Lauren Bouvier Traveled From Scotland to Attend Lecture in Helsinki: “Humak’s COSM Courses Expanded My Definition of Culture Immensely“

Iloinen piirretty hahmo, jolla on monta kättä ja ne huitovat eri suuntiin.

In May 2022, Lauren Bouvier traveled 1,000 miles from Scotland to Helsinki as part of her engagement with Humak’s COSM courses. When it was first announced that the last lecture of the COSM course would be potentially held in person, she seized the opportunity in order to deepen her knowledge in her field, grow her self-confidence to travel, and learn about a new culture. In the end, she was left with a new, much broader outlook on culture.

In January 2022, an email asked students of the Arts, Festival, and Cultural Management Master’s program at the Queen Margaret University (QMU) in Edinburgh to engage with the COSM courses through Humak University of Applied Sciences. After reading the description, QMU student Lauren Bouvier knew that the program was a great fit for her. The topics of interest dived directly into her field of interest: Festival Management, and career interest in organizational leadership and sustainable practices.

Culture, Organisation & Sustainability Management, COSM for short, is a series of courses focused on cultural management and organizational change regarding a wide range of sustainability values. COSM consists of three courses, each of which focuses on different aspects of culture and sustainability. The courses are closely connected by the central theme of developing new and sustainable processes for cultural management.

Alexandra Pool, a student of COSM, says that the course changed her view on cultural management.
Sustainable cultural management is a theme in Humak’s Master’s level COSM courses.

1,000 Miles of Travel for Broad, Diverse, and International COSM

Lauren’s interest in COSM grew immensely when she learned just how broad the scope of reach the program made around the world. Students and presenters represented a plethora of countries and experiences.

“The natural progression of my knowledge and framework regarding theories of culture encompassed the material of the COSM three-course module,” Lauren explains.

When Lauren began the course, Senior Lecturer Marcin Poprawski mentioned the last meeting of the course could potentially be held in person. Though there was a 1,000-mile trek between Scotland and Helsinki, Lauren wanted to attend. Her plan was facilitated by The Student & Vice-Chancellor’s Development Fund contributed by alumni of QMU to support current students towards their academic, personal, and vocational goals.

“Applying for the grant presented me with the opportunity to plan and prepare my trip well in advance,” Lauren says.

A large, white Helsinki sign pictured from the front. There is a park in the background and a dark-haired woman is standing beneath it with jeans and a hoodie on.
Besides her move from the United States to Scotland, traveling to Finland was Lauren’s first solo excursion.

In-Person Attendance Was Worth the Travel

In Helsinki, Lauren got to meet other students in person as well as the teaching staff. Marcin Poprawski hosted the four-hour lecture, accommodating both online and in-person students. Lauren’s experience was deepened through presenting her group project with the other members present in the room.

“The four lectures flew by in person,” says Lauren. “The conversations, I believe, were stronger and more robust than online.”

Additionally, Lauren had the opportunity to meet with Marcin in person to discuss the course and the next steps – an experience that she felt would be incredibly different online. According to Lauren, her future within the Arts and Cultural sector will integrate the material and presentations from the COSM series.

“My definition of culture expanded immensely and will support my future academic work”, she adds. “I do believe that the opportunity to partake in the courses supported my other academic projects as well.”

A piece of art in a showcase.
In Helsinki, Lauren enjoyed particularly The Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma and the Helsinki Central Library Oodi.

Experiencing the City of Helsinki for the First Time

Lauren also got to explore the city of Helsinki. As part of her excursion, she visited museums and galleries such as Kiasma, Amos Rex, the Museum of Helsinki, and the Vantaa Art Gallery. Furthermore, she visited must-see locations such as the Helsinki Cathedral, Uspenski Cathedral, Suomenlinna and the Sibelius Monument. Lauren also visited the Oodi Library and was surprised and impressed with the scale of resources available.

“My personal favorite feature of the Oodi Library included the instrument rental service for residents,” tells Lauren. “Architecturally, the building created an immense presence and housed a range of services.”

After viewing the library, Lauren visited the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma.

“One key difference between my previous experiences in the UK and US is the use of audio-visual exhibits,” Lauren explains. “The Kiasma housed at least one audio-visual exhibition per level. The sheer range of the mediums represented at the museum was incredible.”

Overall, the entire experience has been positive in more ways than one for Lauren.

“If a student in the course has an opportunity to meet the team and see Helsinki, I highly recommend it,” says Lauren. “It was a pleasure to meet everyone and to see Helsinki.”

A picture of the Sibelius monument with a blue sky and green trees in the background.
Lauren also visited the Sibelius Monument and was impressed with the public transportation.

Read more about Lauren’s journey in her blog post here.

Text: Lauren Bouvier, Mari Ervasti