University of Tampere launches the Tampere Research Centre for Russian and Chinese Media

The men and women behind TaRC. Docent Iiris Ruoho (front row left), Professor Arja Rosenholm and Professor Heikki Luostarinen, postdoctoral researcher Dmitri Yagodin (back row left), Professor Ari Heinonen, senior lecturer Aleksandr Zelenin and coordinator Aaro Immonen. Photograph: Jonne Renvall

The men and women behind TaRC. Docent Iiris Ruoho (front row left), Professor Arja Rosenholm and Professor Heikki Luostarinen, postdoctoral researcher Dmitri Yagodin (back row left), Professor Ari Heinonen, senior lecturer Aleksandr Zelenin and coordinator Aaro Immonen. Photograph: Jonne Renvall

The University of Tampere has established a knowledge hub focusing on the study of Russian and Chinese media. Tampere Research Centre for Russian and Chinese Media (TaRC) comprises a network of researchers based at several higher education institutions and research institutes in Russia, China, Finland and the rest of Europe. The Centre will also work closely with media companies and other expert institutions.
TaRC aims to provide expertise in the fields of media and cultural studies and act as a teaching and research resource for Finnish higher education institutions that do not have their own resources in this area.
The growth of Chinese international media and the new role of Russia – with its fraught relations with the European Union – have necessitated increased education and research in the field.

Questions concerning Internet governance and the roles of Russia and China have reignited debate on issues related to the New World Information Order, which was a hot topic in the 1970s and 1980s.

“These countries offer opportunities to study the current status of media systems that are non Western, alternative, or authoritarian, and to look at the role of media in the transformations of the international power structure,” says Heikki Luostarinen, professor of journalism at the University of Tampere.

“The idea is that the knowledge hub will educate specialists on the Russian media who have both Russian language skills and diverse know-how on Russian culture and society from contemporary and historical perspectives,” says Arja Rosenholm, professor of Russian language and culture.

“Understanding the deep structure of culture and the representation of everyday phenomena is also important in understanding political changes. At the same time, it is useful to recognise cross-border and global similarities, and to challenge prevailing stereotypes associated with Russia regarding its ‘diversity’ and enigmatic character,” Rosenholm continues.

“Research on Chinese media and expanding expertise on Chinese society and its special features are a big challenge for TaRC. The same applies to addressing the Centre’s focus issues of environmental questions and gender equality. We will be able to develop our expertise in these matters in joint projects and dialogues with Chinese scholars and media professionals,” explains Docent Iiris Ruoho.

TaRC aims to create a new kind of learning environment and a testing site for university pedagogy by seeking novel methods for open, multilingual and multicultural learning. In its initial stages, TaRC’s activities will focus on environmental journalism and the perspective of gender in the media industry. TaRC plans to organise the first year-round online courses and teaching modules in the 2018–2019 academic year.

TaRC’s invaluable international network includes researchers at the Ural Federal University (Yekaterinburg), Perm State University, Lomonosov Moscow State University, the European University in St Petersburg, the National Research University Higher School of Economics (St Petersburg) and St Petersburg State University in Russia. The Centre’s Chinese partners are based at the Communication University of China (Beijing), Fudan University (Shanghai), Shanghai International Studies University, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Wuhan University and Shandong University. Researchers from the University of Leeds in the UK, the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands, Dalarna University in Sweden and the Free University of Berlin in Germany also participate in the network.

In Finland, nine universities, universities of applied sciences and research institutes are members of the network, including the Universities of Eastern Finland, Helsinki, Jyväskylä, Lapland and Oulu; Tampere and Haaga-Helia Universities of Applied Sciences; and the Finnish Institute of International Affairs. TaRC also cooperates with professional associations, including the Union of Journalists in Finland.