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Jaakko Leino

Jaakko Matti Leino
Born March 25, 1971, Espoo

Master of Arts, 1997, Doctor of Philosophy (Finnish Language), 2003, University of Helsinki

Professor of Finnish, 2011– , University of Helsinki

Co-ordinator, language studies doctoral programme Langnet, 2003–06
Professor of Finnish, University of Jyväskylä, 2006–07
University Lecturer in General Linguistics, University of Helsinki, 2007–08
Professor of Finnish, Åbo Akademi University, 2008–09
Researcher, Institute for the Languages of Finland, 2009–11

Research interests:
Cognitive linguistics, construction grammar, syntax, semantics, language frameworks, dialect syntax

Publications, research projects and other academic activities

Photo: Saara Leino
Written by Jaakko Leino, Kaija Hartikainen (ed.)
Translated by Joseph McVeigh

My best memories at the University of Helsinki

Like many others, my best memories at the University of Helsinki are from my time as a student. This can be put down to individual psychological reasons: youth is the best time for many people and an object of nostalgia, even if life wouldn’t have later changed for the worse. My early days at the University were certainly similar to most people’s: a time of great new discoveries, learning and understanding.

Another reason I am nostalgic for the early days is because the University I now experience is very different from the one in which I studied. Gone is the carefree exploration and curious excitement of academic freedom which characterised the studies of humanities undergraduates in my generation. It has been replaced by the conveyor belt degree system, with time limits for the completion of studies, endless monitoring of credits and grades, concentration on core competencies, as well as assessment, reporting and supervisory tasks (not to mention issues related to the ever-changing information systems).

Masters and doctors, produced more and more efficiently, have fewer and fewer opportunities in society to work in their fields of expertise. At the same time, in the current university set-up, educated and experienced academics have pathetic opportunities to show what they can best do.

Particularly worrying and frustrating is the fact that the democratic university of my student days has become a military-style hierarchical organisation where leaders do not trust their subordinates and vice versa, and where scientists cannot collegially elect those entrusted with drawing up the most important scientific guidelines. More than anything else it is bizarre that people in the university should be thinking about each other in terms of ‘leaders’ and ‘subordinates’.

My best experiences at the University have been the times when intelligent people in all stages of their academic careers have been brought together with open minds, ignoring the chain of command, to look for answers to questions that no one has been able to answer in the past. This is what science is all about. Experience and education are beneficial here, but so too are open-mindedness, fresh ways of thinking and the questioning of received ideas.

At Sevettijärvi. Photo: Saara Leino.​​
At Sevettijärvi. Photo: Saara Leino.​​
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