Nordic Summer University: Critical thinking is important today, just as it was 65 years agop

Nordic Summer University: Critical thinking is important today, just as it was 65 years ago

Critical thinking was important 65 years ago when the Nordic Summer University was founded, and it is equally important now, said participants of the Nordic Summer University (NSU).

More than 160 professors and doctoral students from all the Nordic and Baltic countries as well as Great Britain, Canada, and Australia gathered in Druskininkai on July 18-25. They're there for the 65 years-running Nordic Summer University now organized for the first time Lithuania.

The main organizer of this year's summer session is European Humanities University (EHU).

"We live in safe Scandinavian societies and we do not realize that such close neighbors as the Baltic countries live so differently. So we thought that would be very interesting to organize an NSU session in Lithuania. In the past we had a successful joint project with European Humanities University and we are interested in the unique destiny of this Belarusian university operating in Lithuania. This led to the appeal to EHU as the organizer from Lithuania," said NSU board members.

NSU creates a space for lively and dynamic academic and intellectual debate; it is a long-term thinking body with various international delivery approaches as well as new forms of adaptation of thinking to solve societal problems.

"When Nordic Summer University was founded 65 years ago, there was a need for a forum to eliminate boundaries both academic and geographical. Nowadays, this need has not decreased in the face of geopolitical changes: the opportunity for cooperation is very important to us. We aim to encourage critical thinking.  The university is constantly innovating, those of us here share ideas and test our arguments, which is why after 65 years people still need us," said the Norwegian leader of NSU, Per Roar.

The former leader of NSU, Carsten Friberg from Denmark, said that once the Nordic Summer University led to the creation of an environment that put more and more pressure on academics.

"The situation was such that there had to be more and more classes, more exams, more bureaucracy, and other proof that you're being effective, and it really just reduces your effectiveness. And then you're left with little time for actual research.  We wanted a common area with our colleagues from other scientific areas so that we could get out of academic everyday life, and we created such a space," recalled Friberg.

Nordic Summer University simultaneously organizes 9 research groups, each of which is around for three years. At the end of one research group, ideas are discussed and arguments are verified and usually put together in books and anthologies. Various educational institutions send relevant proposals for the NSU science-themed groups to follow.

"Starting this year, at the initiative of European Humanities University, a human rights and international relations research group will be organized by Nordic Summer University.  EHU students collaborate issuing the Nordic Summer University daily paper which includes video footage and scientific discussions," said one of the organizers, Olga Breskaya, Head of the EHU Research Division.

The Nordic Council of Ministers is the main funder of NSU. University board members revealed that the university will have to look for new sources of finance, because politicians have decided to cut funding, saying that NSU is not effective, because "we are too democratic, innovative, and we create collaborative networks."

The NSU leader emphasized, “I believe that NSU will overcome this crisis and rise like a phoenix. The crisis is not a pleasant thing, but it's the perfect time to rethink what is most important. The Nordic countries are also experiencing a crisis, but it is not as noticeable as in Greece: we still have our money," lectured Roar, presented the SAVE NSU campaign.

Co-financed by:European Commission