Report: Workshop on Jewish Studies in the Nordic Countries, 12 January 2022

On 12 January 2022 colleagues from a range of Nordic universities, educational institutions, museums and archives met for a day-long workshop to share experiences and explore collaboration across the Nordic region in Jewish Studies research and teaching. The workshop took online and was been organised with generous support from and in cooperation with Ruth Illman (Åbo Akademi) and colleagues at the Minhag Finland project. 

The programme was broken down into three parts:

  1. A roundtable conversation focussed on developing collaboration in Jewish Studies research;
  2. A virtual visit to the Royal Danish Library’s Hebrew and Jewish archive and manuscript holdings; and,
  3. A roundtable conversation introducing ongoing Jewish Studies courses and exploring opportunities for student and teacher exchange.

Colleagues from the following institutions participated throughout the day:

  • Åbo Akademi University
  • Copenhagen University
  • Gothenburg University
  • Helsinki University
  • The Institute for Holocaust Research in Sweden (IHRS)
  • The Jewish Museum in Stockholm
  • Lund University
  • Malmö University
  • Oslo MF – Norwegian School of Theology, Religion and Society
  • Oslo Metropolitan University
  • Paideia – The European Institute for Jewish Studies in Sweden
  • The Royal Danish Library
  • Södertorn University
  • Uppsala University

During the workshop colleagues from each institution gave brief presentations of their Jewish Studies research and teaching activities that summarised pre-circulated short texts offering a more extended treatment. A fuller account of these presentations will be shared in due course.

Here follow a few actionable points suggested by participants of the workshop to support the development of Jewish Studies among our institutuions:

  • Attending (where possible) seminars and events at other Nordic institutions
  • Resolving potential overlaps in programming through more directed coordination
  • Collaborating on organising events that connect together several institutions, including engaging in co-branding
  • Sharing information about seminar series, workshops, and other academic events via local departmental email lists and this website
  • Organising fora for doctoral students to share their research and network among their Jewish Studies colleagues in the broadest sense – these could be jointly organised to avoid doubling up of activities (e.g., UU and LU have doctoral students networked together for annual events – could these be combined/coordinated?)
  • Meeting together to discuss research applications in order to coordinate bids and increase chances of success via targetted feedback
  • Sharing information about and bidding for seed money to help establish smaller research projects (particularly with reference to archive and manuscript holdings, as well as non-Higher Educational institutions like local religious organisations or museums)
  • Coordinated attempts to create visibility for the discipline toward funders (both private and public)
  • Formalising the Nordic Network for Jewish Studies? Could we establish a more formal leadership team with an ambulatory chair?
  • Could perhaps a Nordic prize for Jewish Studies MA theses be established?
  • Collaboration initiatives for the exchange of teachers and guest lectures
  • Using Erasmus exchange for supervision of PhD students?
  • Considering making a bid for e.g., Erasmus+ with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem to promote further collaboration between LU and UU?
  • Åbo shared that they had been collaborating in teaching via Nordplus – could other Jewish Studies courses utilise the same?
  • Considering developing joint programmes in Jewish Studies among our universities? (E.g., example of the Religious Roots of Europe MA programme, a collaboration between Oslo MF, Lund University, and Copenhagen University)
  • Capitalising on the widespread use of online learning going forward to develop courses that can be delivered internationally
  • Tackling the discoverability of Jewish Studies courses spread among our institutions

Karin Zetterholm and I would like to thank all colleagues who were able to attend and contribute to the conversation. The discussions across the day took place in a spirit of generosity, creativity, and openness, and for this we are certainly very grateful. For reasons of practicality we were not able to gather every institution that we would have liked to see at this meeting, and hope that colleagues at other institutions will join us for follow-up meetings in the near future.

Finally, as a result of our colleagues’ generosity we have been able to compile a page offering highlights of Jewish Studies research and teaching across the Nordic Region. It will be made available shortly. We will keep it as up-to-date as we can while we gather more information, and hope it will be a useful resource for the continued development of research and teaching links among our institutions.

The Nordic Network for Jewish Studies was founded and is run by Dr Katharina Keim and Dr Karin Zetterholm at the Centre for Theology and Religious Studies at Lund University.

Don’t forget to subscribe to our blog to receive the latest news from the Network in your email inbox! You are always welcome to get in touch with us at admin[dot]nordicjewishstudies[at]ctr[dot]lu[dot]se.

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