Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies

The University of Helsinki has something called a Collegium for Advanced Studies, whose aims are:

  • to enhance scholarly excellence within humanities and social sciences;
  • to endorse dialogue between different academic orientations;
  • to provide an innovative environment for concentrated study;
  • to encourage theoretical and methodological reflection in research;
  • to promote international visibility of Finnish research and interaction between scholars from all over the world.

Every year the Collegium offers a number of researcher positions concentrated on interdisciplinary work. Helsinki is the fifth closest university to where I live, and so I have applied a few times. I just received their reply to my most recent application. No luck so far.

To people who plan to apply for a job at the Collegium for Advanced Studies, some stats may be of interest. This year, 375 people applied for the 15 jobs. This means that, everything else being equal, your chance of getting a job is 4%, or less than half of the chance of getting funding for research in the humanities from the Swedish Research Council. My project proposal got a decent grade from the reviewers, but in order to reach the top 4% you must of course score extremely high.

I note with some sadness that neither of my two reviewers appears to have been an archaeologist. One opines that a project of interest only to scholars in Finland and the Nordic countries would have an “uncertain wider significance”. This, of course, pretty much kills all archaeology practiced in the countries in question, since archaeology is at heart strongly regional. The other reviewer asks, with a real sense of curiosity, “Is metal detector survey a good method in archaeology?”. Ouch.

To my current knowledge no scholar in Scandinavian archaeology has ever got a job with the Collegium for Advanced Studies.


  1. #1 Jonathan Jarrett
    February 10, 2009

    Scant consolation, Martin, I realise, but as a historian of Continental Europe I’ve never had any luck with them either. The odds are so heavily against it that I can’t even feel annoyed about it. On the other hand, those people I’ve met who have held one of the fellowships are—okay, the person is—really very good, that being Alaric Hall, so they’re doing something right.

  2. #2 Martin R
    February 10, 2009

    Yeah, I’m not suggesting that the people they do recruit are substandard. I just wonder if their selection methods are optimal. Same as in the case with Linköping university really.

  3. #3 Bob O'H
    February 10, 2009

    That’s a shame, it would have been fun for you to pop over here.

    I can’t comment on this funding, but in general the university’s choices can be a bit opaque at times.

    If you’re planning to detect metal in Finland, there are places like the cultural foundation. Unfortunately their deadline was yesterday. But there are other foundations – the next deadline I know of is the Emil Aaltonen Foundation, but I’ve no idea if that’s relevant for you. Also, the deadline is Sunday, which in effect means Thursday/Friday (for postage).

    There’s a website in Turku that lists all the Finnish foundations that give out grants. If you want, I can try and find it for you.

  4. #4 DianaGainer
    February 10, 2009

    I know I’m being selfish and unrealistic, but I keep hoping you’ll find a post in the Midwest, in the U.S., where you’ll turn up the remains of some Vikings who got lost searching for Vinland. The local descendants of Norwegians and Swedes would love to hear about it, even if no self-respecting archeologists would. I even saw such artifacts enshrined in a museum in Oklahoma, where I was astounded to hear that no less a personage than Erik the Red had once wandered by and carved some runes. I almost expected them to tell me he did this in 1491, the year before Columbus sailed the “ocean blue.”

  5. #5 Martin R
    February 10, 2009

    Thanks guys! I didn’t apply for a Finnish job because I long to metal detect there. I offered to metal detect there because I long for a job.

    But Bob and Diana, do feel free to set me up with a speaking / keynoting / MCing gig in your area. (-;

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