Tanny Por, a researcher from University of Greenland, travelled to Rovaniemi, to get inspiration for improving University of Greenlands communication strategies.

Tanny Por: "I spent just over one week with the University of Lapland and the University of the Arctic Secretariat in Lapland, Rovaniemi, Finland.
By the time I had arrived in Rovaniemi, I had three clear goals in my mind":

  • Learn more about how the University of Lapland has used its position in the North to promote itself and also develop its strategy.
  • Understand the purpose and goals of the UArctic Networks and the different opportunities there were for Ilisimatusarfik / University of Greenland
  • Attend the Nordlys Network, under the Nordlys Programme – and understand the collaboration opportunities available for Ilisimatusarfik, by networking and getting to know the different universities within Nordlys.

The University goals and identity

The programme that was set up for me by University of Lapland / UArctic secretariat was very comprehensive, and covered many integral areas to consider in our internationalization process.
While there, I learnt about the history of ULapland, and how a few decades ago the University decided that its ‘northern’ position should be its identity and strength and not be perceived as a weakness. The University therefore geared its courses and research towards its northern identity, for example, it created an Arctic studies program before the term ‘Arctic’ became popular.
It was very much impressed upon me that Ilisimatusarfik needs to be unified internally in relation to our goals and identity, before we can actively improve and communicate ourselves to the world. While ILI does have a strategy of progressing Inuit, Greenlandic and Arctic knowledge and studies, we need to hone this further. For example, if we invested in a branding workshop, we can feed the information gathered into sharpening the University’s research strategy. We can also use information gathered to develop website functionality and appearance.

How to make mobility and internationalization a reality

There were many practical conversations with the dedicated ULapland international office about how to make mobility and international collaborations a reality. We discussed topics like the need to provide international student/staff services (and the challenges of setting up this in a small place which is not prepared for it) and developing courses that are accessible to international students.
Another point discussed was integration. One example that ILI should consider is the role of the University regarding internationalization in the community of Nuuk. For example, last semester we launched a pilot ‘buddy program’, where local students helped to befriend the new incoming guest students. Two enthusiastic students responded. At ULapland, this is a community-wide program. We could also formalize this into a program with weekly activities during the semester, with different international themes each week, for example practicing a different language, guest talks, and fun activities. The public could join or help out if they were interested.

Practical information

The mobility experience has really clarified the different purposes of the UArctic and Nordlys networks and why Ilisimatusarfik should be a part of these groups. It makes our network and our opportunities for exchange, research and collaboration within the Nordic and Northern regions so much more diverse. I was also able to ask practical questions to the administrators who provide detailed explanations and lively discussions if not always answers. I also got very useful basic information, for example the different types of funding available and how they could be applied. Last but not least, great to meet the other international staff at the Nordlys and UArctic networks so that I may ask them questions in the future.
I would like to thank the ULapland and UArctic staff for hosting me, and believe that it was such a useful experience on so many different levels.