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RESEARCH AND EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES IN THE NORDIC REGION Earl H. Fry, Professor of Political Science Brigham Young University and Fulbright Bicentennial.

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Presentation on theme: "RESEARCH AND EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES IN THE NORDIC REGION Earl H. Fry, Professor of Political Science Brigham Young University and Fulbright Bicentennial."— Presentation transcript:

1 RESEARCH AND EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES IN THE NORDIC REGION Earl H. Fry, Professor of Political Science Brigham Young University and Fulbright Bicentennial Chair in American Studies University of Helsinki 2011-2012 Presentation at the Destination Europe Conference San Francisco December 6, 2012


3 Why Did I Select Finland? Perfect fit with the needs of the University of Helsinkithe North American Studies program was looking for an expert in North American StudiesI am a political scientist but also an endowed professor in Canadian Studies and have, in addition, done significant work on NAFTA and Mexico It was a very nice fit for my own research agenda as I will discuss shortly. Initially, my preference was geared toward France because I have lived there off and on for 4 years, taught at the Sorbonne for a year, and speak French. However, the fit with host universities was not as good.

4 How Is Finland Different than the U.S.? Relatively large country geographically with a population of 5.4 million. Indeed the entire population of the Nordic countries (26 million) is 2/3rds the population of California (almost 38 million) The overall distribution of wealth and income is far different than the U.S.Finns are from Lake Wobegonall above average

5 Finnish society is much more homogeneous – 3.8% foreign born vs. 12.5% in US & 12.9% OECD – Officially bilingual with 91.5% speaking Finnish as a first language and 5.5% Swedish – 82% Lutheran although religiosity much lower than in U.S. Over 80% of Finns are urbanized and roughly one-quarter of the entire country lives in the greater Helsinki metropolitan area

6 Daylight is much more noticeable in this northern outpost. Helsinki is in southern Finland but on this date, December 6, the sun came up at 9:07 a.m. and set at 3:16 p.m. However, next June 21, the sun will come up at 3:54 a.m. and set at 10:50 p.m. (mid- summer period) Snow is also very important physically and psychologically I am a San Franciscan by birth but Markku Henriksson came me sage advice on my arrival about living in Finland

7 Unlike the United States, Finland developed as a society in a much more challenging regional environment – Swedish legacy – Russian legacy – WWI – WWII (cold beets story) – Cold War period – Current periodEU and Eurozone

8 Life in General in Finland My wife and I loved living in the center of Helsinkicultural opportunities are plentiful and varied The Finns tend to be reserved but are very decent and very honestwe were treated extremely well The university classroom situation has much in common with the U.S. and students do ask questions. They take personal responsibility for the quality of their work and do not make excuses. The classroom dynamic is made even more interesting by the Erasmus student program

9 UN HDI Rankings, 2011 (187 Countries) Norway #1 Sweden #10 Iceland #14 Denmark #16 Finland #22

10 Research in Finland Finland has excellent research facilities and great linkages to the other Nordic countries and other parts of Europe Many collaborative projects use English as the first language Internet speeds tend to be much faster and cheaper than in the United States


12 resources environment energy conflict weapons proliferation crime economics cyberspace immigration religion and ideology culture INTERNATIONAL EVENTS ARE TRANSFORMING LIFE IN NORTH AMERICA INTERNATIONAL SECTOR NORTH AMERICAN CITIES & NEIGHBORHOODS terrorism sports and entertainment disease If U.S. States Were Nations 2011 © 2012 Earl Fry

13 My Research Project


15 WHY THE UNITED STATES IS PERHAPS A SUPERPOWER IN RELATIVE DECLINE (1) The rise of competitor nations and groups of nations (China, EU, etc.); BRICs; few decades ago, China and India considered peripheral players in global economyrepresent collectively almost 36% of humanity (2) The potent combination of (a) globalization; (b) unprecedented technology change; and (c) creative destruction; 2008-627,000 businesses created and 665,000 lost; 200925.1 million jobs created, 30.6 million lost (out of total of 154 million civilian labor force 16 years +); March 2011civilian labor participation rate 64.2%--lowest since 1984 (3) 15 major fault lines within the United States

16 AMERICAS 15 DOMESTIC FAULTLINES Beltway Follies Campaign Financing Government Debt External Debt and Dwindling Importance of the U.S. Dollar Entitlement Explosion Health Care Education Plight of the American Household The New Gilded Age and Wall Streets Debacle Infrastructure Deterioration Intergenerational Strife and Festering Cleavages Immigration and the Failure to Attract the Best and the Brightest Federalism General Apathy and a Paucity of Civic Engagement U.S. Foreign Policy


18 Wide Diversity of Research and Scholarly Activities My experience serving on Fulbright advisory committees dealing with young Finn scholars coming to the U.S. and senior American scholars going to Finland Research proposals tend to cover the spectrum from liberal and fine arts, STEM topics, social sciences, etc. Importance of making preliminary contacts with counterparts in Finland or other Nordic countries before submitting Fulbright applications or other types of grant proposals The challenge of trans-Atlantic drift and global shiftit can be confronted successfully

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