Jussi Nuorteva
Humanist of the day

Jussi Nuorteva

Jussi Nuorteva knows a thing or two about science. He began his practical research collecting fleas from swans’ nests. But the itch to go further with his studies in the natural sciences proved underwhelming and he turned his attention to the humanities. His work on the history of science has given him a grandstand view of the entire spectrum of scientific endeavour. Be it scientific communication and organisation, visiting prisons, cafés in the souks of Cairo and Damascus or the closed stacks of archives and libraries, Nuorteva is equally at home.

Jussi Nuorteva

Jussi Pekka Nuorteva
Born 22 July, 1954, Helsinki.

Master of Theology (Finnish and Scandinavian Church History) 1979, Master of Philosophy (Finnish and Scandinavian Church History) 1983, Licentiate of Philosophy 1986 and Doctor of Theology (Finnish and Scandinavian Church History) 1997, University of Helsinki
Docent, Church History and History of Science, University of Helsinki 1998

Director General of Archives, National Archivist 2003-

Secretary General, Finnish Literary Society, 2000–2003
Secretary General, Research Council for Culture and Society, Academy of Finland, 1998–2000
Science journalist, Finnish  Broadcasting Company, 1994–1998
Editor-in-chief, University of Helsinki Library’s National Bibliography of Finland 1991–1993
Assistant, Church History, University of Helsinki, 1989–1994 (leave of absence 1991–1993)
Research Assistant, Academy of Finland 1984–1989
Project Researcher, Academy of Finland 1879–1984

Research interests: Church history and history of science, history of early manuscripts, university 'practice masters', prison systems, history of administration, diplomatic history, states of emergency

Written by Jussi Nuorteva and Riitta-Ilona Hurmerinta (ed.)
Translated by John Calton

It was a sticky day in late May 2000 and I was waiting for the Faculty of Theology’s (doctoral) Congregation ceremony. Three years earlier I had defended my thesis on Finns’ studies abroad before the establishment of the Academy at Turku in 1640, and my study had been rated in the highest class. As such, I was the so-called primus doctor leading the procession and it was my ceremonial duty to answer the following question concerning my excellence: “Did the establishment of the Royal Academy in 1640 raise academic standards in Finland?” It was a question that required a reasoned argument but in the end it came down to a simple yes or no. Without a doubt the audience was expecting me to expatiate on the University’s huge significance for seventeenth-century social improvement and of course an answer in the affirmative.

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My first encounter with the Middle East was in the early autumn of 1974, when I began my studies at the University of Haifa. I had no great ambitions for my studies. Life in the Middle East was, on the other hand, all too real with the sound of sporadic grenades exploding in the direction of Lebanon and the Golan Heights and Israeli Skyhawk and Phantom fighter planes flitting above the surface of the Mediterranean. We followed all this from the terrace of the University cafeteria.

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