It has now been proved. Last summer Finland was in last place in the Failed States Index 2012 compiled by the organisation Fund for Peace or, the other way round, Finland was in the first place as the most peaceful country in the world.
This barely made the news.
“We don’t know how to be proud of the things in which we are strong and which could be used to build the Finnish brand,” says Senior Researcher Marko Lehti from the University of Tampere.
The Failed States Index measures political, economic and social indicators in the world’s nations. Somalia fared the worst. Finland’s neighbours Sweden and Denmark were the other two countries in the top three.
Finland and the other Nordic countries also have a good reputation in conflict solving and peace mediation. The Master’s Programme in Peace, Mediation and Conflict Research (PEACE) – organised by the University of Tampere and Åbo Akademi University – brings more know-how to the field.
A multidisciplinary approach
Lehti, director of the PEACE Programme, says that expanding the Finnish peace mediation activities has been on the agenda of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs for the past couple of years, with the intention of making peace mediation a Finnish export.
“The Finnish tradition of peace mediation was not very strong before Martti Ahtisaari. The Master’s Programme supports the know-how in this area,” Lehti says.
The curriculum of the PEACE Programme offers an academic and multidisciplinary perspective of peace and conflicts.
Practical mediation skills are not taught in the programme. However, people who know the arena of peace mediation are invited to lecture in the courses.
“As researchers we are academically critical, but we also need lecturers who have actually worked in crisis management and peace building. Hopefully this is the right avenue for finding traineeships and making the field known to the students.”
Tough competition over students
PEACE was a popular programme. About 500 applicants from all over the world applied, 350 of them to study at the University of Tampere. 18 students started their studies at Tampere in the autumn of 2012.
“We have never before had such good applicants in any Master’s programmes where I have been involved. I believe that there is a wider interest in the issues we raise, i.e. the questions of conflicts and peace, both internationally and nationally,” Lehti says.
Competition over good students is tough. According to Lehti, the University needs more high-quality international Master’s degree programmes.
“Nowadays, one basis of calculating how much money the University gets is the number of international students, and the only way to attract them is to offer interesting Master’s degree programmes in English.”
The Peace Programme will continue in autumn 2013.
- The Master’s Programme in Peace, Mediation and Conflict Research is a two-year programme taught in English
- The programme is offered in collaboration between the University of Tampere and the Åbo Akademi University in Vaasa and students are admitted at both Vaasa and Tampere.
- The new application period for the Master’s Programme starts in December 2012.
- The programme is coordinated by TAPRI, the Tampere Peace Research Institute.
Original text Tiina Lankinen
Photographs Teemu Launis
Translation Laura Tohka