24 ago 2016

Planning the next wave of values study in Estonia

WVSA Secretary General Bi Puranen talking about Nordic values in Estonia

Conference „Estonia AND the Nordic Countries – Estonia AS a Nordic Country?” took place on August 23rd 2016, in Kumu Auditorium, Tallinn. The conference was organized by the University of Tartu Centre for Ethics.

Cooperating partners: Nordic Council of Ministers, Embassy of Norway, Embassy of Sweden, Embassy of Denmark, Embassy of Finland, Ministry of Education and Research, Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The conference marks the 25th anniversary of the Restoration of the independence of Estonia. Its main goal was to reflect on the past and present developments of the Estonian identity and values, as well as to discuss different visions for its future. This was done from the perspective of Estonian supposed connectedness with the Nordic region and a popular belief that Estonia should be regarded as one of the Nordic countries.

Some of the main questions that were discussed at the conference:

  • Why has the national narrative of Estonia being part of the Nordic region been so popular and persistent over time? What is the historical and intellectual background of this idea?
  • What is the prevalent understanding of the Nordic values and Nordic identity in Estonia? Does it differ from the dominant images shared by Scandinavians?
  • What do sociological surveys (e.g. the World Values Survey) show about the similarities and differences between the Estonian and Nordic values, as well as about the differences among the countries that are traditionally regarded Nordic? How can we explain the differences in the patterns of values (e.g., by means of different histories, different political traditions, different levels of social welfare)? Can we, overall, talk about a uniform Nordic values system?
  • Would the pursuit to become closer to the Nordic societies also require adopting the Nordic values? What kind of political, social and cultural changes would it mean?
  • Is there something in the specific Estonian experience that could be valuable and inspiring for the Nordic societies?

These significant issues were reflected on and discussed by various distinguished academics and public thinkers from Scandinavia and Estonia. The conference helped to conceptualize the past, present and future of the Estonian and Nordic values as well as to further the discussion on the concept of the Nordic countries and the connectedness of the Baltic-Nordic region.

The conference was preceded by the contest for opinion pieces and photos, “Estonia AND the Nordic countries—Estonia AS a Nordic country?”. The winners of the awards were announced at the conference.

WVSA was represented by Secretary General Bi Puranen, Institute for Futures Studies in Sweden, who gave a talk on "What are the Nordic values today?"

The list of other speakers at the conference included:

  • Stein Kuhnle (University of Bergen, Hertie School of Governance). What is Norden: Shaping of the Nordic identity.
  • Mart Kuldkepp (University College London). History of Estonian Nordic identity
  • Anu Realo (University of Tartu, University of Warwick). Estonian values and the Nordic values
  • Meik Wiking (The Happiness Research Institute, World Database of Happiness). The Well-being of Nations.
  • Valdur Mikita (University of Tartu). A writer’s reflections on the Finno-Ugric ways of happiness.


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