Tartu University News

Coronavirus: guidelines and FAQ

21 hours 56 minutes ago
03.04.2020

Last updated 3.04.2020 (recent updates in red). 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS Please note! The situation may change rapidly.  Please follow the university’s as well as official information channels! These guidelines are continuously updated. The University of Tartu expects responsible conduct and compliance with all national guidelines in the state of emergency from all its academic organisations and students.

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

4 IMPORTANT MESSAGES

  1. Viruses do not travel by themselves, they are transported by people. Therefore – the less people travel, the less viruses spread.
  2. Virus transmission from person to person is facilitated by the close proximity of people in a room.
  3. To avoid coronavirus infection, the most important is what a person does or does not; it is not reasonable to hope for what other people do.
  4. Read from national emergency situation website about coronavirus, its prevention, symptoms and how it spreads.

 

REARRANGEMENT OF STUDIES

  1. Due to the state of emergency declared by the government of Estonia, face-to-face classes are canceled until the 1 May 2020. Instead, e-learning and other forms of distance learning will be used.
  2. The halls of residence will remain open for our students. The university recommends students living in residence halls to return home, if possible, but there are no restrictions to staying in residence halls.
  3. If there is no distance learning option available for the course, the university recommends rearranging it to provide the possibility of distance learning. Postponing studies until the situation normalises should be used only as a last resort. UT staff, please read here about the organisation of teaching and studies during the state of emergency. The recommendations for replacing face-to-face classes with online teaching will be certainly useful. Teaching staff can get help with planning their work from the academic developers of the Centre for Professional Development.
  4. If the studies require face-to-face classes, the course must be reorganised to provide online learning. Instead of lectures and seminars, video lectures and seminars can be offered. Practical classes must be either replaced by other forms of study or postponed, or creative solutions should be introduced to achieve the same objectives.
  5. There is no reason to postpone doctoral defences, but the number of people physically in the same room should be kept as small as possible. Foreign supervisors or opponents should participate via electronic means.
  6. The lecturer will inform the students who have registered for the course of the reorganisation of studies. The changes are recorded in the Study Information System, in the “Other information” field. UT students, we will bring all important changes together on the page for organisation of studies during emergency – information for students.

 

ADVICE ON TRAVELLING

  1. Staff and students must follow the travel advice given by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  2. Students who arrive from any foreign country from 12 March 2020 and live in student residence halls must stay in the building and inform the CEO of the Student Village (Urmas Peterson, info [ät] campus.ee) of their arrival.
  3. The university cancels all business trips abroad until 30 April 2020. New business trips abroad cannot be planned for travel until 30 April 2020. The costs related to the cancellation of business trips should be processed in cooperation with travel agencies and service providers. Costs related to projects should be processed in cooperation with the Grant Office and the Finance Office. The university will not reimburse staff for any costs incurred as a result of non-compliance with this order. The university is entitled to claim from staff members full compensation for the costs incurred due to non-compliance with this order. 
  4. Employees who arrive from abroad must contact their immediate supervisors at the earliest possibility and students must contact the academic affairs specialist of their institute; and agree about instructions for organising work or studies, respectively.
  5. The university recommends all employees to carefully consider the inevitability of international travel. If possible, planned trips should be cancelled because the likelihood of getting infected is higher during travelling. The university strongly recommends avoiding travel to foreign countries.
  6. The University of Tartu has decided to suspend all incoming and outgoing mobilities until 30th April 2020 or until further notice.

 

WHAT TO DO IF A STUDENT OR AN EMPLOYEE OF THE UNIVERSITY OF TARTU SUSPECTS HAVING CONTRACTED CORONAVIRUS? 

Based on recommendations by the Health Board

  1. Call your family physician or the family physicians’ helpline 1220 for advice. Do not go to the family health centre, as you would be a potential coronavirus transmitter.
  2. In case of a more serious health concern (difficulty breathing), call the emergency number 112. Do not go to the emergency department for help, as you might transmit the virus to other people at the department.
  3. When waiting for coronavirus test results or if the test came back positive, stay at home to prevent the spread of the virus.

 

CONTACTS

  • Tõnis Karki (Academic Secretary), +372 529 7917 
  • Viivika Eljand-Kärp (acting Head of Communications), +372 5354 0689 
  • Heiki Pagel (Head of Estates Office), +372 503 2021
  • Kristi Kuningas (Head of Human Resources Office), +372 509 8626
  • National coronavirus hotline 1247
Category: UniversityPress release
Kaja Karo (kajakk)

University of Tartu researchers study the spread of coronavirus in Estonia

22 hours 23 minutes ago
03.04.2020

An interdisciplinary research team of the University of Tartu is actively collecting, modelling and analysing data on the spread of coronavirus. The researchers invite people to participate in a study on the prevalence of COVID-19 to create a database for mapping and modelling the spread of the virus. The research group includes computer scientists, statisticians, mathematicians and medical, genetic and social scientists of the University of Tartu.

According to Jaak Vilo, Professor of Bioinformatics of the University of Tartu, the study aims to provide a database for mapping and modelling the COVID-19 disease caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, including the distribution of potentially infected persons by age, occupation and geographical location and its changes over time, as well as their differences from the general population.

The webpage of the study koroona.ut.ee includes a self-monitoring tool for people suspecting or diagnosed with the disease. “It is an anonymous diary in which the participants of the study can add new entries on when the symptoms appear or disappear, changes in their behaviour due to the quarantine and contacts with people diagnosed with COVID-19,” explained Vilo. He emphasises that the diary also allows describing past symptoms.

Hedi Peterson, Senior Research Fellow of Bioinformatics at the Institute of Computer Science of the University of Tartu, says that both asymptomatic people and those suspecting or diagnosed with infection are invited to participate in the study. “Knowledge of the possible contacts of asymptomatic people with infected people and their behavioural patterns in quarantine helps to apply the results to the entire population,” said Peterson. She adds that the more people participate in the study, the better it is to analyse the epidemiology and course of the disease on both individual and population level.

The study has been approved by the Ethics Committee of the University of Tartu and follows all the data protection rules of the University of Tartu.

The coronavirus prevalence study was initiated by Hedi Peterson and Jaak Vilo from the UT Institute of Computer Science, Krista Fischer from the UT Institute of Mathematics and Statistics, Irja Lutsar and Pärt Peterson from the UT Institute of Biomedicine and Translational Medicine, Andero Uusberg from the UT Institute of Psychology, Kristjan Vassil from the UT Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies and Lili Milani from the UT Institute of Genomics. The study is also supported by the UT High Performance Computing Centre, who provides necessary hardware.

On the web page koroona.ut.ee, the Bioinformatics, Algorithmics and Data Mining Group BIIT of the Institute of Computer Science has also created an online tool for the comparison of COVID-19 trajectories worldwide, giving an overview of the impact of the disease in different countries. In the future, this page will also host other tools and reports created by the researchers of the University of Tartu. It already has the first version of the SEIAHR prognostic model, a slightly more complex variant of the SEIR epidemiological model, that takes into account the reproduction number of infection at different periods, the period of infection, the proportion of people needing treatment, etc.

The development of tools is coordinated by Professor Jaak Vilo and Senior Research Fellow Hedi Peterson. The tools are developed by doctoral students of the workgroup Kaido Lepik and Joonas Puura and research software engineers Ivan Kuzmin, Uku Raudvere and Erik Jaaniso. Several members of the BIIT research group are among the researchers who model the virus prevalence data and thus support the research council of the national crisis committee.

Further information: 
Jaak Vilo, UT Head of the Institute of Computer Science, 504 9365, jaak.vilo [ät] ut.ee
Hedi Peterson, UT Senior Research Fellow of Bioinformatics, hedi.peterson [ät] ut.ee

Category: Research
Kaja Karo (kajakk)

University of Tartu researcher to study inequality in prehistoric Europe

1 day 2 hours ago
03.04.2020

To find out about politics and inequality in prehistoric Europe, the prominent European Research Council (ERC) awarded researchers of three countries with a grant of nearly two million euros in total. To obtain new information, the researchers will use novel research methods and thereby bring together ancient life and death.

The five-year research that received the grant from the European Research Council is led by John Robb, Professor of European Prehistory in the Department of Archaeology at the University of Cambridge.

Professor Robb's project entitled "ANCESTORS – Making Ancestors: The Politics of Death in Prehistoric Europe" receives €1.94m in funding. The project takes the osteobiographical methods developed in the “After the Plague” project and the taphonomy methods developed in the Scaloria Cave project and applies them to a major theoretical problem in European prehistory – the nature of community and the rise of inequality.

John Robb says, ''This project is really exciting and I’ll be working with wonderful colleagues Dr Christiana ‘Freddi’ Scheib at the University of Tartu and Dr Mary Anne Tafuri at Sapienza University of Rome.

Christiana Lyn Scheib, Senior Research Fellow of Ancient DNA in the Institute of Genomics of the University of Tartu, has nearly €700,000 at her disposal in the project. According to Scheib, the grant helps to study inequality in prehistoric Europe, which is necessary to understand how our distant ancestors lived and what kind of society they lived in. “It will give us information regarding how the organisation of society has changed over time.”

Prehistory here denotes the period between the introduction of agriculture and the first written records.

Christiana Lyn Scheib.
Allikas: Lumiere stuudio

In the course of the project the researchers analyse the DNA, skeletons and funeral customs of 400 people who lived in prehistoric times. The subjects of research come from three historical periods covering the Neolithic or the Later Stone Age (6000–4000 BC) and the periods from the end of the Stone Age to Early Bronze Age (4000–1800 BC) and from Intermediate Bronze Age to Iron Age (1800–600 BC).

“The results of the analysis enable us for the first time to estimate how inequality influenced prehistoric Europe and what the role of our ancestors was in it,” said Senior Research Fellow Scheib. “No research studies of this kind have ever been conducted,” she said.

Scheib explained that before the development of states, inequality did not depend so much on political power or wealth as on a variety of other factors. “Inequality may have existed in the entire prehistoric Europe, but this new perspective has never been empirically tested before,” she added.

Director of the Institute of Genomics Mait Metspalu said that the competition for ERC research grants is tough and the award of the grant is a major recognition for the University of Tartu and a significant event for the whole Estonia.

Metspalu considers this research important primarily because it takes a step further from the questions that have been asked in DNA research for some time already: where did a group of people come and where, with whom, and how much they mixed. Instead, this soon-to-start project raises the question how these people were doing and what their life was like. “It takes us closer to human understanding of those who lived in the prehistoric times,” Metspalu said.

University of Tartu ERC research grants

So far, five researchers of the University of Tartu have received the grant of the European Research Council. Among them, Professor of Nanomedicine Tambet Teesalu has been awarded the grant twice. The first was the ERC starting grant (2012–2016), and the second was a proof of concept grant (2018–2019), which Teesalu used for commercialising the smart anticancer drug. Developed at the University of Tartu, this anticancer drug, when injected into blood vessels, will find cancer cells and leave healthy tissue unharmed.

The very first ERC grant in Estonia and the University of Tartu was awarded to Professor Lauri Mälksoo. From 2009–2019 he used the half-a-million euro grant for Russia studies. Mälksoo studied the effect of the decreasingly liberal government of the Russian Federation on the doctrine of international law and its application.

Mart Loog uses his ERC Consolidator Grant to develop molecular signal processors for synthetic biology applications.

Professor Marlon Dumas uses the €2m grant from the ERC for making artificial intelligence improve and lead business processes, and Professor Dominique Unruh his €1.7m grant to develop Estonia's public e-services and improve their cybersecurity.

Further information:
Christiana Lyn Scheib, Senior Research Fellow of Ancient DNA, Estonian Biocentre, Institute of Genomics of the University of Tartu, +372 737 5053, christiana.lyn.scheib [ät] ut.ee
Mait Metspalu, Director of Institute of Genomics, Research Professor of Evolutionary Genomics, Estonian Biocentre, Institute of Genomics, University of Tartu, +372 528 3315, mait.metspalu [ät] ut.ee

Sandra Sommer Press Officer Tel: +(372) 737 5681
Mob: +(372) 5307 7820 sandra.sommer [ät] ut.ee
www.ut.ee

 

Category: Research
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)

Geneticists are bringing personalised medicine closer to recently admixed individuals

2 days 2 hours ago
02.04.2020

A new study in Nature Communications proposes a method to extend polygenic scores, the estimate of genetic risk factors and a cornerstone of the personalised medicine revolution, to individuals with multiple ancestral origins. The study was led by Dr Davide Marnetto from the Institute of Genomics of the University of Tartu, Estonia and coordinated by Dr Luca Pagani from the same institution and from the University of Padova, Italy.

“The information contained in our DNA is a mosaic of genetic instructions inherited from our ancestors, and in many societies one’s ancestors often come from the opposite corners of the world,” says Dr Davide Marnetto, the first author of the study. The contribution of one’s ancestry, or ancestries, to the total risk of developing a specific disease or presenting a given trait is a long standing question of medical genomics. Nevertheless, most of the genotype/phenotype association data come from relatively uniform populations, in order to have a simplified and clearer picture. But what can be done when dealing with individuals who derive their ancestry from two or more distantly related populations? “The latest developments of personalised medicine needed an extra step to be applied to individuals with more diverse origins, and here we tried to combine knowledge from homogeneous populations into a model that could work for recently admixed individuals,” continues Dr Marnetto.

To separate the various genomic components of each individual, Marnetto and colleagues applied methods from molecular anthropology and population genomics. “This research is a welcomed example of deep synergy between evolutionary/population genetics framework and medically oriented large scale genomics science, which is one of the focuses of our institute,” says Dr Mait Metspalu who is heading the Institute of Genomics at the University of Tartu.

“Our work provides a solid proof of principle on the feasibility of using population genetic and molecular anthropology to boost the potential of personalised medicine. I hope our work can bring individuals of mixed ancestry one step closer to the benefits of personalised and predictive healthcare,” concludes Dr Luca Pagani, the research coordinator.

The genome from an admixed individual (blue/red) is separated into the two main ancestral components (ancestry deconvolution). Mutations associated with diseases or phenotypic traits on each component (black dots) are studied separately and two ancestry-specific partial polygenic scores (A and B) are computed using information from population-specific genome-wide association studies (GWAS). The two ancestry-specific partial polygenic scores are then combined together to obtain the individual’s ancestry-specific polygenic score. The visual was made by Davide Marnetto.

Further information:
Davide Marnetto, Research Fellow of Population Genetics at the University of Tartu Institute of Genomics, +372 5395 8881, davide.marnetto [ät] ut.ee
Luca Pagani, Senior Research Fellow of Population Genetics at the University of Tartu Institute of Genomics and Associate Professor at the University of Padova Department of Biology, +3934 0786 2518, +3904 9827 6290, luca.pagani [ät] ut.ee

Sandra Sommer Press Officer Tel: +(372) 737 5681
Mob: +(372) 5307 7820 sandra.sommer [ät] ut.ee
www.ut.ee

 

Category: Research
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)

Satisfaction survey among doctoral students starts on Thursday

1 week ago
27.03.2020

From 2 April to 4 May, all doctoral students of the UT are invited to share their opinion on their studies to help the university plan changes in doctoral studies.

The University of Tartu is planning major changes in doctoral studies in the coming years. The vision for the development of doctoral studies has been prepared. The requirements for doctoral theses are being updated. Besides, the university has supplemented the doctoral students’ income by the performance stipend.

Now, all doctoral students have the chance to influence the direction of the planned changes. For that, all doctoral students are asked to respond to the survey on their satisfaction with doctoral studies at the UT. Invitation to participate in the survey will be sent by e-mail to all doctoral students on 2 April. The survey will close on 4 May 2020.

The survey is organised by the UT Centre for Applied Social Sciences (CASS) in cooperation with the Office of Academic Affairs. In addition to the survey, the Office of Academic Affairs and the Rector’s Strategy Office are using UT databases to analyse the general situation of doctoral studies at the university.

Additional information: Monika Tasa, Project manager of the survey, monika.tasa [ät] ut.ee

Category: University
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)

Books can be borrowed again from the University of Tartu Library

1 week 3 days ago
25.03.2020

Although the University of Tartu Library is closed due to the emergency situation, users can again request books via the e-catalogue ESTER starting today, 25 March. The requested books can be picked up from smart lockers in the lobby of the library.

It is possible to request and borrow books that are marked as “available” in the online catalogue ESTER. Library staff will place requested books into smart lockers in the library lobby next to the main entrance (Struve 1). The lockers are accessible from Monday to Friday 12–17, and user need their ID card or library card to receive the books. As the number of lockers is limited, the waiting time for the requested books can extend up to three days.

The library started developing temporary borrowing solutions immediately after the emergency situation was announced in Estonia. “This Monday we tested the reliability of this quickly set up system, and everything worked,” said the Director of the UT Library, Krista Aru. “This is the best solution we can offer in this complicated situation without risk to anyone's health.”

Hand sanitisers will be provided next to the lockers. Borrowers are asked to enter the lobby one by one and sanitise their hands before and after taking the books from the locker. The library also asks users to keep within the limited zone in the lobby.

Read the instructions for borrowing books in the emergency situation.

Further information: Olga Einasto, Head of Service Department, University of Tartu Library, 553 7982, olga.einasto [ät] ut.ee

Sandra Sommer Press Officer Tel: +(372) 737 5681
Mob: +(372) 5307 7820 sandra.sommer [ät] ut.ee
www.ut.ee

 

Category: UniversityPress release
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)

VIDEO: Briefing on distance work at the University of Tartu: Week 1

1 week 4 days ago
24.03.2020

On Tuesday there was a briefing on distance work at the University of Tartu, which looked back at last week.

Erkki Leego, Chief Digital Officer at the University of Tartu, gave overview of guidelines of remote working and top tips after 1. week of total distance working and learning.

Before and during the briefing, everyone had the opportunity to ask questions that were answered by e-learning and IT professionals.

The breafing recording is available to be watched in the Teams Event Lives and the slides can be found here.

Futher information: Erkki Leego, University of Tartu Chief Digital Officer, erkki.leego [ät] ut.ee

Category: University
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)

On 20 March the UT leaders will answer university members’ questions regarding the changes introduced due to the emergency situation

2 weeks 1 day ago
20.03.2020

On Friday, 20 March, at 14:00 there will be a video broadcast on the university website, where the rector and members of the Rector’s Office of the University of Tartu give an overview of the reorganisation of work at the university during the emergency situation, and answer questions sent by university members. 

In the broadcast, Rector Toomas Asser, Academic Secretary Tõnis Karki and Vice Rector for Academic Affairs Aune Valk will speak about the new organisation of work.

All university staff and students are welcome to ask questions

We apologise for the technical delay of the webcast. The video was recorded this morning and you can watch it at a suitable time starting from approximately 3 pm. We will do our best to bring the information to you as soon as possible.

 

Category: University
Kaja Karo (kajakk)

University of Tartu students can graduate despite the emergency situation

2 weeks 1 day ago
20.03.2020

Aune Valk, Vice Rector for Academic Affairs of the University of Tartu, confirms that life at the university goes on despite the emergency situation and high-quality teaching and research activities continue. The university is ready to provide individual solutions to difficulties students may face.

Valk says that nobody should worry that they cannot graduate or defend their thesis because of the emergency situation. The same can be said about the entrance to the university: everybody who wants to start their studies at the university will get a chance to apply.

Due to the emergency situation, the University of Tartu had to cancel the academic test scheduled for 21 March and 4 April, but this does not concern all applicants.

“It is a pity that we had to cancel the academic test. This year, a record number of people – more than 2500 – planned to take the test. This demonstrates great interest in studying at the University of Tartu,“ said Valk, and added: “The only way is to move on with life and find new solutions”.

Whether the university will organise the academic test in early summer for admission under special conditions will be decided by 1 May at the latest. “If we have to make more changes to admissions to bachelor’s studies, we will inform the public at the first opportunity,” promised Valk. Admissions to master’s and doctoral studies are planned to follow the announced timeframe.

Work at the university is organised with the aim not to let the emergency situation interfere with anyone’s plan to graduate. “We are ready to postpone graduations and defences to August if it comes to that. Doctoral defences are done by video broadcast,” said the Vice Rector for Academic Affairs.

She admits that organising practical courses normally taking place in a laboratory, hospital or another face-to-face setting is the greatest challenge in the current situation. Many questions are coming from foreign students and students temporarily abroad. “We are trying to find individual solutions to all difficulties students may face,” affirmed Valk, emphasising that high-quality teaching and research activities at the University of Tartu continue despite the emergency situation declared by the government.

Lehti Pilt, Senior Specialist for Educational Technology of the University of Tartu, agrees: “Even before the emergency situation was declared, about 70% of courses of the University of Tartu had online support, and we are strongly moving forward in this direction. For instance, over the last weekend, 30 new e-courses were created, helping students to acquire knowledge by distance learning.”

“To substitute face-to-face classes with e-learning and to better support students’ individual work, our teaching staff members are working hard to add online support to their courses. Online seminar tool is used for almost 360 e-courses of the University of Tartu and about one hundred courses that did not have video lectures before have now started recording them,” described Pilt.

Also, the University of Tartu continues to offer e-learning opportunities for pupils and adult learners. Several interesting massive open online courses are starting in the coming weeks, free for everybody: “Artificial Intelligence Entry-level Course” (in Estonian), “Religious Fundamentalism and Radical Politics” (in Estonian), “Security in the Baltic Sea Region” and “Estimation of Measurement Uncertainty in Chemical Analyses”. For more information and the registration link, see moocs.ut.ee.

Further information: Aune Valk, Vice Rector for Academic Affairs of the University of Tartu, 526 7930, aune.valk [ät] ut.ee

Sandra Sommer Press Officer Tel: +(372) 737 5681
Mob: +(372) 5307 7820 sandra.sommer [ät] ut.ee
www.ut.ee

 

Category: University
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)

Tõnu Lehtsaar: how to cope with forced quarantine at home?

2 weeks 2 days ago
19.03.2020

We all like to stay home – but only if it’s our own choice, not imposed confinement.

For many of us, forced home quarantine is today’s unfortunate reality. This can have negative psychological effects, which can be managed by being aware of potential stressors.

All the following are natural and likely reactions to social isolation.
1. Disruption of habitual daily routine, limited opportunities for socialisation, worrying about money and restricted access to conventional means of social interaction, such as pursuing one’s hobbies, going to church or communicating with friends.
2. Fear and anxiety triggered by worrying about one’s health and/or that of one’s relatives. Also, internal conflict about unfinished tasks.
3. Lowered mood caused by a disruption of purposeful activities. Feelings of loneliness can intensify in long-term isolation.
4. Resentment and anger towards the person from whom the virus was potentially caught or those who have imposed the quarantine.
5. Stigmatisation or subjecting an infected person to rejection by people who have otherwise been close and friendly.
6. The explanatory vacuum in which there is no satisfactory answer to why pandemics occur. In this situation, blame can be attributed to foreign intelligence services or even God.
7. The spread of rumours and prophesies to fill in the missing information.

How to cope with forced quarantine at home? It is important to remember that coping mechanisms are highly individual and vary from person to person. Here are a few general guidelines but every one of us must decide which solution suits them best.
1. Limit excessive information consumption. Avoid news overload from many different information outlets and stick to a few reliable ones. Your internal information processing, compassion and worrying do not change the outside reality.
2. Start a new daily routine. Stick to doing certain activities at a regular time, stay organised rather than chaotic.
3.  Don’t isolate yourself. Use social media platforms to actively connect with friends and family members. Make phone calls, send messages or take part in group chats. Make an effort to help others.
4. Maintain healthy habits. Exercise, eat healthy and refrain from alcohol and drugs.
5. Seek professional help if you start feeling down or struggle with eating, focusing and sleeping, or excessive use of alcohol.
6. Try to do activities you enjoy or tackle the projects you’ve been putting off. Finish a research article, systematise databases, write an application or read fiction.
7. Keep in mind that close relationships are your greatest asset in maintaining good mental health. Now is your chance to invest in these relationships.

Every life crisis tests us in some way. Every crisis is also an opportunity to learn, find and create something new. None of us wants to be in a crisis, facing uncertainty and challenges while isolated at home. But even in this situation, it is possible to move forward with your life.

Tõnu Lehtsaar
Counsellor-chaplain at the University of Tartu

Category: University
Kaja Karo (kajakk)

Reorganisation of the work at the university as of 16 March 2020

2 weeks 3 days ago
17.03.2020

 

Constantly updated information in Estonian is available at ut.ee/koroona and in English at ut.ee/en/corona.

Teaching and studies. Office of Academic Affairs

Contacts: ut.ee/en/kontakt/oppeosakond

  • Read recommendations for replacing face-to-face classes with e-learning.
  • From 16 March we work from home and only come to the university premises when absolutely needed.
  • We ensure that the services of the Office of Academic Affairs are provided as effectively as possible via digital channels.
  • Office phones are redirected to mobile phones and meetings are held using remote working tools.
  • Students are counselled by phone, via e-mail and Skype (Counselling Centre).
  • We issue documents and certificates on paper by appointment with at least one workday’s notice. Contact: Sirli Klaos, Academic Affairs Specialist, Degree Studies and Quality Assurance Unit, University of Tartu, 737 6305, sirli.klaos [ät] ut.ee
  • Documents are digitally signed and approved as usual. If documents on paper need to be signed, it must be previously agreed with the head of office by phone or e-mail.
  • It will be decided by 1 May whether or when the academic aptitude test takes place. The test will be conducted as a compulsory exam for psychology and dentistry on 6 July (https://www.ut.ee/et/akadeemiline-test).
  • Activities of the UT Third Age University have been suspended.
  • Continuing education programmes (ecxl. online courses) planned to take place in March have been cancelled or postponed.
  • The UT Tallinn Week has been postponed.
  • Decisions regarding the International Summer University programmes are made by 15 May.

Important contacts:

  • Tiia Ristolainen, acting in the capacity of Head of Office of Academic Affairs, substitute for Annika Tina until 20 March, and Head of Lifelong Learning Centre, 501 5584, tiia.ristolainen [ät] ut.ee
  • Ülle Tensing, Head of Study Abroad Centre, 5568 3533, ulle.tensing [ät] ut.ee
  • Ülle Hendrikson, Head of Degree Studies and Quality Assurance Unit, 518 5919, ulle.hendrikson [ät] ut.ee
  • Ivika Puusepp, Head of Study Information System and Analysis Unit, 5591 6448, ivika.puusepp [ät] ut.ee
  • Tuuli Kaldma, Head of Student Admissions, 737 6391, tuuli.kaldma [ät] ut.ee
  • Kristel Lään-Saarik, Head of Counselling Centre, 520 5528, kristel.laan-saarik [ät] ut.ee
  • Ene Teemäe, Tartu Ülikooli Tallinna esindaja, 5305 7310, ene.teemae [ät] ut.ee
  • Martin Pärn, õppekorralduse jurist, 737 6208, martin.parn [ät] ut.ee
Library
  • The library is closed for visitors from 14 March.
  • Its doors in Akadeemia and W. Struve street are locked. Entry by access card or by calling the security guard at 737 5708 or 5887 7018.
  • Library staff have switched fully or partially to distance work, and are available mainly by electronic means and phone.
    • Employees who cannot perform their duties while working remotely may work in the library if their seats are at least one metre apart. Gloves must be worn when processing items.
    • The management and administrative staff work individually, to avoid contact, and according to their work plans. The cleaning service provider is required to pay more attention to disinfection and heavy cleaning.
    • Office phones are redirected to mobile phones.
  • Regular tenants at W. Struve 1 (Estonian Academy of Sciences, UT Press) are ensured access to their rental spaces.
  • To prevent the spread of the virus, books cannot be borrowed or returned at the library.
    • No fine for overdue books is calculated from 16 March to 1 May. All return deadlines are extended to 4 May. Readers have been notified.
    • All the subscribed general and subject databases, incl. materials from DSpace repository, e-varamu, etc. are available for students, teaching staff and employees.
    • Readers’ questions are answered on information line 737 5772 on weekdays 9–17.
    • Information requests should be sent to laenutus [ät] utlib.ee; paring [ät] utlib.ee; library [ät] utlib.ee.
    • The possibility to borrow books at Struve 1 will be established as soon as safety from infection can be ensured.
  • All online courses offered by the library will continue as planned.
  • The library provides, as much as possible, digitisation services ordered through electronic channels, based on the current price list. The EOD request form is available on the library website. When the library fulfils the orders, preference is given to study-related materials ordered by a head of institute or programme director.
  • The events of the library and organised by the library that were planned until 1 May have been cancelled or postponed. Decisions regarding events that are planned to take place after 1 May will be made on the basis of the Emergency Act.
  • Documents are managed and signed electronically.
  • Library meetings and appointments are postponed or organised by electronic means, e.g. via Skype.
  • At the end of each working week, the management of the library evaluates the current situation and informs employees of any changes to be made in the following week.
  • The library’s utility systems (heating, ventilation) are switched to a lower operating mode. More disinfection is used in the building, while general cleaning is reduced.
Personnel work and Human Resources Office

Contacts: ut.ee/en/kontakt/personaliosakond

  • Human resources services are provided. Some employees of the office are working from home, some are in the office. The need for operational meetings is decided on a case-by-case basis and all possible arrangements will be made through Teams or other electronic channels.
  • All training courses planned to take place in April will be reorganised to online courses or video bridging, or postponed until autumn. Those registered for the courses will be notified by e-mail.
Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation

Contacts: ut.ee/en/kontakt/ettevotlus-innovatsioonikeskus

The Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation continues work as usual, all services are provided. All employees work remotely. We are available by phone, via e-mail and other distance working tools.

  • Business contracts: Ülle Jagomägi, ulle.jagomagi [ät] ut.ee, 5333 0227
  • Spin-off counselling for staff and students: Aivar Pere, aivar.pere [ät] ut.ee, 515 8498, Skype: aivar.pere.ut
  • Intellectual property advice: Reet Adamsoo, reet.adamsoo [ät] ut.ee, 504 0719
  • Advice on experimental development grants: Jane Luht, jane.luht [ät] ut.ee, 529 7956

Due to the reorganisation of studies and research we have postponed the application deadline for the experimental development grant to 31 March

Grant Office

Contacts: ut.ee/en/kontakt/grandikeskus

Due to coronavirus spread, numerous events, meetings and business trips have been cancelled. The costs of such events or trips may already have been paid using various funding measures.

The Grant Office has gathered information in which cases the costs of programmes and projects under main funding instruments are eligible for reimbursement. This information has been published on the university’s Intranet.

  • The Grant Office uses remote working.
  • We ensure that services are provided as usual through the use of digital channels.
  • Funding applications, contracts and reports are digitally signed as usual.
  • If you need to have paper documents signed for external financers, please agree an appointment with the coordinator of the respective funding instrument.
Information Technology Office

Contacts: ut.ee/en/kontakt/infotehnoloogia-osakond

  • Read about the organisation of work in Information Technology Office (ITO) during the emergency situation.
  • ITO operational information is also available.
  • Answers to frequently asked questions about distance work can be found here.
Finance Office

Contacts: ut.ee/en/kontakt/rahandusosakond

From 16 March the Finance Office will reorganise their daily work but still observes the objective to ensure the continuous provision of accounting services to the university. The following changes are made:

  • the front door of the Finance Office building at Jakobi 4 is locked;
  • all cash payments have been suspended (tuition fees can be paid in cash at the Coop Bank office at Ülikooli 4, on the basis of an invoice and student card);
  • employees of the office are partly transferred to distance work.

To protect employees from coronavirus infection and prevent the spread of the virus, the Finance Office processes documents only electronically from 16 March. Documents for which there are no electronic workflows yet are submitted with digital signature and registered in DMS (remember to route the documents to Finance Office)

We ask all units to arrange cash payments through banks, sending the payers and institutions who use cash settlements directly to bank offices.
In case of problems or questions, please contact Finance Office employees by e-mail or phone

University buildings and Estates Office

Contacts: ut.ee/en/kontakt/kinnisvaraosakond

From Monday, 16 March, all university buildings are closed for the public, i.e. access to the buildings are granted with the UT employee ID card only. The building at Ujula 4 and Narva College are closed completely.

  • In-house Security Service continues work as usual, excl. the administrator of surveillance and access systems, who continues work but will not receive people, and the security systems specialist, who is asked to work from home, if possible (provided he is readily available and has response capacity).
  • Facility Management Service continues work as usual, excl. cloakroom attendants who will stay home until studies resume in academic buildings (retaining the salary). No events are held in the university assembly hall. From the beginning of the week, a superintendent (for Biomeedikum and Physicum) is in quarantine and is substituted by the superintendent of Chemicum.
  • Analysis and Accounting Service employees are asked to work from home, if possible, starting this week. The same applies to the specialist for physical security systems and specialist for radiation safety of the Facility Management Service.
  • Institutional Development Service will decide on its work organisation in the week starting on 16 March.
  • Office phones are redirected to mobile phones. Calls and e-mails are replied as usual. It is important to ensure that the work of Estates Office would continue. This organisation of work will remain in force until further notice.
Communication and Marketing

Contacts: ut.ee/en/kontakt/turundus-kommunikatsiooniosakond

  • The central information flow is continuously updated.
  • Recommendations have been made to all employees of the unit to prefer distance working and not to come to the office. Working in the office is permitted if absolutely necessary.
  • Employees have been instructed to be available by phone and e-mail. Meetings are conducted in Teams. Generally, the team continues usual activities.
  • Changes are the following:
    • The University of Tartu Day in Narva, planned to take place on 2 April (information fair introducing the university, practical workshops and conference), has been postponed to mid-May: 12 or 15 May, to be decided by 20 April. The possible alternative could be a virtual event. At least three weeks are needed for preparations.
    • Seminars of the mentoring programme will be postponed and at least part of them cancelled. We notify the participants through online channels.
    • The student shadowing project has been suspended until the end of distance learning.
    • Plans for the Rector’s Cup Golf Tournament remain on hold until the end of the emergency situation.
    • Concerning the April issue of the UT Magazine, it could be published online only, or in a small circulation for subscribers only.
    • The employees’ information needs survey, planned by internal communication team, will be postponed.

Important contacts:

  • Peeter Liik, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer (general organisation of work, matters concerning the entire unit), 5554 8206, peeter.liik [ät] ut.ee
  • Viivika Eljand-Kärp, acting Head of Communications and Senior Specialist for Internal Communication (issues concerning Communication Unit), 5354 0689, viivika.eljand-karp [ät] ut.ee
  • Piret Normet, Head of Marketing (issues concerning Marketing Unit), 512 2671, piret.normet [ät] ut.ee
  • Helika Mäekivi, Estonian Language Counsellor and representative of the Language Team (copy-editing and translation matters), 737 6568, helika.maekivi [ät] ut.ee
International Cooperation Unit

Contacts: ut.ee/en/kontakt/rektoraadi-buroo

International communication and organisation of events have changed. The division of work has remained the same. Employees of the unit work remotely.

  • Office phones are redirected to mobile phones.
  • We ensure replying to e-mails and the availability of other services via digital means.
  • We conduct e-meetings, if necessary, via Teams or other solutions (Skype, Starleaf).
  • Documents are signed digitally as usual.

Important contacts:

  • Kristi Kerge, Head of International Cooperation (general matters, The Guild, U4Society, LERU), 529 7677, kristi.kerge [ät] ut.ee
  • Kadri Asmer, Senior Specialist for International Cooperation (researcher exchange, contracts), 529 9994, kadri.asmer [ät] ut.ee
  • Kady Sõstar, Senior Specialist for Protocol (giving recognition, organisation of events), 511 9188, kady.sostar [ät] ut.ee
  • Karoliina Vilimaa-Pennarun, Senior Specialist for International Cooperation (Erasmus+ Global Mobility), 5345 2565, karoliina.v.pennarun [ät] ut.ee
  • Kristel Pedassaar, Senior Specialist for International Cooperation (conferences, travel services), 504 7716, kristel.pedassaar [ät] ut.ee
  • Lauri Randveer, Senior Specialist for International Cooperation (rankings, Academica, Int.Coop. background memos), 512 9996, lauri.randveer [ät] ut.ee
  • Sirje Üprus, Head of International Protocol (guests, Coimbra network), 509 7117, sirje.uprus [ät] ut.ee ()
University of Tartu Press

Contacts: ut.ee/en/kontakt/kirjastus

  • As the university buildings are closed for visitors, no book sales or receipt or delivery of orders is conducted in the UT Press. Orders are received and customer communication continues through the online shop, by phone and e-mail.
  • Most of the employees of the office in W. Struve street do distance work (publishing of academic publications continues as usual), people who work with orders continue working in the rooms of the unit, depending on orders.
  • The team in Lossi street continues work depending on orders (considerably decreased), and will assist, if possible, with the design and layout of academic publications that continue as usual.
  • Employees are reachable by phone and via e-mail and come to the rooms of the UT Press to complete orders, if necessary.
Procurement

Contacts: ut.ee/en/kontakt/hankeosakond

Work continues as usual; simple and public procurements are organised via the public procurement register as online procedures. The Office works from homes, we are available by phone, via e-mail and Teams. Meetings are held if necessary.

Documentary procedure and Administrative Office

Contacts: ut.ee/en/kontakt/kantselei

  • The university’s internal mail is now delivered once a week on Mondays. We ask all units to send any urgent documents to other units electronically, via DMS or e-mail.
  • DMS user support is provided and workflows are developed remotely. Employees are available by phone, via e-mail and Teams.
  • Legal advice is available by phone, via e-mail and Teams.
  • The university archive continues operation, mostly by working remotely. The archives are closed for researchers and visitors until 1 May. On Thursdays, the chief archivist has reception hours in the main building, if necessary. Please make an appointment.
  • Drivers of the Rector’s Office can offer their services, if necessary.
University of Tartu Museum

Contacts: ut.ee/en/kontakt/muuseum

  • All services, incl. visting the collections in the three exhibition places of the museum have been suspended until 1 May (or until further notice). Users of the collections are directed to use the museums’ information system MUIS.
  • The museum team prefers distance work during emergency situation and, if necessary, tasks are reorganised. Museum staff can be contacted via e-mail; e-mails are replied within one day on weekdays.
  • All events, educational programmes and tours have been cancelled. We review the bookings at the beginning of each week depending on whether the emergency situation persists or is extended.
  • We will contact those who have booked rooms for dates in the period of emergency, and cancel all bookings until 1 May. New bookings can be confirmed based on current information when the museum will be opened for visitors again.
  • We provide practical training to trainees remotely or make a two-week break in the training. Each supervisor will notify their trainees and agree about it separately.
Natural History Museum and Botanical Garden

Contacts: ut.ee/en/kontakt/loodusmuuseum-botaanikaaed

  • The exhibition in the Natural History Museum and the greenhouses of the Botanical Garden are closed for visitors since 13 March. All public events, hobby groups and educational programmes for schools are cancelled. We will contact the groups and cancel the bookings. The outdoor collections in the Botanical Garden will remain open for visitors, but we do not advertise it. The Natural History Museum and Botanical Garden will be closed until 1 May or until the end of the emergency situation.
  • Heads of work organisation units will assess the risks and organise work in their units so as to reduce contacts between employees and prevent the risk of infection. It is not recommended to visit collections. If you need to visit the collections, the visit must definitely be agreed upon with the head of collections first.
  • Due to the heightened risk of disease, we ask administrators, guides and teachers to stay home for two weeks. Work is reorganised if possible. Employees of the Department of Exhibitions and Nature Education are asked to work from home, if possible.
  • The IT team will work remotely and is available from home. Meetings are held via the internet.
Internal Audit and Data Protection

Contacts: ut.ee/en/kontakt/siseauditi-buroo

Employees work from home and are available by phone, via e-mail and Teams.

Narva College

Contacts: ut.ee/en/kontakt/narva-kolledz

The building of Narva College is closed.

Pärnu College

Contacts: ut.ee/en/kontakt/parnu-kolledz

Pärnu College and its library are closed for students and visitors until 1 March 2020.

Student Union

Contacts: ut.ee/en/kontakt/uliopilaskonna-buroo

Students are represented using electronic channels. We are available by e-mail tyye [ät] ut.ee, and can be contacted on social media: fb.com/uliopilasesindus. We keep an eye on the events and liaise with the university leaders to provide our perspective on students’ issues.

Apply for the ISIC on the website minukool.ee.

Youth Academy

Contacts: ut.ee/en/kontakt/teaduskool

Youth Academy employees may work from home and they answer e-mails as usual; office phones have been redirected to mobile phones.

The online courses of the Youth Academy take place as usual.

  • The final rounds of the Olympiads, planned in March, have been postponed. Information on April and May is being updated.
  • The programmes of workshops and the Investigation Lab have been postponed - first until the end of March, when we analyse the situation again.
  • Other national student competitions have also been postponed.
  • Student visits, fairs and other gatherings have been cancelled.
Tartu Student Club

Contacts: tym.ee/Kontakt_17.htm

Tartu Student Club switched to distance working on 16 March. The Student Club is open and at least one employee is present there every day. Culture collectives are informed of the new situation. All cultural events planned for March and April are cancelled or take place in the autumn semester.

Academic Sports Club

Contacts: sport.ut.ee/tootajad/

  • The University of Tartu Academic Sports Club restricts the participation of athletes and coaches in international competitions until the end of April. Day-to-day training programmes will continue.
  • International competitions or events planned to take place in the UT Sports Hall will be cancelled until the end of May.
  • Training and Estonian competitions are held until the Health Board, the City of Tartu or the Government has not issed new directives.
  • Starting today, a two-week ban from training is imposed to all athletes and coaches who arrive from other countries. They have to stay at home for two weeks.
  • We will take a creative approach to sports activities.
  • Coaches together with sports managers will send parents a recommended exercise and training plan for children.
  • Sports managers in cooperation with elite coaches will work out a solution for athletes’ activities during emergency situation. NB! Rowers have been granted an individual permission.
  • The manager and coaches of the fitness club will send their clients a recommended training plan to be followed at home.
  • Activities of the representative teams have been suspended.
  • Student sport event will be cancelled until 31 May, further decisions will be made as needed in cooperation with the EASL and TÜSE.
  • All events taking place in or organised by the Sports Club that were planned until 31 May are cancelled or postponed.

 

Organisation of work

  • All sports club staff have fully or partly switched to distance work. Communication is mainly by e-mail and phone. Office phones are redirected to mobile phones.
  • Office staff who cannot perform some of their duties at home may work in the office, if necessary.
  • Maintenance staff (cleaners, maintenance workers, caretakers) work individually, avoiding contact, according to their work schedule. Cleaning staff will pay more attention to desinfection and heavy cleaning.
  • UT Sports Hall and the stadium are fully closed until 30 March. Further activities will be decided on a rolling basis, according to the guidelines of the Health Board and the Government of Estonia.
  • The regular tenants of Ujula 4 (Estonian Academic Sports Federation, Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Clinic, OÜ Füsiovisioon, Stopper) will have access to their rental spaces.
  • Documents are managed and signed electronically.
  • Meetings and appointments are postponed or held via electronic means, e.g. Skype.
  • At the end of each working week, the management board of the sports club assesses the current situation and if necessary, informs employees of any changes in the following week.
Faculty of Arts and Humanities

Contacts: ut.ee/en/kontakt/humanitaarteaduste-kunstide-valdkond

From 16 March we switch over to partial distance working and of possible, work from home. The Dean’s Office is open and there is at least one employee every day to ensure mail is delivered and received. Office phones are redirected to mobile phones. Students are advised via e-mail and by phone. We issue digital certificates and transcripts. We have informed students of this procedure.

Faculty of Social Sciences

Contacts: ut.ee/en/kontakt/sotsiaalteaduste-valdkond

The Dean’s Office works from home.

Faculty of Medicine

Contacts: ut.ee/en/kontakt/meditsiiniteaduste-valdkond

The Dean’s Office works from home. Office phones have been redirected to mobile phones and e-mails are replied as usual.

Faculty of Science and Technology

Contacts: ut.ee/en/kontakt/loodus-tappisteaduste-valdkond

We work from homes. All employees are available by mobile phone and via e-mail.

Tartu Student Village

Contacts: campus.ee/en/contact/

Student Village office remains closed as long as required. Customer service at Raatuse 22 is available all day, every day. Hall managers and maintenance staff do work that does not require contact with customers. In rooms we perform urgent repairs only. Most of the office staff works from home. The Student Village contact information and operations have not changed.

Short-term tenants

  • Student Hostel tenants who would like to leave the hostel in March can terminate their contract as of 31 March. (Leaving the hostel is not compulsory.) Settlement against the prepaid deposit is made as of 31 March and the remaining balance will be returned to the tenant’s bank account within 20 working days after the termination of the contract. If you want to terminate your contract, please inform us by e-mail to info [ät] campus.ee.
  • Due to the spread of the viruses, we urge you to observe the Internal Rules of Tartu Student Village, not to receive guests and not to organise gatherings or meetings.
  • We expect all tenants to act responsibly and comply with all national guidelines during emergency situation.

Degree-seeking students

  • If tenants inform us by 22 March that they want to terminate their contract, their housing contract will be extraordinarily terminated immediately if the keys have been returned. It is not compulsory to terminate the housing contract – everyone who wants to may stay in the residence hall. If you want to extraordinarily terminate your contract, please inform us by e-mail to info [ät] campus.ee.
  • Due to the spread of the viruses, we urge you to observe the Internal Rules of Tartu Student Village, not to receive guests and not to organise gatherings or meetings.
  • We expect all tenants to act responsibly and comply with all national guidelines during emergency situation. 

 

Category: University
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)

All university buildings to be closed for the public from Monday

3 weeks ago
13.03.2020

From Monday, 16 March, all UT buildings are closed for visitors and students. The buildings are not alarmed and staff members can enter using their university ID card.

Visitors and students are not allowed in the buildings. If visitors need to get in, an employee must personally meet them.

Receptionists and information secretaries in the buildings will continue work as usual, cloakrooms are closed.

​Have a look at distance working possibilities at the university and read recommendations for teaching staff on how to replace face-to-face classes with online teaching.

Category: Continuing CoursesUniversity
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)

University of Tartu suspends face-to-face classes due to state of emergency

3 weeks 1 day ago
13.03.2020

Due to the state of emergency declared by the government of Estonia, the University of Tartu cancels face-to-face classes from today to 1 May 2020. Instead, e-learning and other forms of distance learning will be used. Students who stay in residence halls are recommended to return home, if possible.

If there is no distance learning option available for the course, the university recommends rearranging it to provide the possibility of distance learning. Postponing studies until the situation normalises should be used only as a last resort. Research and development will be conducted and support units will continue to work at the University of Tartu. There are no obstacles to doctoral defences. Opponents can be involved in the defence through digital solutions. If possible, consider postponing the defence until the end of the strate of emergency.

The university recommends all staff members to use distance working, if possible. During the state of emergency the University of Tartu guarantees contractual salary to all employees. Electronic solutions can be used to organise necessary meetings.

The University of Tartu expects responsible conduct and compliance with all national guidelines in the state of emergency from all its academic organisations and students.

Additional Information: Tõnis Karki, UT Academic Secretary, +372 529 7917, tonis.karki [ät] ut.ee

Category: UniversityPress release
Kaja Karo (kajakk)

University of Tartu student tested positive for coronavirus

3 weeks 1 day ago
12.03.2020

Today a student of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Tartu was confirmed to have coronavirus disease COVID-19. The student took part in studies from Tuesday to Wednesday. 

 The Health Board will identify the people who have been in close contact with the infected person and communicate with them. Further actions in connection with the buildings of the University of Tartu will be decided by the university’s Rector’s Office together with heads of the units using the buildings. 
 
People who suspect coronavirus infection should contact their family doctor, ask for advice from the GP helpline 1220 (+372 634 6630 when calling from abroad) or if necessary, call the emergency line 112. 
 
The university cares for the health of its employees and students, communicates closely with the Health Board and constantly updates advice on protection against infecting and avoiding spread of the coronavirus via the intranet and the website.

It is important for people who feel unwell to stay at home and monitor their health. If possible, all trips to foreign countries should be cancelled because the likelihood of getting infected is higher when travelling. Read the university’s instructions on preventing coronavirus.

Category: University
Kaja Karo (kajakk)

An international conference offers a forum for scholarly discussions on practical approaches to handling a world full of disagreements

3 weeks 3 days ago
11.03.2020

Today, on 11th of March, an international scholarly conference begins at the University of Tartu, focusing on the philosophical analysis of disagreements. The conference also constitutes discussions with an international community of scholars of the results of a funded investigation led by Margit Sutrop, Professor of Practical Philosophy at the University of Tartu.

Even though disagreements have always been with us, and they have been the subject of ongoing debates in the history of philosophy and theology, research philosophical aspects of disagreements is quite recent. "People argue over many things. Whether or not euthanasia should be permitted or whether or not we should eat animal products? Are we willing to allow a cellulose factory or a windmill park in our backyard?“ explains Margit Sutrop, Professor of Practical Philosophy at the University of Tartu, referring to the wide spectrum of issues encompassed by the topic of disagreements.

She adds that unlike traditional societies, the assent of today`s pluralistic societies can no longer be a foregone conclusion. "The consequences of moral, political and religious disagreements can be very serious – conflicts may cross national boundaries and even lead to war. Therefore, understanding the nature of disagreements and working out strategies to solve them are very important," Sutrop states, reflecting on the main topic of the conference.

In the last decade there have been many discussions on disagreements in logic, science, epistemology, and meta-ethics; also, debates have been pursued in moral and political philosophy regarding ways to solve such conflicts, or what to do if they prove unsolvable. However, up till now few connections have been made between theoretical and practical questions concerning disagreements. The institutional research grant titled "Philosophical analysis of disagreements" led by Prof. Margit Sutrop has successfully made connections between these two aspects.

Toomas Lott, researcher in the history of philosophy and one of the co-organisers of the conference states that in the last decade, there have been many discussions in the field of epistemology about the extent to which people change their positions once they become aware of disagreements. "What should one do if, for example, people with the same level of expertise as I do disagree with me? Should I be less sure of my own convictions? What should I do if experts in some area disagree among themselves – whom should I trust?" Lott highlights these and other questions often posed by philosophers.

Conference speakers include Daniel Cohnitz (Germany), Gurpreet Rattan (Canada), Folke Tersman and Olle Risberg (Sweden) and Margit Sutrop (Estonia). The opening plenary speech will be given by Daniel Cohnitz, who has been one of the initiators of the grant proposal, “Philosophical analysis of disagreements”, one of the participants in the project, formerly Professor of Theoretical Philosophy at the University of Tartu. He currently holds a professorship at the University of Utrecht. In his presentation, Cohnitz criticises the position that has recently become popular among philosophers, namely that conspiracy theorists (as well as other kinds of theorists) have been deemed to have a positive influence on democratic society, ostensibly because their skepticism has helped expose actual conspiracies in state institutions.

On Thursday night conference guests have the opportunity to experiment with solutions to everyday disagreements by playing the board game "Estonians’ 100 Choices", developed by the Centre for Ethics of the University of Tartu. This is also an opportunity for the Centre for Ethics to find out whether this discussion tool directed at Estonian society is useful for a more general testing of philosophical theories. And, to what extent decisions made with a view to our society are similar to those offered by people in other societies and whether or not they propose different justifications.

The conference "Disagreements: From Theory to Practice" is organized by the Department of Philosophy of the University of Tartu in cooperation with the Centre for Ethics of the University of Tartu. Scholars from 14 different countries will participate.

Please see the conference schedule and additional information at the conference home page.

Additional information:
Toomas Lott, member of the organising committee, toomas.lott [ät] ut.ee,+372 5606 1946

This conference concludes the institutional research project "Philosophical analysis of disagreements" (IUT20-5), funded by the Ministry of Education and Research and the Humanities Faculty of the University of Tartu (Basic Funding for National Sciences). The conference is also related to the Centre for Excellence in Estonian Studies (European Fund for Regional Development).

Category: Research
Õnne Allaje (oallaje)

Turning greenhouse gases into useful resources

3 weeks 3 days ago
10.03.2020

A Tartu laboratory brings new hope for a greener future by transforming harmful gases into eco-friendly fuels, materials and chemicals.

There is too much carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere and too much waste piling up in the world. At the same time, the need for sustainable production of fuels and chemicals is growing. These are some of the greatest challenges our planet is facing. It’s clear that we need to stop living in excess, but that’s not the only solution.

Scientists are working hard to tackle the climate crisis with this disruptive technology: gas fermentation.

This technology brings new hope for environmentalists, scientists, and well, the entire humankind. It’s a process where harmful gases like carbon monoxide (CO) or CO2 are converted into natural substances.

It’s about creating something useful out of something seemingly useless and it is believed to change industry and society.

Around the world, a few scientists and companies are experimenting with the idea. For example, the US biotechnology company LanzaTech is turning waste into fuels and chemicals. In Colorado, a beer factory Denver Beer Co is trying to transform CO2 into a commodity that can be sold to cannabis firms, restaurants and tap rooms. The Finnish company Solar Foods is making food out of thin air by converting CO2 and renewable hydrogen into protein.

Estonian scientists are now also working on gas fermentation in a newly established state-of-the-art laboratory at the University of Tartu, in the second largest city of Estonia. The facility was created by the Estonian scientist Kaspar Valgepea, a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Tartu, and it’s so rare in the world that you could count similar laboratories on one hand.

 

Read the article futher from Research in Estonia web page.

The article was written by Marian Männi and funded by the European Regional Development Fund through Estonian Research Council.

Category: Research
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)

Probiotic ME-3 bacteria find their way into chocolate

3 weeks 4 days ago
09.03.2020

ME-3, or the probiotic lactic acid bacterium Lactobacillus fermentum, has formed part of the Estonian diet for 17 years as an ingredient in Hellus dairy products, and has also been available as a food supplement since 2014. Now these highly beneficial bacteria have found their way into chocolate, in a new product launched in March by the internationally renowned Estonian chocolate artisans Chocolala in cooperation with researchers from the University of Tartu.

ME-3 was discovered by a team of researchers led by Marika Mikelsaar and Mihkel Zilmer in 1995. The dairy product manufacturer Tere, in cooperation with researchers from the university, has developed an entire range of products containing ME-3 under the Hellus trademark. Food supplements which feature the beneficial bacterium can also be found in pharmacies in Estonia, France, Australia, the United States and elsewhere.

Microbiologists and human biochemists from the University of Tartu have continued with their research to determine further foodstuffs in which the bacterium can be put to use. In the course of their studies, one of the answers they have arrived at is chocolate.

“In creating the ingredients for this chocolate it was taken into account that its long-term consumption, in moderation of course, should be good for people’s health and help reduce health risks,” explained Mihkel Zilmer, professor of medical biochemistry at the University of Tartu. He added that eating chocolate containing ME-3 should still form part of a healthy lifestyle that involves sufficient physical exercise.

The first attempt at making ME-3 chocolate came in late 2019 when a souvenir product was released in cooperation with Chocolala to mark the university’s 100th anniversary.

Chocolala founder Kristi Lehtis says that developments in the food industry are dependent on the preferences of a large number of people and that innovative producers have to take into account that consumers are always looking for healthier, higher-quality chocolate. “We’re really glad that in working with the University of Tartu and leading scientists we’re able to offer people the best!” she said.

ME-3 is the only bacterium in the world which has two patented beneficial qualities: its antimicrobial and antioxidant properties. Research conducted in Estonia and abroad has proven that ME-3:

  • maintains and enriches the microbiota of the intestinal tract and increases the amount of useful bacteria;
  • boosts digestive efficiency;
  • supresses harmful bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract;
  • protects against pathogens causing intestinal infections;
  • normalises the microbial balance of the gastrointestinal tract while and after taking antibiotics;
  • reduces oxidative stress throughout the body;
  • lowers cholesterol and protects against vascular calcification; and
  • supports the treatment of atopic dermatitis by reducing inflammation.

The ME-3 chocolate is currently on sale in the Chocolala store in the Old Town in Tallinn and in its online store.

For further information please contact:
Mihkel Zilmer, Professor of Medical Biochemistry, University of Tartu, +372 51 25 311, mihkel.zilmer [ät] ut.ee
Kristi Lehtis, Founder, Chocolala OÜ, +372 5565 4333, info [ät] chocolala.ee

Category: EntrepreneurshipPress release
Kaja Karo (kajakk)

Educational sciences offered at University of Tartu continue to rise in world rankings

1 month ago
04.03.2020

Normal 0 21 false false false ET X-NONE LAO /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt; mso-para-margin-top:0cm; mso-para-margin-right:0cm; mso-para-margin-bottom:8.0pt; mso-para-margin-left:0cm; line-height:107%; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:11.0pt; font-family:"Calibri",sans-serif; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family:DokChampa; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi; mso-fareast-language:EN-US;} The QS World University Rankings published today feature 15 curricula offered by the University of Tartu. The Educational Sciences curriculum, which entered the globally influential rankings for the first time in 2019, has risen to between 201st and 250th place in this year’s list. 

The highest-placed university curricula on the list (ranked 151st-200th) are Philosophy, Agriculture & Forestry, Geography, Communication & Media Studies and Political Science & International Studies. Compared to last year, both English Language & Literature and Educational Sciences have improved their rankings: both were to be found between 251st and 300th place in the 2019 list, but this year are ranked 201st-250th. The Educational Sciences curriculum entered the rankings for the first time last year.

Äli Leijen, the head of the Institute of Education at the University of Tartu, says that everyone in the institute is proud of the result, since a great deal of emphasis has been placed on boosting academic activity in the institute in the last five years. “Our team have been doing a lot of work internationally, taking part in all sorts of research and development projects, and that’s produced some world-class scientific articles,” she explained. “They also play an active role in international professional organisations and on the editorial boards of science journals, all of which seems to have done a lot to boost the visibility of our institute abroad.”

In addition to Educational Sciences and English Language & Literature, the Philology and Sociology curricula offered by the university can also be found between 201st and 250th place in the rankings.

Other curricula on the list are Modern Languages and Biology (ranked 251st-300th), Computer Science and Pharmacy (351st-400th), Physics & Astronomy (451st-500th) and Chemistry (501st-550th).

The influential QS World University Rankings are compiled by the consultancy firm Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), which has also been ranking universities by curricula in 48 subjects since 2011. Depending on the subject, the number of universities ranked in this way ranges from 50 (e.g. Stomatology, Library Science and Veterinary Science) to 600 (e.g. Chemistry, Physics and Computer Science).

In compiling the rankings, QS takes into account the reputation of a university among researchers, scientists and employers in the given field and bibliometric indicators from the Scopus database. The weightings of the indicators vary by field: for some subjects, such as Art and Design, only reputation is taken into account; while for subjects with higher volumes of publication, the bibliometric results wield greater influence.

For further information please contact:
Äli Leijen, Head of Institute of Education, University of Tartu, +372 737 6441, ali.leijen [ät] ut.ee
Lauri Randveer, Senior Specialist in International Cooperation, University of Tartu, +372 737 5510, lauri.randveer [ät] ut.ee

Category: UniversityPress release
Kaja Karo (kajakk)

President Kersti Kaljulaid: Reducing ecological footprint requires close cooperation between university and entrepreneurs

1 month ago
04.03.2020

At a meeting held in the main building of the University of Tartu on 28 February, Senior Research Fellow in Botany Aveliina Helm outlined to President Kersti Kaljulaid nature-based solutions for curbing biodiversity loss and the climate crisis and presented the prototype of the Rohemeeter or ‘Greenmeter’ app, which is due for completion shortly and which will help everyone assess the state of Estonia’s biodiversity.

During the meeting, Helm outlined the findings of a global report on the state of biodiversity and ecosystem services which was designed to strengthen ties between research and policy. The report, compiled by IPBES (the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services) operating under the UN, presents a worrying appraisal of the state of biodiversity in Europe: it is decreasing systematically in all of the continent’s ecosystems, and Europe’s ecological footprint now exceeds the threshold of the region’s biological tolerance.

Biodiversity loss is primarily attributed to pollution, climate change, invasive species, the overuse of natural resources and the loss of habitats (and the worsening of their quality) due to changes in land use. “Climate change and biodiversity loss reflect the same problem, which is the unsustainable use of the environment,” Helm explained. “That’s why solutions mitigating climate change have to go hand in hand with the restoration and preservation of biodiversity and everything nature gives us.”

Helm says that there is just as much need in Estonia as elsewhere to improve people’s awareness of the way in which biodiversity, the sustainability of food production and the mitigation of climate change are linked. Here too it is important that we maintain and restore the diversity of our landscapes and steer food production more skilfully towards making the most of what nature has to offer, preserving biodiversity and boosting the carbon reservoir of agricultural land. In order to raise the level of awareness among agricultural producers and people generally of the importance of biological and landscape diversity, researchers from the University of Tartu have devised an app, known as Rohemeeter or ‘Greenmeter’, to assess how environmentally friendly Estonia’s landscapes are and to offer people advice on nature protection. The app is due for completion shortly.

As part of the meeting, Vice-Rector for Research Kristjan Vassil provided an overview of the solutions being offered by researchers from the university to achieve the objectives set out in the state’s long-term development strategy, which is soon to be published, in global strategies and in the Green Deal recently struck by the European Commission.

Since Estonian entrepreneurs are also looking for more innovative and environmentally friendly ways to organise their operations so as to meet climate goals, President Kaljulaid recommended that the university work closely with business people in the country. “One of the things I took away from our conversation was the importance of ever broader-ranging cooperation,” the head of state said. “For instance, we need to be getting private operators involved more as well, alongside the state, and not necessarily in terms of obligations, but rather cooperation. Thankfully, entrepreneurs are often more interested in reducing their environmental footprint than you might think.”

The European Commission has made fulfilling the Green Deal its policy priority and has planned a trillion-euro budget for it up to 2050, representing 35% of the total budget of ‘Horizon Europe’. Four of Europe’s five planned missions are linked to the Green Deal.
In Estonia, cross-ministry management and financing of research and development orders will need to be achieved at the state level so as to avoid fragmentation within the country and to enable Estonia’s strongest fields of research to be developed and boosted. The University of Tartu has already submitted its proposals to the Research and Development Council for the long-term planning, management and funding of orders for research and development activities of importance to Estonia, including studies linked to environmental problems.

“We already have the technology and applications we need here in the university’s laboratories to directly help achieve the long-term goals that have been set, and testing and implementing them will have an immediate impact,” said Vassil. In this way, the work of researchers from the university in such fields as biodiversity restoration, renewable energy, the bioeconomy and gas fermentation technology, as well as in the digital innovation emerging from the cooperation model of the recently opened Delta Centre, will contribute to sustainable development.

During her three-day visit to Tartu County, President Kaljulaid also visited the University of Tartu’s Chemicum facility and Delta Centre and was given a tour of the university museum’s new permanent exhibition, entitled ‘The University of Our Lives’.

For further information please contact:
Aveliina Helm, Senior Research Fellow in Botany, University of Tartu, +372 5553 8679, aveliina.helm [ät] ut.ee
Kristjan Vassil, Vice-Rector for Research, University of Tartu, +372 737 5611, kristjan.vassil [ät] ut.ee

Category: Research
Sandra Sommer (sandraso)
Checked
04.04.2020 - 14:19
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