Towards Well-being and Internationality?

Well-being is not just the opposite of ill-being; it is a broader and more intricate whole, even individually varied. The Vision 2030 outlines the strengthening of communal well-being as a goal, but things may be less fun when performance management turns up the heat. But we would be lost without lofty goals. Even though the world does not get better through singing the Beatles, clarifying our values and repeating the message are effective ways of affecting decision-making through the mood. In my own research group we have found that ultimately, repetition may be the key to taking shape and to learning new things. This is why it is important that we shout this thesis from the rooftops in the spirit of the Vision – something may change.

Would elephant ball tournaments, trips to the theatre or a hefty salary increase be the keys to happiness? Doing things together undoubtedly has its place, it is difficult to build communality without contact to others, but spectacles are not always needed. Rather, we need time: time for conversation, for thinking things through together and creating. A salary increase would not be an unpleasant idea, but the phrases circling around us do not raise expectations very high – in addition, money does not buy time. Some solutions are cheap, like good management. Management does, of course, require a resource, as it is common to call people these days, but good management does not cost any more than bad management.

Common ground rules, clarity and openness – keys might be found there. When the goal is clear and thought through together, one’s own role has been considered and the proportions are appropriate, each person has a chance to focus on the tasks that behove him or her. All kinds of odds and ends keep coming in, of course, but the work of decreasing their number as well as truly acknowledging their existence should start right away. Without open assessment, it is impossible to see why the burden has grown so large that well-being suffers.

The Vision 2030 listings also include conducting a time management survey, which is indeed an essential tool in verifying what we have long been talking about: that time drains into tasks that have not been defined anywhere, the massive extent of reporting, the weight of writing applications that has grown exponentially – and all of this comes from the pool that is reserved for the highest research-based education.

The by-products of the Vision work, the new funding models of higher education institutions, list the expectations: graduating in the target schedule and particular publication channels. Meaningfulness is one thing, but this is what we produce. But what is missing is sometimes just as important as what exists. What happened to internationalisation, which is crucially important for the entire Finland?

In universities, internationalisation is so deeply rooted in everyday life that one would think it would be safe. But if some activity does not improve funding, that activity may be viewed as secondary. Moreover, this is more about the message: what is expected of us? The science community is global, many broad questions unite researchers from different countries, answers can be found through collaboration. I send my greetings from California, UC Davis and UC San Diego. I am here to do research collaboration, to learn from colleagues and partners. Regardless of the funding model, there needs to be time for this: for new perspectives and for the boundlessness of doing science.

I wish you all pleasant summer weather and a well-deserved break from work!

Maija S. Peltola
Chair, The Finnish Union of University Researchers and Teachers

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