Katariina Salmela-Aro, a newly appointed Academy Professor, investigates the effects of climate change and coronavirus on the wellbeing of young people

Climate change and coronavirus are causing anxiety among young people. Doing something to make a difference can empower them and provide a feeling of social togetherness.

The Academy of Finland has appointed Professor of Education Katariina Salmela-Aro from the University of Helsinki as an Academy Professor for the term 1 September 2021–31 August 2026.

Salmela-Aro investigates the effects of climate change and Covid-19 on the wellbeing of young people. Her research focuses on their emotional, cognitive, functional, social and motivational development.

“We employ new and innovative research methods, such as experience sampling. We are using it to survey emotions and instances of optimal learning.”

The goal is to identify positive effects brought about by climate change and the pandemic on young people’s development, such as features of empowerment, optimal learning and social togetherness, as well as negative effects, such as dimensions of burnout, stress and anxiety.

The wellbeing of young people is affected by their friends, digital networks, parents, teachers and communities. The research encompasses all of these areas, and there are also international activities involved.

“Strengthening young people’s resilience, or their mental recovery capacity, is important.”

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