Ruralia Institute

Ruralia in brief Ruralia magazine, (mainly in finnish) Contact information

Ruralia Institute
Lönnrotinkatu 7
Tel. +358 294 1911

Ruralia Institute
Kampusranta 9
Tel. +358 294 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.

Ruralia Visiting Scholars 2015-2016

The 2015-2016 Ruralia Visiting Scholars and the projects they will pursue are listed below:

Valentina Cattivelli, Research Center of Lombardy Region, Italy
Analysis of the Motivations Associated with Community Urban Gardening in Lombardy Region and in Finland. A comparison.

Marie Mahon, Department of Geography, National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland
The role of the arts, culture and creativity in a rural context.

Örjan Furtenback, Swedish University of Agricultural Science, Umeå, Sweden
Where should we allocate new forest reserves? Regional welfare impacts of different allocation rules.

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Huge opportunities for collaborative work


As a part of the Ruralia Institute Visiting Scholars Programme, from Scotland's Rural College (SRUC) I visited University of Helsinki and its two Ruralia Institute units located in Mikkeli (Eastern Finland) and in Seinäjoki (Western Finland). The focus of my stay was on Knowledge Exchange activities and identifying opportunities for developing international collaboration between the two organisations.

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Finland is one of the leading CGE modeling countries

Mark Horridge believes that CGE modeling generates useful results.

Numbers fill the room when Australian CGE modeler, Professor Mark Horridge, presents his extensive slideshow in the seminar that was held in Seinäjoki, Finland. Horridge was invited to tell about wide Australian experiences of general equilibrium modeling. In the beginning of his presentation he emphasized the Finnish know-how in this field. 

    - Finland is one of the world’s top countries in CGE modeling. Relatively to country’s population, there is more CGE modelers in Finland than in USA, says Horridge.

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CGE modeling seminar in Seinäjoki, presentations now available

International seminar – CGE modeling for policy analysis – international cases was hold 16th-17th of March 2015 in Seinäjoki

The seminar presentations are now available:

  • Prof. Mark Horridge
    Centre of Policy Studies
    Victoria University (Australia)
    Regional CGE modeling for policy analysis: the Australian experience
  • Dr. Örjan Furtenback
    Department of Forest Economics
    Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (Sweden)
    Efficiency Implications of Efficiency Standards: evaluating excess costs in a multi-regional CGE model
  • Prof. Katarzyna Zawalinska
    Institute of Rural and Agricultural Development
    Polish Academy of Sciences (Poland)
    Challenges of modelling regional impact of selected policies with use of CGE in Poland
  • Prof. Robert E. Wright
    University of Strathclyde (UK)
    OLG-CGE Models and Demographic Research
  • Dr. Risto Vaittinen
    Finnish Centre for Pensions (ETK, Finland)
    The role of demography in recent macroeconomic development in Finland

  • Further information:
    Urszula Zimoch
    +358 50 318 3941

    Evaluation of the finnish national policy on large carnivores -
    Now publication is available in english!


    The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry's national population management plans for the wolverine, lynx, bear and wolf are a key instrument in implementing the national policy on large carnivores. Population management plans have been implemented in an effort to meet the requirements laid out in international agreements for achieving the ecological sustainability of the species, whilst taking into account national needs for ensuring economic and social sustainability.

    Stakeholder and citizen involvement in the drafting of population management plans has been handled by means of extensive consultations. These consultations and the socioeconomic analyses based on them were included in Ruralia Institute publications The wolf discourse in Finland (2005), Between lynxes and people (2006), Bear management and public attitudes in Finland (2006), and Wolverine management and public attitudes in Finland (2008).

    This evaluation of the national policy on large carnivores includes a comprehensive estimate of the policy objectives and actions led by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry in 2007-2012. Developmental proposals for the large carnivore policy were also made based on the results of the evaluation. Serving as the basis for evaluation, an analysis of each species was conducted by examining the success of population management from the perspective of ecological, economic and social sustainability. In examining ecological sustainability, attention was given to trends in large carnivore populations during the review period, the evaluation of threatened species and bag limit adjustments. Where economic sustainability is concerned, the costs of administration and research as well as allocations for compensating and preventing damages caused by large carnivores were taken into account. Where social sustainability is concerned, the transparency, involvement and social approval of the policy were taken into account.

    A key observation made in development of the large carnivore policy actions is to give equal consideration to ecological, economic and social factors in policy objectives and actions as well as state that these three perspectives are interdependent. A touchstone of the current large carnivore policy is exceeding the threshold of social acceptance, particularly where the wolf is concerned. This, in turn, compromises systematic population management built upon the ecological strategy objective. Developing the psychological ownership toward large carnivores is considered a crucial aspect of ensuring success in future population management.

    Further information:
    Project Manager Mari Pohja-Mykrä, +358 50 4151 149,

    Link to publication:
    Evaluation of the finnish national policy on large carnivores.

    Read Ruralia Visiting Scholar Leticia Galluzzi Bizzo´s story about her visit to Seinäjoki in August 2014.


    Leticia Galluzzi Bizzo
    from Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

    I took up residence in the Seinäjoki branch of the Ruralia Institute as a visiting scholar in August 2014, attracted by the relevant role of the Institute in the field of rural history and sociology. I performed an historiographic study about the protagonism of international organizations in the global rural agenda of the 1930s-1940s, in view of war concerns, economic uneasiness and public health preoccupations: the rural was proposed as the granary of the world, source of health, place of social change and modernization; but also as impaired by malnutrition, disease, poverty, and low productivity.

    International organizations then created 'quasi-legislative' rules assigning new roles to nation-States as regards rural health, economics and welfare, which contributed to define social reality and influence mechanisms of governance. These 'soft-laws' became organizing poles for changes in food and health mentality concerning the relationships between State and society and their worldwide circulation favored a cultural shift towards future rural rights and tasks, and new traditions in rural science. Thus, a turning point in the history of the ideas politicizing the rural world took place. This research benefited from the innovative environment of the Ruralia Institute, through live exchange of ideas, and suggested readings. Resources from the University of Helsinki's Library were also profitable. The final results were presented in a Seminar at the Institute, and in a conference on the history of the FAO at the Swiss Institute for European Global Studies.

    An ongoing paper will be submitted to a journal on agricultural history. The open-minded, transdisciplinary and warm environment I've experienced in the Institute, which is located in the heart of the inspirational and beautiful Seinäjoki Science Park, opened my horizons to new scientific perspectives, and will reflect in my performance as a professor of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The Ruralia Institute Program of Scholarships inspires scientists not only to advance their academic skills, but also to keep alive values like citizenship, social responsibility, and betterment of the rural world.

    Six new Ruralia Visiting Scholars


    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 closed. The following six scholars were selected for the academic year 2014-2015:

  • Artur Steiner, Scontland's Rural College, United Kingdom
  • Wilson Xavier, Vidyalaya College of Arts and Science, India
  • Kadri Ukrainski, University of Tartu, Estonia
  • Agatha Herman, University of Reading, United Kingdom
  • Esther Muniz, University of Vallodolid, Spain
  • Julio Fierro Fernandez, University of León, Spain

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

    See more information: Ruralia Visiting Scholars

    Read Ruralia Visiting Scholar Colin Johnson's story about his visit to Mikkeli and Seinäjoki in June 2014


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

    How your research has proceed in Finland so far (research interviews, academics you have met etc.) ?
    I've been learning so much from colleagues here at the Ruralia Institute--about the state of rural life in Finland, but also about Finnish society and culture generally. To an American, of course, it's the difference between the extreme north of most Scandinavian countries and the more densely populated south that seems most significant, mostly just because the United States' polar territory (in Alaska) is so cut off from the rest of the country, whereas in Finland one can easily take a train there. But as I've learned, there are also significant regional differences between the east and the west in Finland, which is fascinating, and something I'd really like to spend more time thinking about, especially given what a centrally important point of social and political reference Russia is in western Finland. For someone like me, who studies lesbian and gay life, that dynamic is very interesting, particularly in light Russia's recent crackdown on LGBT organizing.

    What are your impressions of the Finnish LBGT rights situation in the rural areas and towns such as Mikkeli and Seinäjoki?
    The situation in Finland is obviously particular in some ways, but I have to say that the basic dynamics of doing this kind research in Finland are surprisingly familiar to me. For example, when I first started doing research on LGBT life in rural areas and small towns in the United States, the first thing most people would say "there is no lesbian and gay here; that's a city thing." Inevitably, they would then go on tell me about the experiences of a close friend who was lesbian or gay and lived in a small town, or perhaps a family member, and cite that supposedly exceptional case as their reason for believing that LGBT life was generally an urban phenomenon. I've already had a couple of very similar interactions here: instances where people have said something like "I can't really think of anything that would qualify as lesbian and gay life in Mikkeli, but you could ask my lesbian friends.

    In your research plan you state that: "- - given the fact that Finns and other Scandinavians have led the way in progressive thinking regarding both gender and sexual equality and rural development for quite some" - Do you still think that it is so? Or have you changed your opinion?
    I don't know that I've necessarily changed my opinion, but I am getting a much better sense that I had before of the particular social and historical circumstances that have made both gender and sexuality equalitarianism and rural development explicit priorities in Finland. Some of that clearly has to do with Finland's relation the rest of the EU. But I also think it has to do with how tightly knit together rural and urban life seem to be in Finland. For example, Mikkeli is a small town by a lot of measures. But it's also connected to Helsinki by convenient and relatively inexpensive rail service that runs back and forth multiple times a day, as are many moderately sized municipalities. This is very different than in the United States where people who live "rural" areas often have to drive for several hours just to get to an airport, only to have to get on a plane, if they want to spend any time in a major city. In this sense, then, "small town" life in Finland today seems much more like life in many American suburbs where the city is there and accessible if one needs it, but not necessarily the backdrop for everyday life. All of which simply reminds me of how significant physical space actually is, even today, in an era when pervasive digital connectively has supposedly diminished the importance of distance and proximity.

    Further information:
    Project Manager Aapo Jumppanen, +358 50 415 1152,

    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):