Africa’s global importance is growing. This is one of the reasons why the University of Helsinki is investing in cooperation with the continent. The University published its Africa programme for 2021–2030 on 14 October.

Global action, sustainability and responsibility – these three themes receive particular emphasis in both the Strategic Plan of the University of Helsinki 2021–2030 and the University’s recently approved Africa programme. The new programme is based on the creation and nurturing of long-term partnerships, the promotion of the international activities of students and researchers, and the application of multidisciplinary research.

“Our principle is: ‘with Africa’. We believe we have a lot to give and to gain in terms of cooperation. We wish to work for a better world in a sustainable way,” says Vice-Rector Hanna Snellman.

Activities associated with the University of Helsinki’s first strategic partnership with an African university will commence in early 2021. This cooperation with the University of Nairobi will focus, in particular, on the promotion of health and food security as well as the development of teacher education.

Mul­tidiscip­lin­ary research provides an ex­cel­lent basis for co­oper­a­tion

The University of Helsinki currently carries out a wide range of research and teaching on Africa. The research conducted on zoonotic viruses, vaccines, agriculture, forestry, biodiversity, and African societies, cultures and languages will constitute an excellent basis for the new cooperation.

“One of the core strengths of our multidisciplinary university is the incredibly diverse expertise of our community. The new Africa programme will promote interaction between experts of different fields and the development of new cross-disciplinary skills,” notes Snellman.

African studies scholars of various fields have also been closely involved in drafting the University’s Africa programme. 

In­ter­na­tional in­ter­ac­tion between Fin­land and Africa

The University of Helsinki also aims to establish new cooperation in education as well as business collaboration and education export on the basis of the research cooperation. Another aim is to increase student and researcher mobility and international interaction between Finland and Africa.

A concrete initiative for the promotion of such interaction is the collaborative One Health Early Career Champions programme of the University of Helsinki and the University of Nairobi. The programme enhances the career skills of young researchers from various fields through the means of international mentoring. Mentors and mentees will be sought this autumn at both universities.

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