Jaan Valsiner: visiting professor at the University of Tartu
Dear Estonians across the world,
I am happy to welcome you all from Tartu where I have the honour and fortune of working as an expat Estonian visiting professor in semiotics this academic year. While my main education and career spanning the world has been in psychology — cultural psychology—, in recent decades, my work has become increasingly linked to semiotics. The Department of Semiotics at the University of Tartu has become the global intellectual centre that has built on the achievements of Juri Lotman in literary studies to include biosemiotics and recently my work in psychology has been closely connected to semiotics. This academic year, I am in Tartu to teach a seminar — open to all levels — on semiosis (the creation of signs) in irreversible time.
Spending a whole year in Estonia, I have had a great opportunity to get an inside look into Estonian universities. Just like in the rest of the world, universities in Estonia are always struggling with funding. The rectors of Estonian universities are holding challenging talks on funding with the government. However, there are some needs that state cannot meet directly and this mainly entails supporting young Estonian scientists on the postdoctoral level in particular — this requires moving on to another level of knowledge that can be achieved through participation in the leading research centres of the world. Here is an idea I would like to share with you all — perhaps it would make sense to establish a global development fund for Estonian science and culture, and the support provided under this fund (through postdoctoral grants named after donors etc.) would allow young people from Estonia to develop and rise to the level of the world’s leading researchers in their fields of specialty. The expat Estonian professorship —, which I am currently enjoying — in Tartu is organised well at the moment but there is still insufficient support for younger developing specialists to help them reach world-class levels from Estonia. In my first Assembly Hall lecture (31.03.22), I spoke more about how important it is for Estonia to continue to develop ambitious young specialists.
Consider this thought for a while; perhaps you can develop it into something more.
With warm greetings,
Visiting professor at the University of Tartu
Jaan Valsiner is a renowned cultural psychologist with an extensive international career and in his research, he has linked psychology and semiotics, and helped present Estonia’s research in the world.
Watch his lectures (in Estonian):