Finnish culture has been about sauna, viina, tar, pesäpallo, ice hockey, salty liquorice, cross-country skiing, difficult language and Sibelius. A Finnish man with linen clothes might have come from working in the field the whole day, hit his puukko to the wooden table and started eating mämmi and rye-bread.
My conception of “Finnish culture” now (whatever it may be especially after today’s lesson) is a little different. However, (partly following Bruno Latour here)it is basically real for me because it is, at least partly, my own view, my idea of the word just now and I often try to believe in me (even if I really don’t). It takes a little effort to change my view as well as the one of others.
Digital teaching and research tools have changed university work immensely. For example E-mails, databanks, Google Scholar and newer things such as tweets and Facebook and WhatsApp have increased or may increase the potential for sharing information in unprecedented ways.
But what makes a university? University as an institution has been here before us and it will be here after us. In my view university is not just knowledge but also the community: people and context. In Finland the university community is in a way quite close; for example teachers are often quite accessible and help can be asked. Still we need to encourage face-to-face communication, debate and own effort to explore the unknown.