The Åland Islands Peace Institute has developed a university-level e-course on territorial autonomy, with the Åland Example as a main case study. The course was held successfully for the first time in the spring term of 2015, in co-operation with the Open University on Åland. A new round of the course, with students from all over the world, was completed in summer 2016. A new course is planned to be given in autumn 2017. More information shall be available in April 2017.
More information, regarding the 2017 version of the course, in pdf here.
The course approaches territorial autonomy from an interdisciplinary perspective, focusing on law and political science. The aim is to provide participants with a broad academic framework for discussing territorial autonomy from different perspectives, among others against the background of concepts such as self-determination, power-sharing and minority rights. The course includes modules on the demilitarisation and neutralisation, the autonomy regime as well the cultural and linguistic safeguards pertaining to Åland. A focus will be on the development of the regime over time, including more recent shifts in the regime. The course will also discuss the relevance of territorial autonomy as a possible tool for conflict resolution.
The course is strongly based on the current academic discourses touching upon territorial autonomy, to which the Åland Islands Peace Institute has been able to contribute, among others through its latest publication “The Åland Example and its Components - Relevance for International Conflict Resolution” (2011) and a special edition of the International Journal for Minority and Group Rights (vol. 20, 2013).
"The course was very interesting and gave me many new perspectives. It was particularly exciting to read documents from 1917-1921 when the Åland Islands Question was solved, and to get an overview of the international agreements that affect Åland today," says Ida Jansson, who participated in the course during its pilot run in spring 2015.
The course is open for participants from all over the world. It is first and foremost designed for university students but everyone is welcome to register for one of the 20 places offered.
“There a great international interest in diversity questions, in the Åland Example and how territorial autonomy can be used as a tool for conflict resolution. We are receiving requests from e.g. Kashmir, Thailand and Indonesia. There is also curiosity in the Nordic countries on how autonomy solutions work in practice. Not everyone who is interested has the possibility to come to Åland and the Peace Institute does neither have the capacity to receive everyone. So, this course is a way to share the knowledge we have gathered”, says Associate Professor Sia Spiliopoulou Åkermark, who will teach the course this coming spring. Sia is currently on leave from her job as the Director of the Peace Institute in order to lead the new research project “Demilitarisation in an increasingly militarized world. International perspectives in a multilevel framework – the case of the Åland Islands.”