Last Anniversary Celebration of the Institute for Advanced Social Research, IASR: Saara Pellander on Academic Freedom in the IASR

At the kick-off seminar when I started my term as postdoctoral researcher, my boss Risto Heiskala welcomed us to two years of total academic freedom. “You can do whatever you want, as long as it is brilliant”. In my case, this meant that I was for the first time able to actually think about the directions that I want to take in my research, while I had previously always worked in research projects, where what I did had to be more or less connected to the research project that was funding me.

The IASR enabled me to get inspired by my very accomplished and smart colleagues from different disciplines, who yet all shared the common interest in society, its institutions, representations and politics. Sharing some common ground, but all being specialized in different areas, allowed for a development of new ideas, thoughts and approaches. I was able to develop my research proposal to the academy of Finland, which ended up getting funded. I was also able to advance my career from post-doctoral researcher to senior researcher, apply for the title of docent, and during my time at the collegium managed to secure a position as director of the Migration Institute of Finland. I was able to develop a book proposal, publish three peer-reviewed articles per year, and have time for cooperation, developing new thoughts and ideas. I know that I would not have been able to develop my publications, my research proposals, my personal career development and, above all, my thinking, without the academic freedom granted to me during these exceptional years in Tampere.