Tieteentekijöiden liitto on puolustanut tutkitun tiedon tuottajia, tieteentekijöitä 50 vuoden ajan. Merkkipaalun kunniaksi esittelemme vuoden aikana 50 tieteentekijää ja heidän näkemyksiään siitä, miksi tutkitun tiedon puolesta tulee toimia juuri tässä ajassa.
Kannamme huolta ja vastuuta tieteen ja tutkitun tiedon asemasta yhteiskunnassa. Tämä on tärkeää juuri nyt. Meillä on tietoa enemmän kuin koskaan aikaisemmin, mutta sen yltäminen päätöksenteon perusteeksi meitä kaikkia koskettavissa asioissa saisi toteutua nykyistä paremmin.
As an expert of rural development, Fulvio Rizzo gets to turn his findings into policy recommendations in his role as research fellow at the University of Eastern Finland. Rizzo is also active in Eurodoc, an organisation that promotes the interests of young European researchers.
Rural development researcher Fulvio Rizzo just returned from Sicily three days ago. Although Rizzo hails from Sicily himself, the reason for his trip was not to visit relatives, but dairy farmers. His current research project focuses on how dairy farmers adapt to bio-physical and social change. He compares the situation of the Sicilian farmers with that of farmers living in his other research area, the Finnish North Karelia. One would think that these two regions have little in common, but according to Rizzo, the challenges faced are quite similar.
– Both areas are quite far from Central Europe, have only one harvest per year and the farm size is relatively small in comparison with farms in France or Germany. They must compete in a free market, which is quite a challenge. Yet the Sicilian and North Karelian farmers have taken very different approaches to cope with the situation.
– In general, farms in North Karelia seem to be better equipped to face the challenge, even though the trade embargo to Russia hit them hard.
The farms are more modern, and the farmers more educated. I would say that they understand the challenges of the post-productive era, when simply producing food is not enough anymore.
– Finnish farmers understand the need to make changes to old strategies and expand their business from basic production.
But the Sicilian, more traditional approach also has its advantages.
– For example, almost all Sicilian farmers still make their own cheese. This can be an asset, when consumers want more localized products with traceable and traditional origins. Finnish farms are more like production plants, with less actual products made on the premises.
Rizzo is a research fellow at the University of Eastern Finland – the same university where he earned his Master’s and PhD degrees. There he not only gets to teach and research, but he also aims at communicating his findings directly to local farmers and unions.
His key policy recommendation is to better integrate farming and rural development. This could be achieved by increasing the farmers’ knowledge by ensuring plenty of communication with other operators in the countryside. Especially important is to develop new ventures, so that farmers can expand their networks not only with other farmers, but also with other interest groups.
–This is something that must be done. If we want to keep rural areas alive, we need to have farms – if dairy farming went, what would remain? he asks.
Therefore, the farmers deserve the best information available.
– The scene is changing. Farms are becoming bigger, and the farmer’s identity is changing more and more towards that of an entrepreneur. They need to know what is happening.
This also reflects the differences Rizzo sees between Italian and Finnish farmers. As Finns are more active, they are more likely to engage with bottom-up solutions, whereas in Italy new policies are usually implemented from top-down by politicians.
Rizzo has also worked as a research and development advisor at the Mikkeli University of Applied Sciences. His job focused on developing the research and development scheme in universities of applied sciences by increasing the exchange of knowledge between the universities and working life.
– I think that the system used in universities of the applied sciences is a very good one. Academic universities should have more co-operation with the universities of applied sciences.
In addition to his research work, Rizzo is also active in Eurodoc, the European Council of Doctoral Candidates and Junior Researchers. Eurodoc is an umbrella organisation for 32 different organisations across Europe, trying to communicate the best practises across the academia.
Rizzo is now part of the Eurodoc board for the first year.
– I’m quite surprised at how meaningful it has been. As a student, I thought that when you work in academia, you should only do academia. Through Eurodoc, I am now aware of how the purpose and value of the doctorate has fundamentally changed, with more and more graduates working outside the academia.
In Eurodoc Rizzo has contributed to a new policy paper which focuses on replacing the European credit transfer system with one based on learning outcomes.
– In Europe there are several academic systems, and what is required for a master’s degree or a post graduate position varies. We are trying to come up with a system where the focus lies in a person’s abilities instead of the number of credits. The proposition is not without its pitfalls, but it should help harmonize the system.
Rizzo is also a member of Eurodoc’s working group on PhD training, trying to share the best practices around Europe.
Eurodoc holds an annual conference for its member organisations. The 2017 conference is held in Oslo, but 2018 is likely to bring the conference to Tampere.
– It’s not official yet, but I’m quite confident it’s going to happen, tells Rizzo, who has been lobbying for Finland to host the conference.
He himself has settled here quite well. He has Finnish citizenship in addition to the Italian one, and right now he is on paternity leave with his second child.
– I don’t think I would have been able to do this had I worked in an Italian university. The welfare state is stronger in Finland.
Text: Juha Merimaa
Photos: Milla Talassalo