Walking along the banks of the river Aurajoki late at night, Peter Kivisto feels at home.
Kivisto’s cooperation with the University of Turku already began in 1984. As a result, Auvo Kostinen, nowadays a professor of General History, has become one of his closest friends.
– I enjoy Finland during the summertime; I enjoy this country during the wintertime. This is my second home, says Kivisto.
Grandfather’s Home Farm Awaits a Visit
The connection to the University of Turku has reconnected Kivisto to the land that his grandfather left behind for the land beyond the Atlantic.
– My cultural heritage is half Finnish, half Cornish. My relationship with my relatives in Great Britain is close and I have often visited them. I haven’t known my Finnish relatives at all, tells Kivisto.
The beginning of the year brought him another surprise besides being selected for an honorary doctorate. He was contacted by a second cousin living in Jalasjärvi and interested in genealogy.
– He is conducting genealogical research and invited me for a visit. After the Doctoral Conferment Ceremony, my wife, sister and I will travel to the farm that my grandfather left as a 19-year-old to go to the United States. The farm is still in the family, says Kivisto.
A Sociologist in the World of Humanities
In contrast to the other faculties, the Faculty of Humanities will only confer one Honorary Doctor, Kivisto, who is not even a humanist but a sociologist. Kivisto laughs cheerfully as he says that usually people assume him to be a humanist and he is fine with that.
– Sociologists still had a bit of a shady reputation in the 1980s and I was fine with being mistaken for a humanist, Kivisto smiles.
He praises the University of Turku for its open-mindedness in breaking the barriers between faculties already in the 1980s.
– In many other countries, it would have been inconceivable, says Kivisto.
Kivisto, who has researched multiculturalism, has cooperated without problems with historians, as well as with sociologists; the fruits of that labour are being reaped presently. Kivisto has made in conjunction with Finnish researchers no less than three books, which will be published this year.
Since the first visit, Kivisto has returned to Turku time after time, at times as a researcher, at times as a visiting professor. Currently, his dream is to help Keijo Virtanen to establish in Turku a Research Institute of the United States of America.
– I will continue to return here, Kivisto vows.
The University Confers 13 Honorary Doctors in May
According to present knowledge, 115 Doctors and 13 Honorary Doctors will take part in the Doctoral Conferment Ceremony of the University of Turku. Compared to previous degree ceremonies, the focus in the selection of this year’s Honorary Doctors has been on their scientific accomplishments.
Besides Kivisto, the Honorary Doctor of the Faculty of Humanities, the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences confers Jaan Einasto, an Estonian academic, and Professor Li-Rong Zheng from the Fudan University, China.
The Faculty of Medicine confers Professor Terry Dwyer from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, Australia, and Professor Malcolm G. Parker from the Institute of Reproductive & Development, England.
The Faculty of Law confers Judge of the European Court of Justice Allan Rosas and Professor Juha Karhu from the University of Lapland.
The Turku School of Economics confers Professor Paul M. Healy from Harvard Business School and a Finnish Independent Director Seppo Remes.
The Faculty of Social Sciences confers Docent Erkki Tuomioja, the Finnish Minister for Foreign Affairs and Professor Jaap Dronkers from the Maastricht University, The Netherlands.
The Faculty of Education confers Professor Roger Säljö from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden and Agnès van Zanten, the Research Director of the Paris Institute of Political Science, France.
More information on the Doctoral Conferment Ceremony
Text and photograph: Erja Hyytiäinen
Translation: Anniina Väisänen