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Tampere University’s Alumnus of the Year is FIIA Director Mika Aaltola

Published on 5.9.2022
Tampere University
Mika Aaltola.
Kuva: Riku Niemi / Videolle
Political scientist, Director at Finnish Institute of International Affairs Mika Aaltola is Tampere University’s Alumnus of the Year 2022. President Mari Walls unveiled the nomination at the Opening Ceremony of the University's new academic year on Monday, 5 September.

The recipients of Tampere University’s Alumnus and Alumna of the Year award represent the expertise produced by the University and contribute to showcasing the University's impact and the important role of university alumni to society. The criteria for the recipients include pioneering work in their own fields, societal impact and the promotion of interaction between the university, society and alumni. For the first time in 2022, the nomination process also included a public campaign through which candidate proposals were sought from the university’s friends, alumni, students and staff.

Mika Aaltola’s nomination as Alumnus of the Year 2022 was affected by his topical, prominent and socially impactful role. Aaltola has been one of the most visible experts to comment on the ongoing Ukraine war and several other current affairs around the world. He also received many nominations in the public candidate search.

After the merger of Tampere University of Technology and the University of Tampere in 2019, CEO Suvi Haimi was the first Alumna of the Year of the new Tampere University. The Alumna of 2020 was Prime Minister Sanna Marin and Alumnus of 2021 was the then President of Kalmar Automation Solutions at Cargotec Antti Kaunonen.

Director at Finnish Institute of International Affairs, political scientist Mika Aaltola has completed his doctorate at Tampere University where he still holds the title of Docent. He has made a long career in the field of political science and authored several books. He also makes the context and background of international relations more transparent and understandable on national media.

Alumni, the university’s offspring, give a significant contribution to society as well as the university. Through his own career path, Mika Aaltola outstandingly exemplifies the wide range of areas that university researcher training provides grounds for. Aaltola’s in-depth practical expertise in political studies and his ability to interpret and explain complex events in global politics to the general public has carried great importance in our recent national debate. It has also built understanding around the Ukraine war and the NATO membership process, says Tampere University’s President Mari Walls.

Mika Aaltola is grateful for the legacy he has received from the university and says that the lessons have taken him far.

– The critical mindset towards research that the university sparked in me has been easy to apply to current research topics. Academic research means that you must provide well-considered arguments and also know the theoretical framework. Tampere provides solid foundations for producing social research, and the years I Iived in Tampere were also an important junction point in my life. I greatly appreciate my background and alma mater for the time and peace of mind it gave me for my research work, Aaltola says.

In the study of international politics, Aaltola highlights a holistic view. It is a research area that is difficult to control but one that keeps on giving and remains endlessly interesting.

– When studying global politics, we examine ongoing affairs, a moving train. These events are complex and do not lend themselves to reduction. I cannot imagine a more interesting research topic than the workings of power, a natural human trait, in the largest possible context, the globe, and how it affects countries and individuals.

Mika Aaltola describes his nomination as Alumnus of the Year as exhilerating and surprising. International interest towards Finland has increased enormously in recent years, and Aaltola has been very busy in his role as Director at Finnish Institute of International Affairs. While many of his work affairs are not very cheerful, his firstborn son, born in spring 2022, is a welcome anchor in Aaltola’s everyday life.

– Putting a war or crises into words is not very easy, and you also make yourself vulnerable while doing so. All encouragement feels welcome in this task. The acknowledgement I have received from Tampere University gives wind beneath my wings and encourages me to continue my work. Tampere has kept me on its mind, and I have kept Tampere on mine, Aaltola states.

Mika Aaltola was also nominated Docent of the Year 2022 by the Tampere Docent Association for his role as Docent of International Relations at Tampere University. Awarded since 2003, the honorary title of Docent of the Year and the Docent prize are granted to Tampere University’s distinguished docents.

Alumnus of the Year Mika Aaltola

  • Doctor of Social Sciences, Department of Political Studies, Tampere University
  • Title of Docent, Tampere University
  • Expertise: US domestic and foreign affairs, great power relations, Finnish foreign and security policy, global governance

Read more:

Tampere University Alumni Services

Tampere Association of Associate Professors

Our alumnus Mika Aaltola: I have always been interested in forming a full picture