Academy Research Fellow and global historian Rinna Kullaa is a Visiting Professor at the University of Vienna. She studies and teaches global history focusing on contemporary history and relations as well as interactions between Europe, Russia and Africa. Rinna has focused especially on the history of international relations, diplomacy and foreign and security policy. History of the European Union´s foreign affairs is also one of her main interests. Rinna is a Principal Investigator of the RUSMED-project, which investigates the history of international relations across the Mediterranean area after the Second World War until today.
“History is a holistic discipline, which tells us something valuable and essential about humanity. Knowledge of history is part of general education, but it also offers many concrete tools for both work life and life itself”, Rinna summarizes.
Rinna has known from the age of 15 that she wanted to become a historian. Although her studies at the top international universities began in the fields of political science and Russian area studies, she knew that her doctoral dissertation and career would be with the discipline of history. “Through history, one can learn to understand not only one’s own history but that of others as well. This is ever more important in the current world and working life”, she says.
For Rinna, the most important task for HWB in the following years is to develop and distribute concrete tools for the use of decision makers and social actors. She has witnessed the need to for such activity herself while working both in United Nations and with Finnish diplomats. “The desire to harness history for everyone’s benefit exists and HWB can accomplish and offer tools for this. In this way the results can also be more concrete”, she says.
Rinna stresses, that international cooperation and activity doesn’t eliminate the need and possibilities to implement smaller and more human-oriented projects for example in Finland: “For us as an organization, it is not meaningful to choose between national and international activities, as their division is as artificial as contrasting national history with global. They are so closely interlinked, that the knowledge and expertise of both are important”, she explains
Rinna is a founding member of HWB and she mentions the founding meeting of HWB to be one of the best experiences she has had in our organization: “The initiative attracted interest among Finnish decision-makers and researchers with long careers as well as among younger generation of professionals. This created a feeling, that within our own group we were creating something important for the benefit of society as a whole”, she recalls.
Rinna has been a board member of HWB since 2015. She acts as the vice-chair of the board.