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Podcast; Jean Sibelius – Finland’s musical genius

This is a Nordic Horizons podcast with a difference. It isn’t about policy, politics, climate change or kindergarten – it’s about culture. And the enduring cultural impact of a very exceptional Finn. Some clues. Which famous composer heard different musical notes when he glimpsed different colours? Which composer was at the heart of his country’s successful bid for independence but grew reluctant to have his early work performed to avoid being dismissed as ‘just a romantic nationalist’? And which composer inspired the creation of Finland’s largest wooden concert hall and the world’s first orchestral live-stream? The answer is Jean Sibelius, 1865-1957. This special podcast was recorded and produced by Nordic Horizons Director Lesley Riddoch on...Read More

Film: Outdoor kindergarten in Arctic Norway

At long last, outdoor nurseries and kindergartens are getting some official encouragement in Scotland. Pioneers like the Secret Garden in Fife and about a dozen others have offered an alternative to indoor early life for over a decade. But now Inspiring Scotland’s been funded by the Scottish Government to work with eight councils setting up new outdoor play projects. The need to get kids moving and enjoying outdoor activity is urgent. Five years ago, a study of 38 nations ranked Scotland joint last for physical activity, while childhood obesity levels here continue to rise, with a quarter of five-year-olds deemed to be at risk of becoming seriously overweight. So what does the future look like? Maybe a bit like Norwegian kindergarten today – minus the snow. So here’s a sa...Read More

4. Podcast: Get oot to play – school can wait

How would you measure success in the early years of a child’s education? In the Bukkespranget Norwegian kindergarten (where children aged 1-6 play outdoors in all weathers) they ask two simple questions. Does the child ask for more and do the parents tell stories? Note – no tests. All this play contrasts with Scotland’s formal school-based education for 5 year-olds – even though academic research shows children learn sharing, communication, cooperation, creativity and confidence  long before they can sit still enough to begin formal education. The urge to stuff the three R’s into 4 and 5 year-old brains may be understandable in a competitive, dog-eat-dog world – but it’s not rational, helpful, productive or kind. Certainly, at seven the ‘force-fed’ kids of Scotland ...Read More

Heating homes without gas – the Nordic way

None of Scotland’s Nordic neighbours depends on gas for heating – but 85% of homes in Scotland do. Why the big difference? How did Nordic nations jump the green heating hurdle & should Scotland fix its energy crisis by installing district heating like Sweden and Denmark – or go electric like Norway? These were some of the big climate questions tackled by Nordic Horizons speakers, in our COP26 Verdict event, held straight after COP26 in November 2021. This 50 minute podcast of the COP 26 – Nordic Verdict event tackles all these big questions with contributions from Viktoria Raft, a former energy journalist and co-founder of the gender equality network for women in energy, Kraftkvinnorna; Tore Furevik, Professor in physical oceanography at the Geophysical Institut...Read More

PODCAST: NATO membership for Finland & Sweden – the end of Baltic neutrality??

This podcast was produced after a fascinating online Nordic Horizons meeting in March 2022, eight weeks before the Swedish and Finnish premiers announced their intention to join NATO. It explores their fears about Russian intervention during the accession process when both states might be vulnerable to attack, their reasons for not originally joining NATO along with neighbours Denmark and Norway in the 1950s and fears that a change in US President might make NATO a less stable long-term bet than it currently appears. Nordic Horizons · NATO, Nordics and Russian Aggression Our speakers – 3 Nordic experts and one Scot discuss opinion polls suggesting most Swedes and Finns want to join NATO and predict whether that will happen. They consider how well Nordic non-alignment has worked for 7...Read More

NEW PODCAST Powerful pint-sized Nordic democracy

Scotland has the largest units of ‘local’ government in the developed world with just 32 councils for 5.3 million folk. Norway has almost 400 councils for roughly the same population. The Faroes – with fewer folk than Falkirk – has 29 local councils. What difference does that make to dynamism and democracy? Don’t small councils run the risk of nepotism, inefficiency and high costs? Listen as Lesley Riddoch chairs a discussion recorded just before Scotland’s local elections in May 2022 with with Norway’s State Secretary for Local Government Ole Gustav Narud, and Dennis Holm, the former Mayor of Vágur on the Faroes island of Suðuroy.   More info The EU average council has a relatively meagre 10 thousand inhabitants. And Vágur, on the isolated southern...Read More

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