Essay contest “Estonia AND the Nordic Countries – Estonia AS a Nordic Country?” | Ethics in Estonia

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Essay contest “Estonia AND the Nordic Countries – Estonia AS a Nordic Country?”

Centre for Ethics of the University of Tartu, in cooperation with the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research, the Nordic Council of Ministers, College of Foreign Languages and Cultures of the University of Tartu and the Office of the President of the Republic of Estonia, announces the essay and photography contest “Estonia AND the Nordic Countries – Estonia AS a Nordic Country?”

The patron of the contest is President of the Republic of Estonia Toomas Hendrik Ilves.

Take part in the essay and photography contest to reflect on the developments in Estonia during the past 25 years and look to the future: where are we now as a society and in which direction do we want to go?

The grand prize of the essay contest (adults) is a travel to Oslo and invitation to the Nobel Peace Prize Award Ceremony. The grand prize is provided by the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Estonia.

The authors of the best essays and photographs will receive awards provided by the Office of the President of the Republic of Estonia, Ministry of Education and Research, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Embassy of Sweden, Embassy of Denmark, University of Tartu, UT College of Foreign Languages and Cultures, UT Centre for Ethics, publishing houses Ilmamaa, Varrak and EKSA, the University of Tartu Press and the daily paper Postimees.

The authors of the best essays and photographs will be invited to the international conference on Nordic values on August 23, 2016 in Tallinn. The President of the Republic of Estonia will award the winners at the conference.

Postimees is the media partner for the essay contest and the best submissions will be published in Postimees.

This year marks 25 years since Estonia became independent once again. Estonia has made remarkable strides. We are cited as an example of innovativeness and the accomplishment of rapid reforms; we have trustful partnerships both in Europe and elsewhere in the world. But how much change has there been in our values? Have we become more like a Nordic country in 25 years or have we drifted further away from the Nordic values?

The idea of the connection between Estonians and Estonian culture and the Nordic countries is woven deeply into Estonian intellectual history. In the interwar period, many educated Estonians regarded the Nordic orientation as an alternative to countries that had been its primary influences – Russia and Germany. The Scandinavian countries and Finland were considered close enough to reach, while also sufficiently developed to constitute a goal toward which one could aspire politically, economically, and culturally.

Also after the restoration of independence the Estonian politicians have emphasised that Estonia mentally belongs to the Nordic countries.

“I understand Scandinavia, and I believe that in the eyes of Estonians, Scandinavian solutions correspond to a great extent to things as they should be. A well-functioning, clean state. Technologically developed, safe, free of corruption, in other words – Nordic. /…/ Scandinavian countries differ among themselves, too, while also having something in common.” (Toomas Hendrik Ilves, 1998.)

It seems that the time has come to think over how far we actually are today from the goal to become a Nordic country. What is similar and what is different in Estonia and in a Nordic country? What are those Nordic values that we consider important? What are our own values, those that we will never relinquish, whatever the price, and that we might introduce to others?

What to write about?

We are eager to accept essays in which the writer reflects on the values zone of Estonia and Nordic countries or shares his/her personal experience and point of view with regard to life in Estonia compared to one of the Nordic countries. We welcome submissions from all Estonians who have experience with respect to living, working, studying or travelling in the Nordic countries, as well as citizens of Nordic countries who live or have lived in Estonia.

We are looking for both specific descriptions of different values and practices, as well as reflections on one’s own experience. One can choose one or several aspects, such as studying in school, vocational school, or university; raising children, gender roles for men and women both at work and at home, attitudes toward the representatives of different fields (attitude toward vocational education); attitudes toward elderly people and people with disabilities, cultural minorities, refugees; charity, cooperative activities, workfests. One might also compare traditions and festivals, for example weddings, baptisms, and births, or funerals; intergenerational relationships, or relations with neighbours; use of alcohol; prevention of violence; the culture of leadership and organizations; going to the theatre or the cinema, journalism, politics, investment, business practice, and the use of information technology, as well as freedom of speech and attitudes toward public space. 

Terms and Conditions

1.  Length: 3000–9000 characters (without spaces, i.e. 1.5–5 pages).

2. Please send your essay to e-mail address eetika [ät] eetika.ee or by postal mail to Jakobi 2, Tartu 51014.

3. Deadline: we expect the essays during May, latest on 10th of June 2016.

4. Languages: Estonian, Norwegian, Finnish, Danish, Swedish, Icelandic, English, Russian. 

5. Awards: schoolchildren and adults will be awarded in separate categories.

6. The winners will be announced and awards given on 23rd of August 2016 in Tallinn at the conference on Nordic values held after the 25th anniversary of restoration of independence of Estonia.

Judging

The submissions will be judged anonymously according to the following criteria:

·         Clear train of thought

·         Captivating presentation

·         Originality

Awarding

• The grand prize of the essay contest is a travel to Oslo and invitation to the Nobel Peace Prize Award Ceremony. The grand prize is provided by the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Estonia.

• The authors of the best essays will be invited to the international conference on Nordic values on August 23, 2016 in Tallinn. The President of the Republic of Estonia will award the winners at the conference.

• Special prizes for the best writers and photographers have been put up by the Office of the President of the Republic of Estonia, Ministry of Education and Research, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Embassy of Sweden, Embassy of Denmark, University of Tartu, UT College of Foreign Languages and Cultures, UT Centre for Ethics, publishing houses Ilmamaa, Varrak and EKSA, the University of Tartu Press and the daily paper Postimees.

• The best submissions will be published as a book. Every participant will receive a signed photograph of the President of Estonia. A selection of the best submissions will be published in the newspaper Postimees in August. Postimees will also provide a special prize.

• All of the most interesting essays (if desired, anonymously) and the results of the essay contest will be posted on the Ethics Web www.eetika.ee.