About the Institute
The Institute of Social Studies is a centre of competence in journalism, communication studies, social work, social policy, sociology and information sciences. We provide high-level education in these subjects and our curricula are well known and valued. QS University Rankings by Subject has placed our media and communication curricula among the world's bests for seven consecutive years, which is a unique result for the whole of Estonia. Our staff exceeds 70 members and over 700 students are enrolled in our 8 programmes in all higher education levels.
The institute is both traditional and new. Our fields of inquiry have broadened over the decades. Teaching of journalism started already in 1954 when a small group of specialisation was created within the department of humanities with a clear mission of preserving and developing Estonian language and culture within professional journalism against the hazards posed by the Soviet system. The schooling in library science dates back to even earlier: 1952 when vocational education of librarians begun in Viljandi. Sociological research gained momentum from the middle of 1960s when the Sociology Lab was created in the university whereas the first sociology students were admitted in 1989 during the tumultous period of the collaps of the Soviet Union. For almost decades journalism and communication, on the one hand, and sociology, social work and social policy existed in different departments and later institutes. Various disciplinary developments and structural reforms created an opportunity for joining forces and widening the breadth of collaboration between different units. Therefore the Department of Information Education of the Viljandi Culture Academy merged with the Institute of Journalism and Communication in 2013. In January 2014 the Institute of Journalism, Communication and Information Studies and the Institute of Sociology and Social Policy joined into one unit. The reasoning behind that was to connect similar fields of studies and to catalyze deeper cooperation and synergy.
Today, our institute hosts eight various curricula at all levels of study, which are constantly rejuvenated and up-dated based on recent developments of the fields of research, requirements of the job market, rapid societal processes and student feedback. One example of the constant rejuvenation is a new masters program called "Analysis of Society and Information Processes" that we opened in 2019. The program gives students the opportunity to learn both technical analytical skills as well as gain wider sociological understanding of the world.
Belonging to the Faculty of Social Sciences, our institute cooperates with many other fields (political science, psychology, education sciences, economics) of teaching and research within our home faculty as well as beyond. Our daily work is based both, the depth of discipline as well as a wider scope of collaboration which generates interesting new problems on the disciplinary borderlines.