A few examples of BUP-stories

After a meeting on environmental education in Kalmar

You may remember that Kalmar is on the Baltic Sea coast, in Sweden. After the meeting, three of us, Per-Arne Lindström from Germany, Linas Kliuncinikas from Kaunas, and myself from Uppsala. We were going out to the coast to swim. It was after several weeks of very hot weather. I think it was 1992. We were coming there in the late evening, it was already fairly dark.

We jumped into the water. And it, oohh, lighted up. There was this bioluminescence. It was such an extraordinary experience! So, when you were jumping into the water, you were jumping into an explosion of light. And you saw all the fish! Especially the flounders, lying on this rather shallow sand bottom. Just resting. And then they jumped away and you could see where they went. You could almost pick them by hand. I have never been part of such an experience in the Baltic Sea, before or after.

Linas Kliucininkas was at the time a student at the Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas, Lithuania. He was one of the very first persons in Lithuania to join and made very important contributions during the entire history of BUP, as teacher, as researcher and as national coordinator over many years. He met his wife in the BUP network and now with three sons they are one of our BUP families.

Per-Arne Lindström of Swedish decent but living in Germany at the time, then working as a pedagogue, teacher and principle of schools with basis at Lüneburg University where he started several BUP courses. He made important contributions by expanding BUP in Germany and contributing to research contacts in the area of regenerative design.

- by former BUP Director, Lars Rydén. 

An important meeting place

BUP contributions to an international meeting place for all universities around the Baltic Sea cannot be underestimated, numerous collaboration and initiatives have come about due to BUP activities.

At the fifth Rectors Baltic University Programme conference, hosted by Åbo Akademi, Finland, I emphasized the important role of our students. Within  BUP, we provide vital opportunities for today’s students and prepare them for a life of international cooperation and friendship. Without cooperation, the world is worse off. The Baltic University Programme has sent out this message to many students. All these students are introduced to the ideas underlying the BUP. It is our students who are the future and will carry the torch of knowledge for a better world.

At a meeting in Uppsala in 2019 my message to the participants were as follows:  Your presence here is testimony to the success of the BUP and its continued relevance. The reason is of course that we have managed together to create a network that benefits all the participants. Today, at a time when our region faces renewed challenges, we want to take important new steps to strengthen our bonds. The mission of BUP as conveyed in the statutes, are as relevant today and will be tomorrow too.

The planned activities during 2020 had to be cancelled or rescheduled, for BUP as for everybody due to the global pandemic that hit the world. One idea, we had for the meeting in August 2020, was to invite all the rectors to participate in SAIL and go on a sailing trip and have a joint seminar on the subject of sustainability and the role of universities around the Baltic sea. I do hope this idea will be realized in the future!

- by Eva Åkesson, Vice Chancellor of Uppsala University 2012 - 2020

Baltic Mission Possible

My journey with the Baltic University Programme started in late spring 1995. After only a few weeks I was sent to Latvia to prepare for a TV-series for the new planned course material A SUSTAINABLE BALTIC REGION. In Riga I was introduced to Uldis Cekulis who worked as a video producer for the Ministry of Environment. He invited me immediately to follow his team for a film mission. The soviet radar station Skrunda, wich had been part of the anti-ballistic warning system was to be demolished the next day. The symbolic event happened on the 4 of may 1995, which also was the 5 year anniversary of independence. The latvian film crew were professionals and equipped with a 35 mm film camera to capture when the main structure of the complex, a huge 19 storey building, was blown up with dynamite. Since I had just bought a small hi-8 amateur camera Uldis suggested that my objective was to film happy and cheering latvians who had gathered to watch. It was a gloomy rain drizzling day and I walked around among the crowd with my camera hanging around my neck waiting for the blast.

Everything went well with the crew who captured great shoots but my disapointment was great when me and Uldis looked at my footage which opened with a very long sequence showing my dirty shoes walking around. When the blast could be heard the view moved quickly up in position and stopped. Then again walking shoes … No cheering and happy faces to be seen. So I had accidentally managed to press ”rec” when I walked around waiting and ”stop” when I was about to record. Total failure for my part!

- by Magnus Lehman, former Producer at the BUP

No cloUdes on the photos

I would like to share one memorable episode. In the early 1980s, as a young scientist, I was a member of a project that was compiling a vegetation map of our internationally significant wetland, Matsalu Nature Reserve, which today is Matsalu National Park. It spans an area of 490 km² in western Estonia. The project leader died unexpectedly and we were in need of aerial photographs to complete the map. At that time, aerial photographs were treated as a state secret of the Soviet Union. In order to have access to the aerial photos needed for our work, I confronted the choice of whether to sign a document committing me to never exchange a single word with foreigners. I was told that if I signed the document allowing access to photos, I would never be allowed to travel abroad. On one hand, we needed the aerial photos for the work of several years to be correctly finished, and on the other hand, I was eager to see the world and participate in international conferences and meetings outside the Soviet Union. I concluded that our scientific research was the priority and rationalized this by thinking that there were many places worth visiting in the Soviet Union. I signed the document. When we finally got access to the photos, I could only view them while sitting in secure archives. There was no possibility to take them to the field! Of course, on these photos there was nothing except flooded meadows, reed-beds, the waters of the bay, a few islands, some forested areas, and a few farmhouses. The photos had nothing else, not even the “clouds” which I learned later were often placed on the photos to hide military objects.

This restriction on me remained and I was not even able to visit the socialist countries that were allies of the Soviet Union. My attempts to get visas always ended in nothing but silence from the authorities. The restrictions were so severe that when I attended international conferences in the Soviet Union I always had a “companion” with me, usually a young KGB staff member accompanying me mornings till night to make sure that I only spoke with the “right” kind of people. I still have no idea what state secrets I knew.

Thankfully, ours is a changed world. As citizens of the Baltic States we are living in our own countries and are able to have free, open and productive exchanges with colleagues wherever they are located. And now, unlike before, I love to learn foreign languages.

- by Tiina Eelvisto, Associate Professor, PhD, Tallinn University, Estonia

Alternative Energy sources

In October 2010, on my own initiative, I applied to participate in the seminar "Alternative Energy Sources". The seminar was attended by representatives of various countries of the Baltic region, including three representatives from Lithuania, with whom I had a full understanding and close personal contacts. We flew together by plane to Vilnius. There were well-organized excursions to enterprises and private firms that successfully solve issues related to the use of green energy. And later I went back to Minsk to tell my colleagues and students about the experience Sweden has in using alternative energy sources. 

The history of cooperation between our faculty and the Baltic University Programme continues. In October 2020, a seminar was held at BSU Baltic Sea Region - Cooperation without limits?, where during my presentation I showed a photo of the participants of the 2010 seminar in Uppsala. The head of the delegation from Kaliningrad could not contain his surprise: "So this is our Professor Krasnov." It was a joy and an understanding that cooperation within the Baltic Region continues and has no borders.

- by Halina Haurylka, Associate Professor, Department of International Economic Relations, Belarusian State University

when one event has far reaching meaning 

I always say that The Baltic University Programme is about people. It is thanks to them that the Programme has been running for so many years and continues to be a great example of international university cooperation. For me individually, the BUP is extremely important because it has contributed to my personal and career development. Thanks to the honor of being elected by the participants of the Students' Conference as Students' Representative, a new stage in my life has begun, so I had a chance to challenge myself. Over the next 2 years, I had the opportunity to meet many wonderful people from different countries (some of whom I still keep in touch with today), experience many new things and places, spend hours in discussions, presentations on sustainability and the program itself. I always have fond memories of The Baltic University Programme and I know that without participation in my first event, I would not be where I am - being part of a leading Swedish company - supporting the sustainability agenda.

- by Sylwester Nagórka, former BUP Students' Representative

Last modified: 2021-05-18