Contact Information

P.O. Box 59 (Unioninkatu 38 E)
00014 University of Helsinki

Open: mon-wen 13.00-15.00
Email addresses:
Phone: +358 (0)294 1911
(University switchboard)

Information about the subject

StudentsSince the 19th century, religious studies have been carried out in Finland as part of other academic disciplines. The first professorship in Finland was established at Åbo Akademi University in 1961. Soon after this, the University of Turku began to provide teaching in the comparative study of folklore and religion, and in 1970 the discipline was split into folklore and study of religions. Study of religions has been a subject in the Faculty of Theology at the University of Joensuu since 2003, and since autumn 2008, it has been possible to study it as a major subject.

At the University of Helsinki, study of religions has been taught and studied for four decades, either in the Faculty of Arts or Theology. Initially, it could be studied as an option within Finnish and comparative folklore or as part of systematic theology studies. The first professorship in study of religions was established in the Faculty of Theology in 1970. The first holder of the post was Juha Pentikäinen, whose interests focused on the study of vernacular religions and especially those of Northern peoples. At the same time, the position of study of religions as a subject within the humanities gained greater prominence, and a second professorship was established in the Faculty of Arts in 2001. René Gothóni was appointed to the post, and he has studied Buddhism and Orthodox Christianity, and has a special interest in monastic practices and pilgrimage. After Professor Pentikäinen’s retirement in 2008, Tuula Sakaranaho was appointed as his successor. Her specialist areas are contemporary Islam and multiculturalism.

Research in study of religions is vibrant and international and there has been considerable interest in study of religions studies in both faculties.