Freedom of Research – Contemporary and Transnational Perspectives

Speakers: Eva-Mari Aro, Andrew Graan, Arto Laitinen, Johanna Vuorelma, 23.5.2023 at 5:00–6:30 pm, Think Corner Stage

Speakers: Eva-Mari Aro, Andrew Graan, Arto Laitinen, Johanna Vuorelma 

Live stream: 


Freedom of research is regarded as a fundamental condition for the advancement of scientific knowledge. However, history has shown that, like freedom of the press, freedom of research cannot be taken for granted. But what exactly do we mean by freedom of research, and what are the factors that enable or endanger it in contemporary societies?  

In recent years, the rise of authoritarianism has diminished academic freedom in various parts of the world, but the position of researchers in public discourse also has changed in democratically ruled societies due to political polarization and the dynamics of social media. Furthermore, academic freedom does not depend only on freedom of speech but also on structural preconditions such as adequate career prospects for researchers or ability of researchers to determine their own research agendas. How do researchers in the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences assess the state of academic freedom in today’s world and in different disciplinary and institutional settings?  

The event is organized by the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters and the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies


Speaker Bios: 


Academician of Science Eva-Mari Aro is a research director and professor of Molecular Plant Biology in the Department of Life Technologies at the University of Turku. Aro’s area of specialty is plant molecular biology. Aro has been selected for her substantial contribution to photosynthesis research to the esteemed Royal Society.

Andrew Graan is a Core Fellow at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies. A cultural and linguistic anthropologist, his research examines projectification and the history of project making, the politics of public spheres, international intervention, and the political history of North Macedonia. 

Arto Laitinen is Professor of Social Philosophy at Tampere University. His research topics include social ontology, ethics, normativity and practical reason, the nature of values, the nature of social ideals and pathologies, and philosophical questions related to robotics and artificial intelligence. 

Johanna Vuorelma works as University Researcher at the Centre for European Studies, University of Helsinki. Her current research projects investigate irony in international politics, pandemic authority, and militarism and democracy in Finland. 



Kaisa Kaakinen, kaisa.kaakinen[AT]

Research Coordinator, Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies