Our network for research on multiculturalism and social interaction was started in 2010 as part of the University of Turku’s strategic development plans. A newer version of the strategy provided a vision for a Research Cluster on societal interaction, with research on multiculturalism issues linked to it. What is the exact realization of the Cluster in the future years remains to be seen.
It seems that time has come for some new directions and definitions. It may be useful to organize the network to become a center, which could make our activities more concrete. It would probably be easier for the center to apply for project funding. Up till now the projects related to our network have been created case-by-case and there’s not been much internal cooperation between the various projects or in general between the network board and the projects.
A considerable amount of research in the field of multiculturalism and societal interaction is completed every year at our university, in several faculties. This includes dissertations completed in e.g. the humanities, social sciences, education, law, and other fields. There’s no doubt that research on multiculturalism-related issues will grow in the future, simply because of the topical nature of this problem in Finland and elsewhere.
There are many relevant courses offered at the University of Turku, such as lecture series, seminars and other learning to which the center could link. There is even a study block on multiculturalism run by the faculty of social sciences and coordinated by the sociology department. It has been successful, but should be more closely linked with the network.
Finally, the network or the newly formed center could be positioned more clearly as a kind of think tank. This type of function would certainly be welcomed by the news media and would likely spark greater interest from stakeholders in Finnish society.