Keynote Speakers

The X Conference on Childhood Studies
List of confirmed Speakers

Keynote speakers

  • Niina Junttila, Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Turku and a Professor of Educational Sciences at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland. 
    Niina Junttila | University of Turku (
  • Cath Larkins, Professor of Childhood Studies, Co Director, The Centre for Children and Young People's Participation. School of Health, Social Work and Sport. University of Central Lancashire, United Kingdom. 
    Cath Larkins - Academic Staff - UCLan
  • Riikka Hohti, Finnish Academy Research Fellow at University of Tampere, Finland and Grant-funded researcher, Department of Education, Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science (HELSUS), University of Helsinki, Finland. 
    Riikka Hohti — University of Helsinki
  • Markus Kaakinen, University Researcher, Institute of Criminology and Legal Policy, University of Helsinki, Finland. 
    Markus Aarno Ilmari Kaakinen — University of Helsinki
  • Beth Ferholt, Associate Professor. Early Childhood Education/Art Education. School of Education. Brooklyn College, New York.
    Beth Ferholt | Brooklyn College


More info on keynote speakers and their presentations below ⬇

Niina Junttila

Niina Junttila is a Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Turku and a Professor of Educational Sciences at the University of Jyväskylä. Her research focuses on issues related to the psychosocial well-being, participation, and learning of children and young people. Niina is particularly interested in the antecedents, mechanisms and cost of social outsiderhood, and especially the solutions by which loneliness and ostracisms can be reduced. Currently Niina leads the SRC-funded Right to Belong – tackling Loneliness and Ostracism during Childhood and Youth research consortium, whose aim is to strengthen the community and participation of children and adolescents, and to reduce their feelings of social outsiderhood. 

The focus of the presentation is on loneliness and ostracisms as a two interlinked forms of social outsiderhood. All humans have a fundamental need to belong, and anything that threatens accomplishing this may be seen as a threat for equality and existence. Social relations contribute to equality, well-being, health, trust and sustainable societal level security through fulfilment of these needs to belong. The need to belong is not fulfilled for the 15-20% of Finnish children and youth who currently feel lonely and/or ostracized. When prolonged, loneliness results in cognitive overload, deteriorating social functioning and adverse physical and mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, self-harming, and suicidality. Ostracism, as an insidious form of social violence executed by ignoring and excluding individuals or groups by individuals or groups, activates social pain reaction in the brain, and if prolonged, has adverse consequences on child and youth well-being and health including e.g. increased risk for psychiatric disorders, impaired immune functioning and even risk for radicalization and violent acts. 

Cath Larkins

Cath Larkins is a Professor of Childhood Studies, Co Director, The Centre for Children and Young People's Participation in School of Health, Social Work and Sport, University of Central Lancashire, United Kingdom.

Prof Cath Larkins innovates in participation, activism and knowledge exchange with children and young people, and their allies, across the UK and Europe. She conducts co-research, particularly with marginalised children and young people which is focused on challenging discrimination and improving policy and practice. Working with a wide range of child and adult colleagues, she co-authors guidance to inspire social change. Her scholarship advance theories and methodologies for participation and citizenship. Her collaborative work with children and young people has led to impact on policy and practice internationally.

Riikka Hohti

Riikka Hohti is Finnish Academy Research Fellow at University of Tampere, Finland and Grant-funded researcher, Department of Education, Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science (HELSUS), University of Helsinki, Finland.

She has written about animal relations, materiality, temporality and affective atmospheres in childhoods. She has developed participatory and post-qualitative methodologies at the intersections of childhood studies and human-animal studies and education. She is Finnish Academy Research Fellow at Tampere University and leads the project Children of the Anthropocene – Environmental atmospheres and multispecies collaborations (Kone Foundation, University of Helsinki).

A planet called childhood – Some exercises in atmospheric, earthly and multispecies research

The term “planetary” is being increasingly used in connection with a range of phenomena: well-being and health, pedagogies, businesses, fields of research, and more. Whatever calls itself planetary, claims some kind of environmental awareness and attention to the relations between human endeavors and un/sustainable environmental processes. At the scholarly level, the planetary dimension is implicated in the Anthropocene, an epoch named after the entanglement of human species with Earth systems. 

I borrow the title for this talk from novelist Sirpa Kähkönen to play with the idea of planetary childhood research (which might be at the door). I wish to unleash imagination concerning how childhoods might be affectively and materially composing “the planet”, inasmuch “the planet” could be seen as the material for childhoods, rather than situating childhoods on a planet. I ask, what kinds of materials, affects, or temporalities do we invite in spotlight through the planet talk? And whose childhoods are we talking about then? What kinds of silences and invisibilities do we risk creating by employing the grand frame of the planet and focusing on exclusively human childhoods? 

In this talk, I examine childhood communities as multispecies, multitemporal and multinatured. Drawing from colleagues’ and my own ongoing work on other than human animals and environmental atmospheres in the lives of children and young people, I present some exercises in shifting rhythm and scale. I suggest some atmospheric and earthly approaches to research childhoods together with Earth energies, weather phenomena and microbes, and to work towards more than human politics of childhood in the post-Anthropocene. 

Markus Kaakinen

Markus Kaakinen is a University Researcher, Institute of Criminology and Legal Policy, in the University of Helsinki, Finland.

The topic of the presentation: Youth crime, and violence especially, has received a lot of attention in Finland in recent years. The presentation discusses recent youth crime-related phenomena such as the crime drop, street violence and youth street gangs. I will elaborate on the connections and key differences between the phenomena and discuss their significance for Finnish criminal policy and youth crime prevention.

Beth Ferholt

Associate Professor, PhD Beth Ferholt (Brooklyn College, City University of New York) & Dr. Smartypants

Participatory design research with young children: Playworlds as intergenerational research

How did the young children with whom we work, bring their adult co-researchers to understand that imaginary characters can participate in analysis, grant proposals, and presenting findings through presentations at conferences, and co-writing articles? It took the pandemic remote schooling of 2020 to make their teachers and we university-based researchers, listen closely to what the young children with whom we create and study playworlds, were asking of us.  What does it mean to expand our original research teams -- which included those of us studying development and those creating development, university-based researchers and also young children and their teachers -- to include not just the teachers' chosen necessary companions, artists; but also the children's chosen necessary companions, imaginary characters?  How does this expansion work and what does it entail? I will argue that the inclusion of this fifth element in our research teams leads to a profound shift in our understanding of what research can be, what development is, and of what inclusion should be (i.e. radical).