In late March of 2023, the International Relations and Global Politics program at AUR undertook an academic field trip to Helsinki, the capital of Finland. While the trip was long planned, it occurred at a particularly momentous time for Finland as it became the 31st member of NATO. President of the United States, Joe Biden, commented upon the occasion, "Together, strengthened by our newest ally, Finland, we will continue to preserve transatlantic security, defend every inch of Nato territory, and meet any and all challenges we face.”

Professor Irene Caratelli, Director of the International Relations program, led a large and enthusiastic group of students through a rigorous schedule of meetings and presentations designed to illustrate the foreign & domestic policies of Finalnd, the role of NATO, and the current state of geopolitical relationships across Europe and the wider world.

Over the course of the first day in Helsinki, Professor Caratelli led the students through informative and engaging meetings with 

  • Director of the Unit for Security Policy and Crisis Management, Ms. Minna Laajava, at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs (Merikasarmi) 
  • Director Frank Johansson of Amnesty International (Finnish Section)  
  • Director of the Office for NATO Integration, Brigadier General Ms. Karoliina Honkanen, at the Ministry of Defense  
  • Head of International Relations, Mr. Rasmus Hindrén, at the European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats (Hybrid CoE)  

The day culminated in a dinner meeting with Director General Terhi Souminen of the Atlantic Council of Finland.

Day two saw an equally hectic schedule as students were introduced to presentations and meetings with

  • Mr. Otto Turtonen, Asia Team Project Manager at the Martti Ahtisaari Peace Foundation (CMI)
  • Maria Kokkonen, Deputy Head of Representation at the European Commission Representation in Finland Meeting
  • Research Fellow Dr. Iro Särkkä and Head of Strategic Partnerships Dr. Kukka-Maria Kovsky at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs (FIIA)
  • Director of the Global Politics and Communication Programme at the University of Helsinki, Professor Sonja M. Amadae
  • Dr. Nicola Rainò, Director of La Rondine (a magazine of cultural and information exchange between Italy and Finland, founded in Helsinki in 2002).

The university would like to thank everyone who gave their time and extensive knowledge in furtherance of our students' understanding of the issues directly affecting our world today. Opportunities for interaction with professionals and academics of such standing make a real difference as students have the chance to apply and contextualize the lessons they learn in the classroom.