Alumni of the Month, October 2023

The October 2023 edition of the HCAS Alumni Gallery features Jari Lahti and Miia Halme-Tuomisaari.
Jari Lahti

Currently, I work as Professor of Clinical Psychology, Mental Health, and its Interventions at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Helsinki. I am psychologist and cognitive psychotherapist by training. My research group focuses on the biological mechanisms that link environmental exposures with mental health and cognitive abilities. I am also leading IMAGINE-consortium, funded by the Strategy Research Council, that studies the effectiveness and implementation of four psychosocial mental health interventions for the young people. 

I was HCAS Core Fellow in 2015–2018. I was appointed as University lecturer at the University of Helsinki at the same time as Core Fellow in 2015 and as a professor in 2020. The period at the Collegium was time to enjoy research and fully concentrate on it. In terms of scientific publications, those years were among the most productive ones in my whole career. In addition, the freedom to focus on research also enabled me to network with the research community globally and locally. Those networks have been a cornerstone of my research activities ever since and the HCAS pre-Christmas party I would not miss for the world. Undoubtedly, the three years at the HCAS have had a remarkable effect on my career in academia.

Miia Halme-Tuomisaari

I am associate professor in Human Rights Studies at Lund University, a position that I started directly after my stay at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies as a Core Fellow in 2018–2020. In scholarly terms I am a legal anthropologist who studies the past, present and future of the contemporary human rights phenomenon. More specifically I explore how the 1940s vision for a robust world order structured around human rights and the rule of law is embodied in UN human rights monitoring cycles, activist strategies, different documentary genres and expert practices. I also examine how the concept and subject of human rights change through time, as well as how the relationship of the local and the global influences this change. I have conducted ethnographic research at the UN Human Rights Committee, the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, NGO networks and a Nordic network of human rights experts.

Within the University of Helsinki the Collegium has always shone as a beacon of curiosity-led inter-disciplinary work. My time as a Collegium Fellow illustrated how this in practice means a combination of academic freedom and invigorating collegial exchanges across disciplinary borders, both of which I continue to cherish. After my fellowship the community of Collegium alumni has continued to offer meaningful anchoring at the University of Helsinki. Working at the Collegium provided me with much needed time to focus on a book project that had been brewing for numerous years. It also offered the intellectual space for thinking of new projects. I am currently reaping the rewards of that space via a 1-year book writing sabbatical awarded by the Riksbankens Jubileumsfond focusing on the ‘looping’ practices of human rights expansion.