It’s dark. It’s cold. It’s Finland. On a brisk foggy autumn morning, we find three viking travelers disembarking their vessel to continue their journey on land. They have made their way here today to discuss the terms of an agreement with neighboring tribes. Upon reaching the discussion grounds, they are greeted by leaders from four other tribes, from Norway, Denmark, and eastern and western Finland. Their location; Turku. Their goals; to establish stronger international exchange and joint study programs within the context of Biomedical masters education.
And so there we were, in a conference room with representatives from University of Bergen, University of Copenhagen, University of Eastern Finland, and the host University of Turku. Over the next two days we were to brainstorm the possible conditions for increased access for students attending these universities to go on exchange studies at other uni’s within the Nordic region. Of particular interest was how this joint program between these 5 schools (the fifth being Karolinska) was to receive funding and how the programs offered between institutions would be structured.
The first day consisted of presentations regarding Erasmus and NordPlus funding options as well as small group work upon which we would present the next day. This is where I came in. Each of the participating institutions had brought with them at least one student currently studying a masters program at that school. It was our charge to come together as students and discuss what it was that students looked for in a higher educational experience. The long story made short was that if there was a collaborative effort made between these schools, then there would have to be some sort of very well organized common portal for students to browse available intensive, semester, or summer courses (in a comprehensive course catalogue), petition for the generation of new courses within a given speciality, and meet fellow students with similar interests to share scientific passion and learn how to build international collaborations themselves. Imagine being able to connect with a bunch of other geeks who think that DTI (diffusion tensor imaging) is really cool. Now imagine being able to act as a group create a demand from one of the participating institutions to create and offer this course to students throughout the geographic region. You and your likely fellow Star Trek fans converge onto the school that offered this program and take a short week long course in which you learn how to operate and analyze DTI studies. Or imagine having a summer program in which This work culminated with the presentation of our thundering mind’s output.
Although these plans were entirely preliminary, this writer is entirely optimistic and stoked that if they come through to fruition, then it could make for a very exciting new opportunity for students. Keep your fingers crossed.