The FINTERDIS working group was founded in summer 2018 in order to create the Finnish Interdisciplinary Society. The first members of the working group were Kirsi Cheas and Anna-Leena Riitaoja – two Finnish scholars with interdisciplinary interests who had struggled during their academic paths, trying to expand frameworks within the strict structures of our academia. While Kirsi has defended her doctoral thesis quite recently in January 2018, with fresh memories from struggles as a doctoral student, Anna-Leena defended her’s in 2013 and thus, she is a more experienced post-doctoral scholar.
Our first meeting took place in the children’s park Hoplop in Vantaa, Finland. We talked about creativity while observing our kids play. We especially discussed how our education system makes people think through categories. Children, students, and junior scholars who have recently finished their Ph.D. degrees are researchers of the future, and we must assure that they have enough space to think and develop connections between different fields and ideas, before they loose their original capacity for innovative thought due to the established teaching and research practices and persistent divisions between fields and study programs. At the same time we noted that early-career researchers with interdisciplinary focus and working in the Finnish academic context lack sufficient forums and structures where they could participate, have influence, and receive peer support from other researchers. Hence, we developed the idea of the Finnish Interdisciplinary Society, in order to support the interdisciplinary orientation of students and early-career researchers in particular, while collaborating closely with more advanced scholars in an effort to enhance intergenerational communication and exchange of ideas. In other words, our Society aims to promote innovative thought which not only spans across different disciplines but also different generations.
Following our “playdate” at Hoplop, our working group was joined by M.Sc. Janina da Silva Gonçalves, doctoral candidate Grace I-An Gao, and docent Harri Kettunen. In this way we meant to ensure that the Society to be formed would consider interests of academics at different career stages and with different research orientations. The FINTERDIS working group organized an official founding meeting on October 4, 2018, distributing invitations in Finnish and in English via mailing lists of different universities and academic organizations in our country. The founding meeting elected a Board of Directors for the academic year 2018-19 until the next General Meeting to be organized in 2019.
The first planning meeting of FINTERDIS was organized in the Hoplop children’s park, where early-career researchers Anna-Leena Riitaoja and Kirsi Cheas discussed the importance of creativity and learning not only between different fields but also across generations.