Last Anniversary Celebration of the Institute for Advanced Social Research, IASR: Jessica de Bloom's Reflections on the IASR

Reflections on the IASR

By Dr. Jessica de Bloom

I would like to share the reflections on my time at the IASR and what the IASR meant for my development as a researcher. I have shared these thoughts with my colleagues and the former director of the IASR, Prof. Risto Heiskala.

Farewell message sent to the Institute of Advanced Social Research on June 22, 2017

Dear colleagues,

I have spent two years in “researcher heaven” with universal academic freedom and the feeling of complete trust in my abilities. Now it is time for my “expulsion from paradise” and a short moment of reflection.

Thinking back on my time at the institute, the IASR seminars come to my mind. The seminars have sparked exciting discussions not only at work, but also at home: the future of the EU, the “refugee crisis”, childhood during socialism, the probation system in the UK, the Nordic welfare state and “healthism” as the new religion, to name just a few. I also learned about an array of topics of great international and national importance such as the horrifying massacre in Lebanon, the health reform, maternal care and alcohol prevention in Finland, journalism, and press freedom in Russia. During my own seminars, I greatly enjoyed the emerging discussions and I learned to look at my research from different perspectives.

But in fact, the things I learned at the IASR make life more complicated as well. How can I ever talk about “impact”, my “H-Index” and “track records” without recalling our discussions on neoliberalism and feeling a bit like a traitor, selling my academic soul? The IASR made me see the bigger picture, the reality of life in academia and it contributed to making me a more critical person. I´m very grateful for all the debates I had with “true academics”, inspiring my research. You provided me with the opportunity to critically reflect on my work and my role as a scientist in society. Thank you all for guiding and accompanying me on my journey and being part of my learning process.

E-mail sent to Prof. Heiskala on August 27, 2020

Dear Risto,

I was recently talking to my husband, mentioning (like so many times before) how grateful I still am that I could work at the IASR. After all, the IASR provided me with the opportunity to develop my own research project, which was granted funding from the Academy of Finland and on which I am still happily working on now.

The IASR recently came up again, because I was asked to be on the evaluation committee for large interdisciplinary research projects addressing important societal questions which have been developed with citizen-panels, a relatively new national funding instrument in the Netherlands.

While reading these projects, I noticed again how much I have learned at the IASR and how differently I approach research these days. Many projects would have thrilled me in former times. But after my time at the IASR, I have a much better idea of the wider implications of research. So, by working at the IASR, I became a better academic who is able to see the greater picture and critically reflect on my role as a researcher in society.

I wanted to thank you and the IASR again for providing this opportunity to me.