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Latest podcast – Finland’s fight against Russian cyber attacks

Fake news and cyber attacks are helping undermine democracy, legitimise extremist views, push groundless conspiracy theories and provide cover for propaganda by rich individuals and states. But one country is fighting back. And winning. A study by the European Policies Initiative puts Finland top of 35 countries in ‘post-truth’ resilience. Denmark was second and Sweden fourth. The UK was 10th. What’s their secret? Jussi Toivanen is a former adviser to the Finnish PM on media literacy and was recently appointed Head of Communications at Finland’s National Cyber Security Centre. He’s the main speaker in this podcast, produced from an online NH meeting in October 2022. We also hear from Chris Silver – a researcher and PhD student on memory and the Scottish press – and Claire...Read More

NEW PODCAST; The future is cooperative

While Britain struggles with sky-high bills, and private water, electricity and oil companies make record profits, Finland relies on a unique system of economic shock absorbers. Cooperatives deliver everything from water and electricity to luxury hotel breaks. They started in the late 1800s and there are more cooperative memberships today than Finns – or saunas. How does it work? Lesley Riddoch’s been to Finland to find out. NB The picture shows the wooden wash-handbasins and baths that feature in the Solo Sokos Hotel in Lahti. It may be part of the huge S-Group cooperative with more than 3 million members but is still a uniquely local operation. With thanks to Risto Turanen, Kari Huhtala, VisitFinland, Finnair and Sokos Hotels.

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

New – The Nordic Horizons Explainer Podcast

It’s twelve years since Dan Wynn and Lesley Riddoch set up a think tank to focus on the policy successes of Scotland’s Nordic neighbours. Since then, Nordic Horizons has organised almost 70 meetings – most of them in person until the pandemic lockdown in 2020. Now Nordic Horizons meets online – less disruption and travel for speakers and more access for Scots living outside Edinburgh. We’re also producing monthly podcasts of recent events and edited versions of some ‘Golden Oldies’ – including a talk about Norway’s education system where children attend kindergarten (often outdoor) until the age of six – a school starting age the SNP conference is set to discuss in October 2022. It seems many lessons learned over the past decade a...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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