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New Centre Director in Estonia

2022-05-06

We welcome Tiina Elvisto, PhD, Associate Professor at Tallinn University as our new Centre Director in Estonia. Tiina has shared with us some thoughts about her new position as well as her history with The Baltic University Programme.

As the Director of the Estonian National Centre for the Baltic University Programme, a priority for me will be to strengthen the collaboration among the participating Estonian universities.

Estonia has derived great benefits from the BUP. This international network has broadened and deepened the knowledge of students and lecturers about our region and the critical need for international cooperation to take on the challenges that we face in our commitment to sustainable development and democratic societies. Since the BUP launched in 1991, our region has evolved and the scope and character of the pressing concerns facing our region have changed. The BUP too has grown and changed and is as relevant if not more so today than it was at its inception.

As an ecologist, I am particularly focused on the connections among organisms and their interdependencies in an environment. Our Baltic environment and the individual countries and their institutions cannot flourish without strong connections in all domains, which is why I have been committed to participating in it and promoting it to my students, colleagues, and the administrators at Estonia’s universities.

I have been an associate professor at (what is now) Tallinn University since 1993. Shortly after I joined TU I was encouraged to engage with the BUP. In that first year, our students together with students from Tallinn University of Technology participated in the BUP Space Bridge. That was a major effort. Big satellite uplink trucks were set up at the Technical University so that we could interact via satellite with students and lecturers in Poland and Sweden. It was an unprecedented event both historically and technically. It demonstrated that the Iron Curtain, which blocked such communication and interaction for five decades had fallen. Now, thanks to mobile phones, computers, and the Internet we can have the same type of interactions more conveniently and cheaper. Of course, the BUP constantly links our institutions by such means, but we also understand the importance of organizing in-person events.

Since 1995, I and my colleagues have taught courses developed at BUP to both TU and visiting students. Five hundred and sixty-five TU students have successfully completed these BUP courses. In addition, about fifty TU students have participated in BUP conferences, summer schools, and SAIL (Sustainability Applied in International Learning) summer conferences conducted at sea on board the tall sailing ship Fryderyk Chopin or Pogoria. The students have done it all with keen interest and it has been inspiring for me.

I obtained a doctorate in ecology from the University of Tartu. Biology is my academic field. My main research has focused on reed-beds and wooded meadows. In recent years I have investigated urban vegetation. In all these endeavors, I have relied on cooperation and exchanges with colleagues in other countries. For Estonia and the entire Baltic region, the BUP holds the promise of institutionalizing that cooperation and sharing for the benefit of all.

A person looking at the camera smiling.
Tiina Elvisto, PhD, Associate Professor at Tallinn University, the new Centre Director in Estonia.

Last modified: 2022-05-23