Scandinavian Studies department celebrate their anniversary with seminar, new library and sing-along

On 21 October, the University of Tartu Department of Scandinavian Studies with its about a hundred alumni, students and professors will celebrate the 25th anniversary. On that day, the doors of the new lecture rooms and the library of the College of Foreign Languages and Cultures will be open and new research projects will be presented by international faculty members at a seminar. The event will end with a sing-along.

“Scandinavian countries see their role in the world as being the flagship in protecting democracy, freedom and human dignity. Close involvement in it all helps to understand the topicality of an open attitude in present-day Estonia, too,” Kristina Mullamaa, head of the department, commented on the importance of Scandinavian Studies. She added, “In our ever more multifunctional space-time, however, the Scandinavian specialists today and in future will have more and more opportunities to apply their skills in fields adjacent to language and culture, like international relations, international projects and matters related with creativity and entrepreneurship.”

The seminar includes presentations by Daniel Sävborg, UT Professor of Scandinavian Studies, Kersti Lepajõe, Director of the UT College of World Languages and Cultures, Mr Anders Ljunggren, Ambassador of the Embassy of Sweden to Estonia, Mr Dagfinn Sørli, Ambassador of the Royal Embassy of Norway in Estonia, Mr Madis Kanarbik, representative of the Nordic Council of Ministers’ Office in Estonia, and others.

The anniversary celebrations will be attended by faculty members and students of the department of Scandinavian studies and representatives of embassies and cultural organisations who have collaborated with the department.

The tradition of teaching Scandinavian languages in the University of Tartu dates back to late 1920s, when the lecturer Nils-Herman Lindberg taught Swedish at the university. Thirty years later the tradition was continued by Professor Paul Ariste and, starting from the 1960s, two-year intensive study programmes were provided at the university. Namely that generation of Swedish language learners has given us many well-known cultural figures, professors, compilers of dictionaries and textbooks and translators, e.g. Ülev Aaloe, Anu Saluäär, etc. Those who have stood out for their interest in and knowledge of the Swedish language and culture also include the Professor of History Helmut Piirimäe, diplomat Margus Laidre and historian Arvo Tering.

The Department of Scandinavian Studies got its start in 1991, when a special branch of Scandinavian studies was opened at the Chair of German Language, and since then the Swedish, Danish and Norwegian languages were taught as a major specialty. Swedish, Norwegian and Danish have been taught by visiting lecturers and professors who speak these languages as their mother tongue and have brought along the free spirit and democratic attitudes of the Scandinavian countries since the early 1990s already.

Over the 25 years, a total of 212 bachelor’s theses, 35 master’s theses and three PhD theses have been written in the three specialties of the department.

Since 2015 the Department of Scandinavian Studies belongs to the College of World Languages and Cultures and currently a total of 53 bachelor students and four master students study in the three specialties.

Over the years, the teaching of Scandinavian languages has been actively supported by the Swedish Institute, the Norwegian Centre for International Cooperation in Education (SIU) and the Danish Agency of Science, Technology and Innovation. Different projects and cultural events have also been supported by the embassies of Scandinavian countries in Estonia and the Nordic Council of Ministers’ office in Estonia.

Additional information: Kristina Mullamaa, Head of the UT Department of Scandinavian Studies,, 511 7138