.uta.fi/laitokset/isss/). I attend this programme many, many years ago.

- Ryan


amayer
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academic jobs: biosciences

Post by amayer » Tue Oct 14, 2003 4:45 pm

Hi Nathan:

I'm thinking about moving to Finland, but have been a bit worried about job prospects... I'm a PhD ecologist, and I don't know what the demand is for such a creature. You mentioned your wife is in the biosciences... can you tell me what her job experiences have been like? Also, are there any listserves or websites on which Finnish universities post faculty or docent positions?

Thanks much!

Audrey


Donald

Re: academic jobs: biosciences

Post by Donald » Tue Oct 14, 2003 5:01 pm

amayer wrote:Hi Nathan:

I'm thinking about moving to Finland, but have been a bit worried about job prospects... I'm a PhD ecologist, and I don't know what the demand is for such a creature. You mentioned your wife is in the biosciences... can you tell me what her job experiences have been like? Also, are there any listserves or websites on which Finnish universities post faculty or docent positions?

Thanks much!

Audrey
Hello Audrey,

Welcome to .! I suggest you go to our link forum where you can find the links for all the universities, polytechnics and preparatory schools in Finland. Some of the preparatory schools offer open university courses with paricipating universities in its area. Expect NOT to get paid what you're currenty being paid in the USA. Salaries are one third to one fifth of what they are in the USA. High taxes, fees, gasoline and cost of living here are the norm. If you are looking for a safe, clean environment with a social services safety net, then Finland is the place. :wink:


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Nathan Lillie
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Post by Nathan Lillie » Sat Oct 18, 2003 2:58 pm

Hi Audrey,

My wife is a plant pathologist, devoted to protecting Finnish potatos from plant eating microbes. A couple years back, the her phone was ringing off the hook with job offers, but instead she came to the US to wait for me to finish my PHD :(

But now, funding is hard to come by, to the extent that there is pressure on people to lecture even if they aren't paid to do it.

However, this is on the molecular end. I don't really know how things otherwise, though I suspect much the same, since there seems to be a general drying up of funding everywhere.

I don't know how far you are along in your career, but from your post, it sounds like you have recently completed your Phd (which is where I am at too).

As far as salaries are concerned, for junior scientists (post-docs in the university setting), they are comparable or better in Finland as compared to the US, with the added bonuses of universal health care with no deductibles, and high quality low to mid end housing. Taxes here are high, but ultimately not that bad if you don't make much money, especially since you won't have to pay for lots of things which you have to pay for in the US. Regardless, if you have work here as an academic, you will have enough money to live comfortably, especially outside Helsinki.

They do post adds for job openings on the university web sites - but you have to go to the universities individually. However, they don't hire people who apply through these adds. Rather, they hire their ex-graduate students, or if they are feeling adventurous, they hire their best friends from other Finnish universities. The way in from the outside appears to be via foriegn collaborators, or via official internaitonal projects (check out CIMO) .

If you are really determined (i.e. in a relationship with a Finn), I would recommend you contact an established Finnish research group and try to interest them in a collaboration, or in taking you on board as a post-doc. If you can raise your own funding, they should be delighted, if you need funding from them, you will really need to be God's own gift to science to get them to pay you in the current funding environment. Once you are in, then you will have a shot at becoming a docent. Professor here means "full professor" (they don't have assistants, associates or adjuncts), so docent is where most academics end up for a large part or all of their careers.

I hope this helps, but feel free to contact me with questions if you have them - if I can't answer them, Riitta (my wife) probably can.

Nathan


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Hank W.
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Post by Hank W. » Mon Nov 03, 2003 10:18 pm

Well, in the linguistics field there is Eugene Holman, who if, IIRC, moved here from NY in the 1970's. And if I am not totally mistaken he is also an African-American. He is in the Helsinki University last I checked:

e-mail: [email protected]

Language expertise: English*, Finnish, Swedish, Russian, German (fluent); Estonian, Vepsian, Japanese, Latin (active); Danish, Norwegian,
Dutch, Old English, Gothic (passive)
Special interests: Inflectional morphology, sociohistorical linguistics, linguistic modelling


He knows more of Finnish and Fenno-Ugric languages I've ever dreamt of forgetting. I quote his stuff off soc.culture.nordic (do a google) .- you ask him about word etymology or language relations and you get a 10-page essay. Really an impressing man!
Cheers, Hank W.
sitting here like a lemon looking for a gin.


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Nathan Lillie
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Post by Nathan Lillie » Tue Nov 04, 2003 11:41 am

AKAVA is more than a bit wussy. Working conditions and funding in academia have been in serious decline in Finland much worse than elsewhere, but AKAVA doesn't really seem to be on the case offering an alternative. They should be out there promoting funding for scientists and scholars and fighting to keep and get more professorships funded (de-causualize the job market). Maybe I can join the dockworkers union instead. They seem to have a good thing going :)

I don't think unions in Finland generally have too much awareness of foreign worker issues. Maybe somebody else out there has some experience with this, and could offer an informed perspective?

A foreign worker organization strikes me as a very good idea, though, and perhaps not just for academics. I don't know if there is enough critical mass in foreign academics in Finland to create a viable organization. But a larger organization might be able to get some attention focused on some common immigrant problems - and maybe fix some of the issues with academia too.

Hank, that Eugene Holman guy sounds totally intimidating. But I'll look him up - maybe he can offer some pointers on how to work the system if nothing else.


Tom and Jerry

Post by Tom and Jerry » Tue Nov 04, 2003 1:10 pm

Nathan Lillie wrote:

I don't think unions in Finland generally have too much awareness of foreign worker issues. Maybe somebody else out there has some experience with this, and could offer an informed perspective?

A foreign worker organization strikes me as a very good idea, though, and perhaps not just for academics. I don't know if there is enough critical mass in foreign academics in Finland to create a viable organization.
No, unions are not aware of that and do not want to be. The key word is internationalisation (kansainvälisyys). I once took an initiative and the answer was asthonishing: the union made a whole report intended for Fins who are willing to work abroad, outside Finland. That's the issue of foreign workers, they declared.

An organization isn't a very good idea, since the backgrounds are so different and there are simply too few. It's all so different for expats, EU, non-EU, experts, academic, non-academic.


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Nathan Lillie
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Post by Nathan Lillie » Tue Nov 04, 2003 2:23 pm

:D
Last edited by Nathan Lillie on Fri Apr 30, 2004 4:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.


Tom and Jerry

Post by Tom and Jerry » Tue Nov 04, 2003 2:51 pm

"I heard a rumour that the only foreign head of department ever in Finnish science was Swedish. Disproportionate when you contemplate the number of foreign researchers that pass through Finnish universities"

Didn't that happen last year? Or is that another case?

For heads of departments there is this language requirement (Finnish and Swedish).
So, the university put an advertisement in the international magazines in 2001 and they forgot to put there that the guy should be fluent in Finnish. So, one lost bird from Sweden replied and he got the job after he threatened with court, because Finnish was not asked for in the original advertisement. It was at the Swedish school I thought.

Otherwise never heard of any foreigner appointed for an administrative function at the university. ... As an expert, yes.

The laws on this changed considerably in 1994. Before that a foreigner (without knowing Finnish) could be appointed in an expert job by a presidential decision, and that even happened so now and then.


Tom and Jerry

Post by Tom and Jerry » Tue Nov 04, 2003 2:54 pm

"Tom, that's really interesting about your experience with the union. Was it with an AKAVA union? I wouldn't mind hearing some more details, because my research is on union issues, and in particular on union internationalism. There may be an academic paper in this issue somewhere... "


Interesting, isn't it?

The union of sea-people (what is the name in English: merimiesliitto) may be the most conservative in this respect.


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Post by Hank W. » Tue Nov 04, 2003 3:09 pm

Unions in my opinion are worth nothing. I paid my dues to various unions and they did jackall if trouble came. All they are interested is fattening the politicians. The only reason I belong to an union now is that I joined to it as a student because they are working towards the recognition of the polytechnic degrees (and I think it is in AKAVA). But if I was not in due to the educational purpose I'd belong to the YTK and tell the unions to go stuff themselves. I am still waiting my monies back because I refuse to pay Merimiesunioni any dues because I am not a member and I will or will not belong to a union but it is my choise and not theirs. I have been working under the Liberian and Bahamian flags and I refuse to pay Merimiesunioni a cent, perkele. Well, my seamans book is going invalid in 2005 and I'm not been seashape anyways but I hate being dictated what to do by some communists that never come to your help if needed.
Cheers, Hank W.
sitting here like a lemon looking for a gin.


Tom and Jerry

Post by Tom and Jerry » Tue Nov 04, 2003 3:22 pm

Hank W. wrote:Unions in my opinion are worth nothing. I paid my dues
I would suggest for those English speaking, who have a job, who are allowed to be a member of an union and who live in Finland:

- go and get the membership of the union.

(By the way, do I have anybody left after those three conditions?)

It is a very good and efficient way of extending your network. Very useful to talk with collegues about the working conditions, about the contracts or drink a beer.

Perhaps you should realize that union has nothing to do with the American or English union. An union in Finland is just part of the political system, and a quite important part, but I wouldn't call them left or right.


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Post by Hank W. » Tue Nov 04, 2003 3:42 pm

Tom and Jerry wrote:
(By the way, do I have anybody left after those three conditions?)
A few.

Actually, now to think of it if I wouldn't be a member of the education-based union I might join the local in-house union. Basically as they have quite decent activities. It depends pretty much on the place & union, but on big work places they organize all kinds of things, so yes, from the networking point of view it is a good idea.
Cheers, Hank W.
sitting here like a lemon looking for a gin.


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Post by Nathan Lillie » Tue Nov 04, 2003 3:47 pm

Seafaring unions happen to be my speciality. I wrote a Phd disseration on the ITF.

Hank, the world market rate for a non-union able seaman is about $800 per month (total cost, including all wages and benefits). It used to be 300-400, in the 1980s, before the unions were able to leverage dock union support to bring the union world market rate up to $1300 - which forced non-union operators to pay more if they didn't want to hire camel herders from Afghanistan who'd never seen a ship before (some shipowners, though, do just that).

Those are International Shipping Federation statistics, and they are for time actually worked - no paid time off.

The only reason why Finnish pay is better is because unions keep a certain (but shrinking) territory of ships under Finnish flag for themselves.
It also means that Finnish shipowners are constantly trying to flag out - but sometimes the union is able to stop them.

So, yeah, you can have have a capitalist shipowner instead of a communist unionist tell you what to do, but you should be willing to work at $300-400 per month then. Are you willing to do that? If so, I can take your ideology seriously, but if not then you should acknowledge that by not paying your dues you are not paying your fair share to making sure you receive a living wage.

Now, as you can tell I'm not at all happy with the way unions are operating, either in Finland or anywhere else. But saying that they are useless is not recognizing their importance to underpinning your economic and democratic rights, and ensuring that you really do get paid a fair wage for your work.


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