The Nordic Summer University has received a Nordplus Horizontal grant of 33.000 € for the project “The Nordic Summer University: Sharing and Developing Experience of 70 Years of Democratic Education”. We are looking forward to meeting in person again in Winter/Spring 2022 and are looking forward to interesting discussions and an exciting NSU Winter Symposia 2022.
The Nordic Summer University is an organisation led by volunteers. Each study circle is led by two or three leaders in their respective fields, who for three years commit to organise symposia in the Nordic and Baltic region (and beyond!) around one specific interdisciplinary topic. With this grant, in addition to the voluntary work put in by the study circle coordinators and NSU board members, several study circles will be able to fund participants and cover other costs involved with organising these symposia.
We’re pleased to let you know that the 2020 NSU Annual Report, plus the Financial Annual Report, can now be found on the website: https://www.nsuweb.org/organisation/nsu-board/annual-report-2020/
Despite the worldwide crisis, NSU has had a wonderful year, connecting to a lot of new and old participants. Almost all circles were able to continue its work, and the Board would like to thank all the participants, coordinators and other volunteers for their continued support and work to make NSU into the space it is – a place to meet new ideas, new collaborators and new possibilities.
Looking forward to all the winter symposia that will take place in the coming month(s)!
Ever since its start in 1950, the Nordic Summer University (NSU) has brought together people from natural sciences, humanities and social science — simply because innovation in thinking and action works best when getting inspiration from beyond your own field. NSU is not a regular university in that sense, nor does it aim to be. It focusses on being a seeding ground, bringing together people from various backgrounds both in and outside of academia. To think, to experiment in thinking, and to forge collaborations that prove fruitful for very many years.
Just like the humanities, the Nordic Summer University is facing terrible cuts in funding. As an organisation run completely by volunteers, funders are very important to keep the organisation and its main activities afloat: nine different study circles with each its own interdisciplinary topic each organise two symposia per year. One during the winter months (February and March) and the nine symposia are organised collaboratively during the summer with parallel programs in one physical location to encourage collaboration and meeting between the different groups.
Unfortunately, after many years of support, the Nordic Council of Ministers has stopped all of its support to NSU in 2021. That is why NSU is actively looking for new collaborator who are interested in keeping this Nordic collaboration in business. NSU brings in a lot of networks, experience and capable people. But in order to continue our practise of supporting the unemployed, single parent researchers and people from remote areas in the Nordic and Baltic regions with scholarships and travel grants, NSU would like to find long-term collaborative partners that would like to support NSU’s mission:
“NSU’s main objectives are to support the development of emerging research initiatives and communities by fostering scholarly networks engaged in multidisciplinary enquiries, and to provide a space for conversations and exchange of ideas between diverse members of the Nordic-Baltic regions.” (source: NSU statutes)
Which is why we find it heart-warming to read that there is a new plan to support the humanities in Norway and the Nordics. NSU is looking forward to collaboration.
“The University of Oslo has presented an ambitious and unprecedented action plan for the humanities towards 2030 – the first such plan ever – in response to the Norwegian government’s call in 2017 for higher education institutions to strengthen their work with the humanities.” Source: University World News
Even though the preparation for the Winter Symposia, which will all take place in February-March, are still going on, we can already let you know the following about the 2021 Summer Session!
The Board, together with the coordinators of the study circles, looked at the possibilities in connection to the pandemic situation. It is very hard to predict what the opportunities are coming summer, but it is very probable that it will be hard to travel between countries. Even if some countries allow international travel, it is very uncertain enough people would be willing to risk this and come to Norway. Also, organising a meeting with 200 people in Covid-times will be a challenge with current restrictions and precautions in place.
Therefore, we have decided the following:
The summer session will be held online from1-7 August 2021. in the whole month of October 2021! (updated in May 2021)
Opening of the Summer session with regional meetings (over zoom) and panel discussions: 1 October 2021
17 October 2021 – General Assembly Part 1
30 October 2021 – General Assembly Part 2
(Joint events will take place in the afternoon/evening (CET) to accommodate people from all over the Nordic region.)
Find call for papers and participation on each study circle’s page on the NSU website.
More information will follow, but please keep these dates in mind.
Last weekend the coordinators of the study circles of the Nordic Summer University met, to discuss the ongoing plans for the Winter Symposia, and to make first plans for the Summer Session this year.
Also the keys of NSU were passed on from the departing 2020 Chair Inta Balode (Latvia) to the new Chair for 2021 Nicole des Bouvrie (International). With many thanks to the hard work of both Inta and the other members of the Board last year, and fortunately Inta is taking on the new responsibility of treasurer to support Nicole and the rest of the Board in the tasks ahead.
Upcoming Winter Symposia:
Circle 9 will hold a small gathering in Turku, but the symposium will be mostly online, 17 to 19 March 2021, in collaboration with circle 4. Topic: Comics in the Nordic Region
Circle 8 will have an online symposium from 26 to 28 March 2021. Planned are 4 keynotes and 14 presentations. Topic: Education and Nature as the Other in the Anthropocene
Circle 7: There will be several evenings in March with programme, as well as a physical event in Helsinki in May 2021, a meeting outdoors if not inside. Also, a reading group is starting. Topic of the Winter Symposium: Presence.
Circle 6: Winter Symposium with 18 presentations and 2 keynotes. Mid-march, still thinking about physical event in Turku. So this will probably be a hybrid event, both online and offline. Topic: Is there a need for a new, a Nordic, environmental ethic?
Circle 5 will organise an online Winter Symposium from 17 to 19 March 2021. However, IF possible, there will be some meeting in Denmark with local people. There will be presentations of 14 papers during three afternoons, even though more applied. Topic: Racialized Encounters.
Circle 4. There will be a couple of sessions per day during their online Winter Symposium that will be held from 16 to 19 March 2021 and on 28 to 31 in Paris (also online, in collaboration with the American University there). There were many applications but they had to reject some to come to a manageable amount. Topic: Narrating Violence: Making Race, Making Difference.
Circle 3. With around 30 participants, many from the writing community and reading groups that were established during last summer session, but also new people. The Winter Symposium will take place from 6 to 8 March, online, with two evening events in Turku (Finland) and Tallinn (Estonia) for local people to join. Topic: Home & Exile.
Circle 2 is working on the publication and collaborative writing project that will take place over three sessions during March. Around 15 participants were accepted. It will be a completely online event on March 6, 18-19 and 30-31. Topic: Far Futures Archeology: collaborative excavations. Writing workshop and publication project.
Circle 1 will host a Winter Symposium from 27 to 28 March 2021. There are 10 minute presentations and time for discussions with around 15 people. Topic: The Urban Everyday Life.
For more information, see the information from each circle. Hoping to see you during one of the events!
During the Summer Session 2020, study circle 3 started two reading groups. One of the groups had their last meeting this week… although it is not really their last meeting. But: the book they have been reading is finished.
Eight participants together read ‘Revolutionary Time: On Time and Difference in Kristeva and Irigaray’ by Fanny Söderbäck over the last couple of months. Diving into the question of change. The first and the last meeting was together with the author of the book, who was very generous in her explanations, helping us to make sense of the manifold topics that come up in the book. We particularly talked a lot about Kristeva’s understanding of chora, about Irigaray’s reading of Plato, and about how to enact ‘revolutionary time’ in our own lives: as readers, as writers, as researchers, as women, as feminists.
Fanny Söderbäck shows in her book that there are mostly two different ways in which time is thought and judged. Not just time, but concepts of change, what it means to be human, what is good – all are linked in these two modes of time: linear time versus cyclical time. Söderbäck offers a third mode, revolutionary time. ‘Revolution’ not in the sense of breaking from what was before and doing something completely new – which would be a naïve understanding of time, a linear understanding, which is not about change but rather about repeating the same over and over. No, revolution in the sense of the waves of the sea, of re-volute, of the movement of return that is not repetition. A concept that brings up a lot of questions and concerns, and it has been very rewarding to think and talk about this in detail for several months. (See also this interview with the author on the ‘New Books Network’.)
The group is aiming to start a writing project based on our experience, which we will inform you about later.
Also, after the coming Winter Symposium of Study Circle 3, we will continue with a new book in feminist philosophy. In case you’re interested in joining, please write to: firstname.lastname@example.org — no previous knowledge of feminist philosophy is required. We meet for two hours, once every two weeks on Zoom.
A special journal issue of ‘Approaching Religion’ was published by the study circle on ‘Hospitality and Solidarity: Feminist Philosophy in Thought, History and Action’. All participants to the Winter Symposium 2020 organised by Nordic Summer University’s Study Circle 3 were invited to contribute an article, reflection on the symposium, or a book review. Edited by Laura Hellsten and Nicole des Bouvrie, the coordinators of the study circle, who are very happy with the result, which is published open access, so all articles – including the opening editorial – are free to read online.
In the words of Hellsten and des Bouvrie:
How to think hospitality in a secular age? The study circle on hospitality and solidarity, ‘Feminist Philosophy in Thought, History and Action’, which is part of the Nordic Summer University (NSU) organised a winter symposium in March 2020 in Turku/Åbo, Finland. The symposium was arranged in collaboration with the Donner Institute and cofunded by both the Polin Institute and Åbo Akademi University. The goal was to bring together students and scholars from diverse educational and geographical backgrounds to explore the question of hospitality in a contemporary setting. Taking into consideration religious and philosophical perspectives, while also being grounded in the complex reality of today, participants exchanged thoughts and ideas over four days. What resulted was, in the words of one of the participants, ‘hours of learning, mutual study and exploration’ (Izraeli, this issue). Essential to the evolution of these discussions was not only the space provided for them by the partnering institutions, but also the fact that we were able to eat and walk and breathe within and through the framework of hospitality (Barroso, this issue).
Between the joint dinners around Turku/Åbo and the accommodation facilities provided by the Bridgettine nuns of the convent, a new sphere of exploring how hospitality can be sensed and experienced was added to the layers provided by the thoughts and writings we shared.
This NSU study circle is in itself a practice of hospitality and solidarity. As coordinators we attempt to create a space in which content and form align. Thought does not happen in a void, but in the space between people. Allowing for the vulnerability that is part of that encounter, it is possible to open up a question for everyone to partake of and to give to. Giving, in the sense described by Marcel Mauss (‘Essai sur le don: forme et raison de l’échange dans les sociétés archaïques’, 1925), as that practice that gives away a part of one’s self in order to receive back something that becomes part of the new self. What one takes from the symposia organised by the study circle is a sense of community – of thinking together and furthering one’s own thought in solidarity with the thoughts of others. Even though it remains impossible to think for another, there is a new sense of belonging. Not because one agrees with what is said, but because things can be said, because things don’t need to be said.
We miss Karin. Karin did a lot for NSU, and most recently she put together and made the design for our new homepage: nordic.university. As the small working group for the new site diminished rapidly after the Iceland session, she singlehanded took the leadership to develop something NSU probably could not survived without. One of the key issues that have been in the spotlight for NSU, both in the external evaluation but also internally, have been and still is the homepage.