By SARA GIBONEY
KEARNEY – A new partnership between the University of Nebraska at Kearney and University of Tampere in Finland will expand learning, teaching and research opportunities for students and faculty.
For the past two summers, Sonja Bickford, UNK industrial technology assistant professor, took a group of UNK students to tour Scandinavia to learn about business travel. During the trips, they visited the University of Tampere in Finland.
“The students from Finland and from the U.S. seemed to connect really well – they were really interested in understanding each other’s views of the world, and they enjoyed spending time together,” said Antti Lönnqvist, faculty of management at University of Tampere. “Moreover, it also emerged that there are many shared academic interests, such as those related to sustainable and responsible business management.”
The new partnership will begin with student exchange between the universities, but could grow and offer faculty research collaboration, guest lectures by faculty, or faculty exchange.
Bickford, who is originally from Finland and has a doctorate in international business and leadership, has focused her research on the Arctic for the past four years.
“Rural Nebraska and rural communities in the Arctic are fairly similar as far as land use and people being open and friendly,” Bickford said. “I thought this would be a great way to share the opportunities here and in the Arctic.”
UNK currently offers exchange programs with many universities abroad, including campuses in Australia, Brazil, England, Germany, Japan, Netherlands, Spain and South Korea.
“Employers are looking for open mindedness and being able to step out of your comfort zone,” Bickford said. “A great way to showcase that is through study abroad and these international exchanges. This partnership creates a safe experience for students.
“It also enriches students’ lives to see how topics are taught in other places.”
Lönnqvist visited UNK in early February to tour the campus and discuss the collaboration.
“I was particularly impressed with the nice and compact campus. I can easily see the Finnish students having a nice experience studying and living there,” he said.
“I am sure that spending a period at the University of Tampere would offer valuable insights to the Finnish welfare society, the local business environment and of course the active student social life.”