Karen Knop in Memoriam

The Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies mourns the untimely passing of Karen Knop (1960–2022), the Professor of Law at the University of Toronto and the Jane and Aatos Erkko Visiting Professor at the Collegium (2020–21).

During her appointment as the Jane and Aatos Erkko Professor at the Helsinki Collegium, Karen pursued groundbreaking research in foreign relations law, thus contributing to an emerging interdisciplinary topic of global importance. Karen was a generous, brilliant, and highly respected member of our community. Her open-mindedness and curiosity towards a variety of topics led to fruitful collaborations at the Collegium, the Erik Castrén Institute, the Centre of Excellence in Law, Identity and the European Narratives, and far beyond. Her sudden passing is a great loss to us all. Karen will always remain in our memory. 


Fellows who knew Karen expressed their condolences and shared memories about their time together at the Collegium:


“I was shocked and saddened upon learning about Karen’s passing. I remember Karen as someone who, despite her seniority and accomplishments, was very approachable, congenial and friendly. It is my impression that she led at the Collegium by providing an atmosphere where all felt welcome and comfortable to engage.” (Magnus Ryner, King’s College London)


“Karen would brighten up your day any time you would see her. I am still not over this.” (Christine Daigle, Brock University) 


“For me, Karen was a sunny person whose gladness was inspiring and relaxing, her happy laughter just echoed in the Collegium.” (Maijastina Kahlos, University of Lisbon)


I remember Karen as a bright and sparkling person with a very warm personality.” (Ekaterina Gruzdeva, University of Helsinki)


“The ethics of care not only oriented Karen’s work, but was also lived in her everyday life. Karen was always up for a chat. Whenever I saw her in the common room getting coffee, she always asked how I was doing, what I was researching and what I was teaching. She was also one of fellows that checked all the plants and made sure that they were watered and cared for. I have always wanted to thank Karen for her kindness and care for all the humans and the more-than-humans at the Collegium.” (Xin Liu, Karlstad University)


“I didn’t have enough time to get to know Karen as a person because of my maternity leave, but I have a very fond picture of her as a very generous colleague and an extremely curious academic, always itching to learn new things and with a particular humbleness. I have this one memory in mind, where we were sitting in the common room discussing audience and reception studies because she was working on this book about women in international law and there was some online gallery component to it, so she wanted my input as a media scholar. The keenness with which she listened to what I had to say and the myriad ways in which she acknowledged my expertise made me feel validated; a rather rare feeling in the academia, which not many people are able/willing to offer. But Karen did, in the most natural, unpretentious way.” (Kinga Polynczuk-Alenius, University of Helsinki)