Giacomo Bottà is a xenophile who lives and teaches in France, Finland and Germany. Since 2008 he has been coordinating the Helsinki Summer School’s popular course on urban studies. Last summer HSS granted him a Special Award as a sign of gratitude. When asked for his motives to return every year, he explains:
“Organising the summer school course links me strongly to the University of Helsinki still today and I really enjoy doing this. It has always been very hands-free, I was given the responsibility to organise the course and I’ve been always creating the whole structure and deciding to change the subject, the name and theme etc., even selecting the researchers. I really like doing that. And I enjoy the atmosphere of the three weeks: it’s nice to work with such a big intercultural group and see the dynamics which are created, you can experiment a lot with group works and so on. Also, as a researcher you are very lonely, so doing something like this is like the social highlight of my professional life.”
In addition, the Award Winning Coordinator says that there are differences in teaching a regular course at the university and teaching a HSS course. On the latter you get to know the students much better than on a regular course as the curriculum is very intensive. The course is short and condense and by the time the students leave, they must have finished everything and handed in their works. “The students are not wasting their time here, the course is about welfare so it is about egalitarianism, it’s about fair practices, about city making, housing and education. These are all cases that people can bring back to countries where issues with egalitarianism, social rights and human rights are not so obvious to all.”
In Giacomo’s opinion the Summer School is a great example for the rest of the University as teaching and organising teaching is not carried out in this way in individual departments, nor do you encounter so much attention to feedback.
Finally, the Travelling Scholar would also warmly recommend HSS to students: “One great thing is all the social activities, there are so many and that’s of course one great plus in comparison to other summer schools. You test Finnish education and you have a great social life. During the course and the three weeks you will have the Flow-festival, the restaurant day, the URB-festival and the Helsinki Festival and then you will have the Art Goes Kapakka. It’s a great time to be in Helsinki!”