Research profile

The Faculty of Arts conducts cutting-edge research with a global impact. The Faculty has a strong research focus, and its research in many fields meets the highest level in Europe and the world. International excellence requires a great deal of work, networking and critical engagement. The Faculty provides its researchers with the best possible research equipment and actively works to improve existing infrastructures and build new ones. In addition, the Faculty aims to develop its research through regular assessment and the help of an international scientific advisory board that includes representatives of leading universities from around the world. The Faculty cooperates closely with universities in the other Nordic capitals and the League of European Research Universities (LERU).

The profile of the University of Helsinki Faculty of Arts has three distinct orientations that guide most of the fields:

  • A historical-temporal orientation: Many of the fields represented in the Faculty have a strong temporal dimension: they examine long temporal spans, traditions and changes in linguistic, cultural and social phenomena as well as contemporary issues.
  • A global orientation[SKE1]: The global scope of the Faculty’s fields is notable in the area of language and cultural studies, including at the international level.
  • The Faculty of Arts has compiled and continues to compile materials for different fields of the humanities (e.g., language corpora). Compiling such material and rendering it usable is difficult and labour intensive, but the results are highly important for the research community both in Finland and internationally. The infrastructure for the humanities is one of the key elements of the Faculty’s reputation.

For the strategy period of 2013–2018, the Faculty identified the following research focus areas:

  • Research in cultural and linguistic diversity
  • Research in interaction
  • Language technology and corpus studies and digital humanities
  • Russian Studies

The Faculty boasts several strong fields, some of which are very small (e.g., classical studies). The viability of these fields is reinforced through Faculty-wide collaboration.

Centres of excellence

The Faculty of Arts operates two centres of excellence in the period 2012–2017:

In addition, the Centre of Excellence in Philosophical Psychology, Morality and Politics, headed by Academy Professor Simo Knuuttila, will continue the work of the History of Mind Research Unit, which operated from 2002 to 2007.

Academy of Finland professors

Markku Peltonen (term of office: 2014–2018)

Professor of General History Markku Peltonen (b. 1957) is one of the world’s leading scholars in the modern history of thought. He has an extensive network of international research partners. The strengths of Peltonen’s research relate, in particular, to the production of new knowledge about the early stages of participatory politics and representative democracy in the early modern period. He challenges several prevailing analyses of political participation and offers a new interpretation of the importance of participatory politics to political thought and state formation.

Established in autumn 2010, the Scientific Advisory Board (SAB), consisting of leading international researchers, supports the Faculty of Arts’ research activities. The SAB members visit Helsinki each year and contribute new perspectives from around the world to Finnish humanities research. They also provide valuable feedback on how the research conducted in Helsinki appears to outside observers.

The Scientific Advisory Board comprises the following researchers (2017-2020):

  • Professori Nikolai Vakhtin, European University at St. Petersburg
  • Professori Sigrid Thorgeirsdottir, University of Iceland
  • Professori Jane Ohlmeyer, Trinity College Dublin
  • Professori Bernd Kortmann, University of Freiburg
  • Professori Thomas DuBois, University of Wisconsin-Madison

No less than 46% of the humanities research communities that participated in the evaluation of research and doctoral education in 2010–2012 received funding. The BAULT research group in language technology and corpus linguistics, headed by Kimmo Koskenniemi, topped the ‘Exceptional’ category. The first place in the ‘Close to cutting edge’ category went to University Lecturer Pertti Anttonen’s research community in folklore and cultural studies, which also excelled in terms of publications.

The Faculty of Arts and its departments also succeeded in the previous research assessment in 2005.  Of the University’s departments or independent institutes at the time, 20 received a score of seven, the highest rating, and 27 a score of six. Five of the top scorers and nine of the units that received the score of six belonged to the Faculty of Arts.