Conference “Estonia AND the Nordic countries—Estonia AS a Nordic country?”
23.08.2016 in Kumu Auditorium (Weizenbergi 34 / Valge 1, Tallinn)
The conference will be organized by the University of Tartu Centre for Ethics.
Cooperating partners: Nordic Council of Ministers, Embassy of Norway, Embassy of Sweden, Embassy of Denmark, Embassy of Finland, Ministry of Education and Research, Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The conference marks the 25th anniversary of the Restoration of the independence of Estonia. Its main goal is to reflect on the past and present developments of the Estonian identity and values, as well as to discuss different visions for its future. This will be done from the perspective of Estonian supposed connectedness with the Nordic region and a popular belief that Estonia should be regarded as one of the Nordic countries.
Some of the main questions that will be discussed at the conference include:
- Why has the national narrative of Estonia being part of the Nordic region been so popular and persistent over time? What is the historical and intellectual background of this idea?
- What is the prevalent understanding of the Nordic values and Nordic identity in Estonia? Does it differ from the dominant images shared by Scandinavians?
- What do sociological surveys (e.g. the World Values Survey) show about the similarities and differences between the Estonian and Nordic values, as well as about the differences among the countries that are traditionally regarded Nordic? How can we explain the differences in the patterns of values (e.g., by means of different histories, different political traditions, different levels of social welfare)? Can we, overall, talk about a uniform Nordic values system?
- Would the pursuit to become closer to the Nordic societies also require adopting the Nordic values? What kind of political, social and cultural changes would it mean?
- Is there something in the specific Estonian experience that could be valuable and inspiring for the Nordic societies?
These significant issues will be reflected on and discussed by various distinguished academics and public thinkers from Scandinavia and Estonia. The conference will help to conceptualize the past, present and future of the Estonian and Nordic values as well as to further the discussion on the concept of the Nordic countries and the connectedness of the Baltic-Nordic region.
The conference is preceded by the essay and photography competition “Estonia AND the Nordic Countries – Estonia AS a Nordic Country?”. The winners of the awards will be announced at the conference.
We welcome opinion leaders, public commentators, journalists, representatives of academic circles, educators, members of parliament, ministers, representatives of embassies, representatives of societies and non-profit organizations, cultural workers, translators etc.
The conference belongs to the Centre for Ethics conference series „Seeking and Keeping our Common Values“, the goal of which is to promote discussion on topics related to ethics and values. Conference series is supported by the National Programme “Values Development in Estonian Society 2009–2013” for the years 2015–2020 which is funded by the Ministry of Education and Research.
Tuesday, 23 August 2016, Kumu Auditorium, Tallinn
9.15 – 10.00 Registration, coffee.
10.00 – 10.10 Opening by Prof. Margit Sutrop, Head of the Centre for Ethics, University of Tartu.
10.10 – 10.35 Welcome notes from the cooperating partners:
Jürgen Ligi, Minister of Education and Research
Christer Haglund, Director of the Nordic Council of Ministers’ Office in Estonia
10.35 – 10.45 Welcome by Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves.
10.45 – 11.00 Awarding the grand prize of the contest for opinion pieces and photos.
I session. Historical and contemporary perspectives of the Nordic identities.
11.00 – 11.30 Stein Kuhnle (University of Bergen).
What is Norden: Shaping of the Nordic Identity.
11.30 – 12.00 Mart Kuldkepp (University College London).
History of Estonian Nordic Identity.
12.00 – 12.15 Discussion.
12.15 – 13.10 Lunch.
II session. Nordic values in the Nordic societies: Estonia and the Nordic countries on the World Values Map (introduction of the results of the World Values Survey).
13.10 – 13.15 Interlude.
13.15 – 13.45 Bi Puranen (World Values Survey Association, Institute for Futures Studies in Sweden). Similarities and Differences in Values among the Baltic and the Nordic Countries.
13.45 – 14.15 Anu Realo (University of Tartu, University of Warwick). Estonian Values and Nordic Values: 25 Years Later.
14.15 – 14.30 Discussion.
14.30 – 14.55 Coffee break.
III session: Nordic ways of happiness.
14.55 – 15.00 Interlude.
15.00 – 15.30 Meik Wiking (The Happiness Research Institute, World Database of Happiness). The Well-Being of Nations.
15.30 – 15.50 Valdur Mikita (University of Tartu). A writer’s reflections on the Finno-Ugric ways of happiness.
15.50 – 16.05 Discussion.
16.05 - 16.15 Short break.
16.15 – 17.15 Panel discussion. Personal Happiness and Social Well-Being in the Interconnected Nordic-Baltic Region: Political Decisions and Visions for the Future.
Participants: Marina Kaljurand (Minister of Foreign Affairs), Margus Tsahkna (Minister of Social Protection), Jevgeni Ossinovski (Minister of Health and Labour), Professor Marju Lauristin (Member of the European Parliament, University of Tartu), and Professor Mikko Lagespetz (Åbo Akademi University). The panel discussion will be led by Professor Margit Sutrop, the Head of the University of Tartu Centre for Ethics.
17.15 – 19.00 Awarding special prizes of the contest for opinion pieces and photos. Reception in the Kumu foyer.
Centre for Ethics
University of Tartu
liisi.veski [ät] ut.ee
+372 737 5426
Invited speakers and abstracts
Stein Kuhnle (born 1947) received his cand.polit. degree in Comparative Politics at the University of Bergen in 1973. He is Professor of Comparative Politics at University of Bergen since 1982, and was Head of Department for about 14 years during 1983-2005. He is Professor Emeritus at Hertie School of Governance in Berlin, where he was Professor of Comparative Social Policy 2006-2013. He is Honorary Professor at Fudan University, Shanghai; at Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou; at Northwest Normal University, Lanzhou; and at University of Southern Denmark, Odense. He has been a Visiting Professor or Fellow at universities in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, China, and Australia. His major field of research has been comparative studies of welfare state development. Among his many publications can be mentioned: Stein Kuhnle (ed.) Survival of the European Welfare State (London: Routledge, 2000); Nanna Kildal and Stein Kuhnle (eds) Normative Foundations of the Welfare State: The Nordic Experience (London: Routledge, 2005); Stein Kuhnle, Chen Yinzhang, Klaus Petersen and Pauli Kettunen (eds) The Nordic Welfare State (published in Chinese: Shanghai: Fudan University Press, 2010; Japanese edition to be published in 2016).
(See also: http://www.uib.no/en/persons/Stein.Kuhnle)
What is Norden: Shaping of the Nordic identity
The conception of a “Nordic model” or “Nordic welfare model” is of rather recent origin, but its elements can be traced back to the 1930s. The concept is used by many within the Nordic countries and by international media, scholars and commentators. The idea and perception of a specific “Nordic welfare model” is probably the most important contribution to the contemporary construction of a Nordic identity. The talk shall reflect upon and try to answer the following questions: What can be said about Nordic identity in a historical context, and to what extent have the development of the five national Nordic welfare states as well as the creation of institutions of Nordic cooperation since the end of the Second World War been conducive to shaping a common Nordic identity?
Mart Kuldkepp is a lecturer in contemporary Scandinavian history at University College London (UCL). In 2014, he defended at University of Tartu, Department of Scandinavian Studies, his doctoral dissertation on Estonia’s Nordic identity and Swedish-Finnish-Estonian political contacts during World War I. His main research interests include Estonian and Scandinavian political history in the first decades of the 20th century, questions of nationalism and regionalism in the Baltic Sea Region, and the war experience of Estonian servicemen in World War I. He has also been active as a translator of Scandinavian literature into Estonian, mainly from Modern Icelandic and Old Norse.
History of Estonian Nordic Identity
The idea that Estonia belongs among the Nordic countries is an important facet of Estonian nationalism, with roots reaching back to the turn of the 19th-20th century. It likely has two main sources. Firstly, the burgeoning national history writing of the time integrated the popular notion, probably stemming from the 18th century, that the 17th century “good old Swedish time” had been a particularly good period for the Estonian peasantry. Through its positive interpretation of the Swedish era, the Estonian national history paradigm differentiated itself from the Baltic German one: the latter’s Kulturträger-pretensions could be challenged by emphasizing the civilizing role of Sweden. The second important source of Estonia’s Nordic identity was the interpretation of Estonia’s geographical location according to the then-fashionable geopolitical thinking. This indicated that Estonians had suffered under the conflicting great power interests, and the truly beneficial – even if likely utopian – foreign political orientation for them was instead towards Sweden and Finland, separated from Russia. During World War I and especially in its aftermath, attempts were made to put these ideas in practice, but this failed mainly due to the disinterest on part of Sweden. Instead of their desired Baltic League, Estonian politicians had to accept a “balkanized” Baltic Sea Region.
Valdur Mikita is an author and mind-traveller; in the academic year of 2016/2017 he serves as a Visiting Professor of Liberal Arts at the University of Tartu.
Human sense of nature or the mysterious Finno-Ugric constant in the human happiness formula
The talk tries to answer three questions: What is a sense of nature? In what ways might Estonians’ sense of nature differ from that of the other nations? What are the most inspiring characteristics of this sense of nature?
Bi Puranen is Secretary General of the World Values Survey Association and Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Future Studies in Sweden. Her research focuses on health, human security, tolerance and changing values.
Similarities and Differences in Values among the Baltic and the Nordic Countries
In this presentation, similarities and differences among the Baltic and the Nordic countries will be analysed. Estonia is the country with the fastest increase in general trust, according to the World Values Surveys time-series. Today, people’s perception of trust in Estonia is even higher than the average level of perceived trust in Europe. In numbers, the Nordic countries are substantially higher, but the interesting trend is that Estonia is catching up quite rapidly.
The World Justice Programme on open government is rating people’s perceptions of government openness. Sweden is ranked as number one out of 102 countries, and it is interesting to note that Estonia is ranked as highly as number 6. Actually, Estonia is world leading in "Right to Information", but has a long way to go when it comes to civic participation. The World Values Survey data will shed light on the potential of working with norm and value changes for individual countries."
Professor Anu Realo works in the Department of Psychology at the University of Tartu and the University of Warwick. Her major research topics are personality traits, emotions, values and subjective well-being. Her current research also tackles the effects of culture and genes on the development of personality and the associations between health, well-being and personality traits. Anu Realo is the Principal Investigator for the World Values Survey in Estonia and a Member of the Estonian Advisory Board of the European Social Survey. She has more than 120 publications in international journals and edited volumes; she has edited several books in Estonian together with her colleagues.
Estonian values and Nordic values: 25 years later
The talk will examine the changes in the value preferences of the inhabitants of Estonia during the past 25 years, and the position of Estonia on world values map in comparison to the Nordic countries. What did people in Estonia consider important in life at the time when Estonia restored its independence? In what ways has it changed during the past decades? After a quarter of a century of independence, do our values make us a Nordic nation, or rather an ex-soviet Baltic nation, as we are more often perceived by others? What is important to the young Estonians who have lived most of their lives in independent Estonia? Are their values similar to those of their peers in the Nordic countries or rather to the values of the older generation in Estonia? What are the differences between the values of Estonian-speaking and Russian-speaking people and have these differences increased or decreased during the period of independence? These are the major questions the presentation will seek to answer, using the data of the World Values Survey and the European Social Survey.
The speaker is Meik Wiking from Happiness Research Institute which is an independent think tank focusing on life satisfaction, happiness and quality of life. Their mission is to inform decision makers of the causes and effects of human happiness, make subjective well-being part of the public policy debate, and improve the quality of life for citizens across the world. Meik Wiking is CEO of The Happiness Research Institute, Research Associate for Denmark at the World Database of Happiness and Founding member of The Latin American Network for Wellbeing and Quality of Life Policies. He holds degree in business and political science. Meik is currently part of the Top100 list "The Crazy Ones - Business Mavericks who are Changing the World" and his books are translated into 10 languages.
The well-being of nations
Today, leaders from around the world are expressing an interest in why some societies are happier than others. At the same time countries are taking steps to measure their success as a society – not only from how much the economy grows – but also from how much their lives are improved, not only from standard of living, but from quality of life. This is one of the consequences of the recent years’ paradigm shift away from gross domestic product as the dominant indicator for progress. Meanwhile, the Nordic countries do consistently well in the happiness rankings. This presentation will explore how political stakeholders are using happiness as a measure of progress, how we can measure happiness and what the key challenges are - and why the Nordic countries do so well in the global rankings.
Margit Sutrop is the dean of the University of Tartu Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Professor of Practical Philosophy and the Head of the Centre for Ethics. Her current research interests include moral and political philosophy, bioethics, business ethics, aesthetics and philosophy of education.
Marina Kaljurand is Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Estonia. Marina Kaljurand has been the Estonian ambassador to the USA, Mexico, Canada, Kazakhstan, Russia and Israel. She has served as Undersecretary and Director at the Foreign Ministry.
Jevgeni Ossinovski is Minister of Health and Labour of the Republic of Estonia, Chairman of the Social Democratic Party and former Member of Estonian Parliament.
Margus Tsahkna is Minister of Social Protection of the Republic of Estonia, Chariman of the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union (IRL) and former Member of Estonian Parliament.
Marju Lauristin is Member of the European Parliament and Professor of Social Communication at the University of Tartu, former Member of the Estonian Parliament and former Minister of Social Affairs.
Mikko Lagerspetz is a Finnish sociologist who has close contacts with Estonia. He has worked as a professor and a senior researcher at the Estonian Institute of Humanities and later at the University of Tallinn. Since 2006 he has been a professor of Sociology at the Åbo Akademi University. He has published extensively on different issues of Estonian society.