Ruralia Institute

Ruralia in brief Contact information

Ruralia Institute
Lönnrotinkatu 7
Tel. +358 9 1911

Ruralia Institute
Kampusranta 9
Tel. +358 9 1911

Contact us

Welcome to the Ruralia Institute!

Ruralia Institute is an independently administrated multidisciplinary expert institute at the University of Helsinki. The mission of the Institute is to improve the welfare of rural people and develop the sources of livelihood in the rural areas through research, development, education and training.

The activities of the Ruralia Institute are multidisciplinary research, education and research based innovation development. On its activities Ruralia Institute creates new operations models and innovations based on the combination of scientific competence and practical knowledge. The development activities of the Institute serve economic life, foster innovation activities and support regional development.

Ruralia Institute does regional, national and international cooperation. Our partners in cooperation are various faculties and Schools of the University of Helsinki, other Finnish and foreign universities and institutes.

Ruralia Institute constitutes of two units: Mikkeli and Seinäjoki. In total the institute has about 80 employees.

Call of Ruralia Visiting Scholars opens 28th March 2014


The Visiting Scholars Programme of the University of Helsinki, Ruralia Institute is an opportunity for experienced scholars in the field of multidisciplinary rural research to visit Ruralia Institute for a period of one to three months, supported with a monthly grant of 2300 € during the academic year 2014–2015.

Ruralia Visiting Scholars can conduct research and interact with the researchers of Ruralia Institute and the academic community of University of Helsinki. During the academic year 2014–2015, the special focus of Ruralia Visiting Scholars Programme is on the research of sustainable food systems.

The call for Ruralia Visiting Scholars is open between 28 March – 20 June 2014. The Visiting Scholars for academic year 2014–2015 will be selected by 20 August 2014.

In the previous call for Ruralia Visiting Scholars for academic year 2013-2014, the following five scholars were selected:

  • Maria Letícia Galluzzi Bizzo, Department of Social Nutrition, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

  • Francisco Diaz Bretones, Social Psychology Department, University of Granada, Spain

  • Agatha Herman, University of Reading, United Kingdom

  • Colin R. Johnson, Indiana University, Department of Gender Studies, United States

  • Egil Petter Stræte, Centre for Rural Research, University Centre Dragvoll, Norway

  • Read Visiting Scholar Julie Smith's story about her visit to Seinäjoki Unit in March 2013.

    See more information: Ruralia Visiting Scholars

    Presentations from non-wood forest products -conference now available


    International conference "Non-Wood Forest Products, Health and Well-being" was held in Espoo, Finland, 12th - 13th of November 2013.

    The interdisciplinary conference focused on the emerging field of non-wood forest products by providing the latest information and innovations. The aim was to highlight current research and further research needs, bring out new commercial possibilities and enhance international contacts and links among researchers and other actors of the field.

    The conference gathered over 100 NWFP -experts to Espoo from 9 different countries. The keynote speeches were held by Professor Zhang Bolin from Beijing Forestry University, Professor Guido F. Pauli from University of Illinois, Dr. Rolf Nestby from the Norwegian Institute For Agricultural and Environmental Research and Professor Paul A.S. Breslin from Rutgers University. The conference presentations are now available from link

    The conference programme can be found from

    The abstract book of the conference can be found from:

    The conference was organised jointly with University of Helsinki, Ruralia Institute, MTT Agrifood Research Finland, University of Oulu, University of Turku, University of Eastern Finland, The Finnish Forest Research Institute, Technology Center KETEK ltd, Rovaniemi University of Applied Sciences and Oulu University of Applied Sciences.

    Further information:
    Juha Rutanen, +358 40 5737 568, or
    Anne Matilainen, +358 50 4151 156


    Proceedings of the community tourism conference


    As a part of a community tourism project called COMCOT (An innovative tool for improving the competitiveness of community based tourism), an international conference was set out to explore the role of communities in tourism development. The theme of the conference was "Communities as a part of sustainable rural tourism – success factor or inevitable burden?" Accordingly, the conference provided up-to-date information and practical experiences in community-based tourism where the community plays a central role in the development.

    The presentations highlighted how communities can be successfully integrated into the development of rural tourism; the benefits which can be gained and the challenges which exist in practice. The conference, run over two days in September 2013 in Kotka, Finland, drew together delegates from approximately 20 countries around the world. Based on the conference presentation, a book of proceedings was published in the series of Ruralia Institute.

    Further information:
    Project Manager Merja Lähdesmäki, +358 50 415 1155,

    Link to publication (In english):

    New publication about best practices


    This report focuses on ESF (European Social Fund) projects in South Ostrobothnia region within the 2007-2013 programming period. The main aim of the study has been to identify, gather and analyze project actors' experiences and views about good or best practices of their ESF projects. The report draws particular attention to the means by which good practices are recognized, disseminated and mainstreamed

    The study is based on project descriptions available at the management system for EU Structural Funds (EURA 2007). In addition to that, a total of nine group discussion workshops were arranged in order to find out the views of ended and ongoing projects.

    In this report, good practices are studied from the viewpoints of contextuality, communities of practices, networks of practices, as well as social innovation perspective. ESF project activities were simplified by dividing them into four parallel realities: programme and funding instrument, project organization, project beneficiaries and the internal reality of projects itself. From these points of view, good practices are interpreted differently from one another. Therefore, it is essential to create a shared understanding about project work between the various parties.

    Further information:
    Project Coordinator Timo Suutari, +358 50 415 1161,

    Link to publication (In finnish):

    It´s need for joint knowledge between beauty care, hairdressing and the nonwood forest-products sector


    Growth in the demand for natural products creates a new need for knowledge of beauty care. This need for knowledge related to natural products in beauty care and the hair sector has not been previously studied. In addition, the possibilities for cooperation between beauty care, hairdressing and the non-wood forest-products sector has not been studied.

    This review focused on beauty care, hairdressing and the non-wood forest-products sector. The publication revealed the need for joint knowledge between beauty care, hairdressing and the nonwood forest-products sector. In the light of the review, the number of skill needs were seen to increase. Those skills, moreover, were related to the use of natural products, and on to the service products based on them, as well as skills related to networking various sectors.

    The study showed the need to integrate the education of eco-hairdresser and eco-cosmetologist into the part of preparatory training for competence-based qualifications, first as components of the qualification, and then later as an independent qualification, or as optional modules. The need for shared knowledge became widely apparent concerning the use and collection of natural products and the production of natural products in all sectors under review. Especially the need for knowledge of product safety and legislation was seen as highly significant in all sectors of the review.

    Other issues that were raised include the common need for knowledge of sustainable development concerning all three sectors as well as developing cooperation with sectors other than these in the future raised up. In order to create concrete possibilities to enhance the cooperation between different sectors, for example meetings were seen as being important both in the educational and in the business fields.

    The first aim of the review was to discover how to employ knowledge of natural products in the vocational qualification of beauty care and hairdressing. The second aim was to discover how to employ knowledge of the natural-resources sector, in order to collect and produce natural products for beauty-care use. The results of this publication can be used for content development in the vocational upper secondary qualification and specialist vocational qualification in beauty care, hairdressing and natural resources sectors.

    The Finnish National Board of Education (FNBE) funded this review and it was administered by Svenska Framtidsskolan Ab. The working group was comprised of experts from beauty care, hairdressing and the non-wood forest-products sector. The publication was conducted through the surveys of hairdressing and beauty care and by requesting the views of experts in various sectors. In addition, previous studies, current practices in Finland and in Europe, and their directions of change was examined.

    Further information:
    Project Manager Birgitta Partanen, +358 44 538 2248,

    Link to publication (In finnish):