The Master's Programme in Environmental Change and Global Sustainability (ECGS) is built on a strong connection between different campuses within the University of Helsinki. Get to know the research in the field through our research projects.
Research-based education

University teaching is based on research. Teaching is provided by researchers well versed in their discipline, teaching the topics of their research.

In addition to relevant research-based knowledge, university education utilises diverse teaching and assessment methods promoting students’ learning, the development of scholarly thinking and the establishment of expertise.

From the beginning of their studies, students are part of the academic community. They get to familiarise themselves with the latest research. In many fields, students have the opportunity to complete their thesis in collaboration with research groups.

Research focus

Since sustainable development is a strategic objective of the University of Helsinki, the university continues to strengthen its cooperation with other universities (such as Aalto University), the Finnish Environment Institute, the National Resource Institute Finland and a variety of collaborating organisations.

The topics of our research include:

  • Socio-cognitive aspects of sustainability
  • Behavioural analysis of energy transitions
  • Participatory methods in natural resource policy
  • Regulation of nanomaterials and endocrine disrupters
  • Knowledge integration in environmental and technology policy
  • Ecological and economical modelling of renewable natural resources
  • The Baltic sea, agriculture and the environment
  • Climate and energy policy and adaptations to climate change
  • Sustainable food production and consumption
  • Lake and marine ecosystems and research on related environmental problems (eutrophication, overfishing, oil accidents) and solutions (sustainable use, rehabilitation and management)
  • Urban ecosystem research, urban environmental policy and urban change
  • Paleoecology and environmental change, responses of plants to air pollution and climatic factors in terrestrial ecosystems
  • Nitrogen aware agriculture: soil health, biological nitrogen fixation, terrestrial nitrogen cycles and pulses in food chains
  • Environmental biotechnology and ecosystems ecology
Environmental Change Research Unit (ECRU)

The central research theme in Environmental Change Research Unit (ECRU) is the development and application of empirical, geospatial, computational and modeling tools to detect global environmental changes and to analyse their ecological, environmental and societal impacts. ECRU's work primarily focuses on northern environments.

En­vir­on­mental Policy Research Group (EPRG)

The Environmental Policy Research Group (EPRG), led by Janne I. Hukkinen, has competence in environmental governance, knowledge integration and participation in environmental and technology issues, sustainability indicators and scenarios, and industrial ecology. The EPRG research group consists of 2-4 post-doctoral researchers and 4-6 doctoral researchers. 

Environmental and resource economics

Environmental and resource economics studies the interaction of society and environment, environmental issues and problems, and nature conservation by applying economic theory and methods. The goal is to find ways to fix market failures so that natural resources are utilized sustainably, while preventing the degradation of nature.

Fisheries and environmental management

The FEM Group is specialized in risk and decision analysis focusing on the Baltic Sea, the applications covering, for example, oil spill risks, eutrophication, marine spatial planning, and fisheries management.  The group develops cross-disciplinary tools in cooperation with other research groups and involve different stakeholders to our work.

Forest Bioeconomy, Busi­ness and Sustainability

Forest Bioeconomy, Business and Sustainability, based at the Department of Forest Sciences, builds on trans-disciplinary research collaboration on sustainable business management, specifically but not exclusively in the context of the forest sector. We understand sustainability as a multi-faceted concept including economic, social and ecological dimensions. In our research, we adopt a system thinking, based on the idea that each local business is embedded in a global socio-ecological system.

In­ter­na­tional Forest Policy Research Group

As the International Forest Policy research group, we strive for a world in which forests are high on national and international agendas, and forest stewards’ rights are acknowledged in the recently established Chair of International Forest Policy. We believe that research can make a difference through the provision of sound evidence of what is and what can be without prescribing what should be.  Our aim is to provide critical analysis to better understand politics and power in highly contested domestic and international policy arenas, often beyond the forestry sector as such.


We, in the Terrestrial Interactions Research Group are interested in how plant and decomposer communities interact in terrestrial ecosystems, how herbivore communities can manipulate this interaction and how these interactions together control the functioning and climatic responses of terrestrial ecosystems.

Urban Ecosystems Research Group

The Urban Ecosystems Research Group of the University of Helsinki is one of the few groups in Finland focusing on research and teaching in the urban setting.

Urban En­vir­on­mental Policy Research Group (UEP)

Urban Environmental Policy research group (UEP) brings together researchers who study climate change adaptation and mitigation in an urban context. We work at the University of Helsinki and Aalto University.

Aquatic Biogeo­chem­istry Research Unit (ABRU)

In Aquatic Biogeochemistry Research Unit (ABRU), we study how the essential elements of life are cycled in water and sediment. In particular, we focus on carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus and silicon cycling. These are the key nutrients whose availability determine the distribution of life in Earth’s aquatic environments. ABRU forms part of the Ecosystems and Environment Research Program. The unit contains three senior scientists (Assistant Professor Tom Jilbert, and Academy of Finland Research Fellows Susanna Hietanen and Karoliina Koho), along with several postdocs, PhD students and MSc students.

More about the programme