Political science at the University of Tampere

Mikko Vesterinen, doctoral researcher, University of Tampere

Political research at the city of Tampere has long traditions starting from 1925 at the School of Social Sciences (SSS), which was a predecessor for University of Tampere. Yrjö Ruutu (PhD) was an only permanent lecturer at the newly founded school wherein he worked for two decades until the year of 1945. The emphasis of teachings during 1920-1930s were history of ideas and science, and abreast with the main two was the so called energetic societal view which was developed by Ruutu himself. International relations became an independent academic subject in 1944. The year later academic chairs of international relations and political science were founded in Tampere for the first time. The history of the modern type department for political science may be seen as begun in 1966, when the SSS turned to the University of Tampere. 

The transformation to the University of Tampere meant changes to political science: the staff was doubled and the differences between the academic subjects of political science and international relations became even clearer. This led to regard the subjects as separate programmes, and the cooperation between these academic subjects was integral: for example the basic course was first shared. The department of political science grew steadily after the establishment, even-though it had to move physically to different locations several times during the years. The research institute for peace and conflict was established in 1970 in Tampere, which reflected the fashion of that time. Paavo Hoikko (Doctor of Social Science) further broadened the domain of the institute in 1974, because he had expertise in local politics and administration. Therefore it was possible to study political science from local municipal level all the way to international level in the 1970s. The life of the institute became established as fixed channels from 1975’s autumn term onwards. 

Phenomena of the decades influenced the development of political science in Finland, while the academic subject still pertained to some of its core features regardless of foreign influences. The decade of the 1980s might be called the era of internationalization, since the amount of foreign students grew in the department. In consequence of the internationalization the International School of Social Science (ISS) became established. The ISS offered to complete the whole degree for all students of the faculty, and the school also became a considerable teaching unit in the city of Tampere. It was also reportedly the first unit to provide higher education in English for foreign students, in the whole country. 

The research of information technology increased in the 1990s, which marked the decade as the Internet decade. The Soviet Union collapsed during the 1990s, which as a factor also reflected the demands of the studies of the 1990s. As a consequence the study modules became stripped off the modules  which examined socialist systems and in dissertations the interest in Estonia grew.

The 21st century was reflected by the changes not in the department, but in the university of Tampere itself. In 2006 the university moved to new premises close to the main building of the university. Soon at the beginning of 2010 the large structural change was made: Political science became part of a Faculty of Management, which was a multi – and interdisciplinary institution. The decision was made by the government of the university. In 2019, Tampere University of Technology and University of Tampere were merged, and as a consequence the structural changes were made again, but the political science remained where it was. Now the academic subject of political science became part of the newly named ‘Faculty of Management and Business’, when faculties were taken back to use. 

There is a book about the department of political science which was written in 2011 and which came published as a the history by Olavi Borg (Ruudusta Raunioon). The book also inspired this text.