Professorship and discipline of Ethnology are under threat at the University of Turku


The University of Turku (Finland) plans to abolish the professorship of European Ethnology when the current professor Helena Ruotsala retires. This will not only affect the teaching of ethnology at the University of Turku, but will mean a significant weakening of the discipline and humanities at the national level. Ethnology is a major field of humanities in European universities. This professorship is vital, because in Finland, there is a professorship in only four universities, and one of these is currently unfilled. Finland has several sector-specific positions of trust in scientific associations, publication forums, funds and organisations. If the training of ethnologists reduces, the multiplier effect will be considerable.  

The professorship of European ethnology has been at the University of Turku since 1960. In addition to the professor, there is currently one university teacher in the department. European ethnology is a popular major as well as a minor, and there are as many as 22 active postgraduate students. The end of the professorship endangers the legal security of our postgraduate students, but also the future of the scientific community at national level. The planned abolition of the professorship of European Ethnology will also have a direct impact on our undergraduate students, as it will reduce ethnology teaching, stop advanced ethnology studies and master’s guidance.  

Universities are currently emphasising the acquisition of external funding. In autumn 2022, European ethnology at the University of Turku acquired a total of EUR 511 700 for research projects. The Ministry of Education finances Nuoperi, which focuses on documenting youth work with EUR 140 000 per year. These outcomes reflect not only the high quality of research, but also the high impact both socially and locally. The alumni of European ethnology include museum leaders, and leaders of the associations, immigrant workers etc. These professionals affect society on multiple levels. Ethnologist is an expert in everyday life, a humanist who creates and promotes cultural understanding and a sustainable future. In the present world situation, this valuable know-how cannot be lost.

Help us save the professorship of European ethnology in Turku! Thank you!

You can find the petition here: