From Siberia to China to Sweden: reflections from a sustainability researcher

From Siberia to China to Sweden: reflections from a sustainability researcher
Photo: Wikipedia/Creative Commons
I am Ivan Monich, a sustainable tourism researcher from Siberia. My time in Sweden has been exciting, full of amazing moments and unexpected good surprises.

I would like to describe and to share my thoughts from three points of view: my family, work, and society.

I currently work at Umea School of Business and Economics (USBE) in Northern Sweden as a visiting researcher under the Swedish Institute Scholarship program named VISBY. The project title is The State Stimulation of the Economic Growth of Border Areas by the Example of Sweden, Russia, and China. I research how tourism can influence the economy of remote regions and how to maintain balance in sustainable eco-tourism and not harm the environment. I come from Siberia, from the remote border territory which is 6000 km east of Moscow. I focus on remote regions development and tourism clusters – which is one of the ways to diversify the economy of regions. Northern Sweden and my region have similarities and share common issues.

I have been researching tourism from 2007 and have published several articles in peer-review journals and participated in conferences in Asia and Europe. I defended my Ph.D. in 2011 on the improvement of innovation activities in tourism on the example of transboundary regions. I knew Chinese and had been gathering the original data in Beijing for one of my research projects. Beijing is a multicultural capital, and being there, I started to understand the importance of the integration process into society. Beijing was the place that brought me the friends from all over the world including friends from Sweden.

My first visit to Sweden was arranged in 2015 under the EU Tempus program “Strengthening of Higher Education in the Field of Finance in Siberia and the Far East of Russia 2014-2016”. The goal of the programme was to modernize existing Masters programmes in Finance at Russian HEIs and launch related double degree programmes between EU and Russian HEIs. Together with colleagues, we visited Umea University and updated the teaching courses and launched related double degree programs between Umea University and my home University, Transbaikal State University. It is the first link in student exchange between our regions and universities.

During my first visit, I talked to Professor Lars Hassel, Dean of USBE. He advised to apply for VISBY program and I got a strong feeling that my application was going to be supported.

I am the father of two boys, and I could not leave Sweden without presents for my kids. I went to the Toyshop, and it brought back warm childhood memories. Bumse bear, Pippi longstocking, Karlsson are all from my childhood! I didn't know that Bumse is a character invented in 1966 by Swedish writer Rune Andréasson – I remembered him as a bear from comic books. It is so nice to share with my children things that brought me happiness when I was a boy.

I would like to say thank you to Swedish Institute team for the opportunity to work in an international team of researchers. I am sure it will bring great results to my home region and Västerbotten.