– Our vision is that the University College will be the leading institution of higher education and research both in Sápmi and in the indigenous world, Sámi University College headmaster Jelena Porsanger says.
The University College, situated at WITBC venue Diehtosiida, has been accreditated to World Indigenous Nations Higher Education Consortium , which provides an International forum and support for indigenous peoples to pursue common goals through higher education.
– We are admired of many indigenous institutions around the world because we use Sámi as a language of instruction in our teaching, research and administration, Porsanger says.
The Sámi University College has offered higher education in journalism in Sámi for several years. The journalism program leans on the broad knowledge of the institution, within areas such as philoshopy, indigenous issues, social sciences and language. WITBC is a dream for the Bachelor class.
– We are looking forward to meeting speakers that we haven’t dreamt of, leading researchers within indigenous journalism and guests working all over the world, Torkel Ramussen, head of the journalist education, says.
Nothing like it
Several in-house Sámi academics are close to a doctorate in journalism. Professor and minority media expert Tom Moring from the University of Helsinki serves part time as professor II at the Sámi University College.
He is preparing a possible master’s degree in indigenous journalism together with associate professor Lia Markelin, also working part time at the University College, and professor Charles Husband at the Ethnicity and social policy research unit of University of Bradford in England.
– As far as we know there is nothing like it being offered anywhere else in the world, Tom Moring says.
Journalism is quite a large part of the Sámi society today, and this calls for continous efforts within education and research to raise the level of competence among the group of people using the Sámi language, according to Moring.
– We would like Sámi University College, as an unique international institution within indigenous education and indigenous co-operation, to make a larger effort. That’s why we have developed a master’s program that not only can serve the Sámi, but also indigenous journalism in every part of the world, he says.
The plans for the masters program has met broad acclaim.
– We believe that indigenous students will return to their environment after finishing the degree and play a leading, progressive role in their society with regards to journalism. We hope that a small part will continue with research.
Guovdageadnu/Kautokeino can offer something that may serve the whole of the indigenous culture globally.
– We imagine that about half of our students will be Sámi, and the others working within indigenous media. Furthermore - if available capacity - we will welcome candidates without indigenous background but with academic interest with regards to research in this field.
The master’s thesis can be scientific or more practical, and the students may use Sámi or English language in their studies.
– The most important unique offering will be the perspective. Every educational institution in the world with a journalism program has is own perspective. A lot in journalism is general and universal, but a program in Norway, Sweden or Finland differs from a program in England, France or Russia in many different ways. Various frames of reference, learning goals and media landscapes.
– In addition to this, we have what we may call the ethos of the program, the ethical fundament of the journalism. In many ways there is a demand for the indigenous society in the world. The dominating cultures are entering the areas of the indigenous cultures, and there is a need for a conscious indigenous journalism to provide a culturally sustainable solution model for media working in indigenous languages. Also, ways of expression from the majority population in countries such as England and USA is overrunning the ways of expression that have been developed within the indigenous cultures. It is important to develop an own journalism within the indigenous way of expression.
– Personally I think that a newsroom functions ideally if half of the journalists have an education within journalism, and the other half have a different academic background. This creates a dialogue within the organization, Tom Moring says.
The University college is looking to become a Specialized University Institution. If approved by the educational authority in Norway, and the University College green light the master program, the first 15 master students might be admitted autumn 2015.