History of the Faculty of Humanities

A short faculty history since 1958, based on a book published in October.


Ossi Päärnilä (2008)

From “Glowing Spirit” to Information Strategies

Five Decades of Humanities in the University of Jyväskylä

Jyväskylä Studies in Humanities 106


In 1958, the Faculty of Philosophy was founded by the Government in the small College of Education in Jyväskylä, in order to increase the volume of teacher training, which in Jyväskylä had started as early as 1863. The Faculty was divided into two parts, educational and humanities, which later evolved into several different faculties. The College of Education had included a Finnish Department since 1936, but after 1958 the training of secondary school teachers, first in Finnish and Literature, History and Civics, German, Swedish and English started a rapid development towards a multidisciplinary university. In humanities, this happened in 1968, when the Faculty of Humanities was formally established.  

      In 1960’s and 1970’s the Faculty received new professorships in Ethnology, Art History, Musicology, French, Latin, Russian and Art Education. The small unit of Speech Techniques transformed into the Department of Speech and Communication Sciences during the late 1970’s and 1980’s. The Department of Music started teacher training in 1982, and the Journalist training began in 1987 in the then new Department of Communication. During the 1990's the Faculty had a total of 13 departments, divided mainly according to disciples and their single main professorships. In 2002 they were united into five large departments; Languages, History and Ethnology, Arts, Music and Communication. The Research Center of Applied Linguistics remained as the sixth department.     

      Much energy was wasted in the great degree reform of the 1970’s. The Government wanted to organize all higher education within professional programmes but, in the field of humanities this soon turned out to be impossible because, with the exception of teacher training, the graduates were employed to countless different occupational areas. The Faculty was among the most dissatisfied against Government plans and actively worked in favor of the new European two stage degree system, which, finally, introduced by the Government in 2005.

      The early 1990’s were economically hard times for Finnish universities because the Government’s budget decreased. The Faculty, however, succeeded in its saving measures and soon started several new study programmes, such as conservation, museology, intercultural communication and music therapy, supported with project funding.

      Since the late 1990’s, both the Faculty's degree and publication output has increased drastically without a significant growth in staff numbers. This is partly due to new managing ideas and practices as well as the use of information technology, especially in doctoral training, but also in the early exploitation of the two stage degree system. While the number of fresh students coming from upper secondary schools is expected to slowly decrease, recruiting to Master’s Degrees was successfully increased, mainly on the basis of studies and degrees in the Open University, other universities and polytechnics. The Master’s Programme in Archive Management was the University’s first (2007) cooperative product accomplished by the Jyväskylä-Tampere University Alliance.