HELSUS Brown Bag Lunch

HELSUS Brown Bag Lunch pitkä

 HELSUS Brown Bag Lunches are concise lunchtime events where participants bring their own lunch box and gather to a seminar with presentations over topical research themes. The 20-30 minutes talks by the presenter will be followed by an open discussion for about 30-40 minutes. The topics are related to five HELSUS research themes, or other relevant sustainability science topics. No advance registration is needed. 

General information


Due to the COVID-19 situation events held via Zoom until further notice.

Link (click here), Passcode: brownbag 


On Fridays at 11.00-12.00.


HELSUS Members and others

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Accesibility information of the venue: There is an elevator access to the 2nd floor of Porthania, with the one in the middle being wide enough also for electric wheelchairs. At the HELSUS entrance there are two steps with a ramp with a railing going up to the door. For more information please reach out to helsus@helsinki.fi 

HELSUS Brown Bag Lunches Autumn 2020

Event dates: 18.9., 9.10., 30.10., 20.11. and 11.12.

18.9. Creating a SustFood Database for Finland: considerations for diets with lower environmental impacts combining economic, socio-cultural, and nutritional aspects, presenter Rachel Mazac

We will walk through the background and considerations for optimizing diets with lower environmental impacts combining economic, socio-cultural, and nutritional aspects. Discussions to follow will be on what further considerations are needed and the benefits and drawbacks of novel/future foods in sustainable food systems.

Bio: Rachel Mazac, is a doctoral student working with the Future Sustainable Food Systems research group at the University of Helsinki. She models sustainable diets and future food systems through an interdisciplinary approach considering the environmental, socio-cultural, and economic dimensions of sustainability. She graduated with a M.Sc. in Integrated Studies in Land and Food Systems from the Public Health and Urban Nutrition research group in the Faculty of Land and Food Systems at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. Prior to her M.Sc. studies, she worked for Spark-Y: Youth Action Labs, educating and empowering youth through sustainability and urban agriculture. Rachel is now a member of the Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science (HELSUS) and leads their monthly Sustainability Discussion Group.

9.10. Understanding Circular Economy in Everyday Life: Trade, Sort & Recycle? Perceptions of High School Students from Finnish Context, presenter Angelina Korsunova

Abstract: It is generally accepted that governments, municipalities, business and citizens alike have a role to play in transitioning towards circular economy (CE). Yet most academic and policy discussions of CE revolve around technological solutions and business models. Although CE also means significant changes to ways of living, these aspects of CE are barely addressed. The citizen role is traditionally assumed to be the consumers or users of the newly developed solutions, while also following guidelines for sorting and recycling. Little is known on why citizens would want to be part of the CE, and how they envision being part of it. Our study addresses this gap by exploring perceptions of young adults in Finland on how CE reflects into their everyday life. Our dataset consists of 249 responses from high school students in Finland to open-ended questions regarding CE. Our preliminary analysis highlights that CE is strongly associated with recycling, waste sorting and re-selling/buying second-hand, which is in line with conventional roles of efficient recyclers and consumers. Although CE harbors wider potential for more active citizen roles related to repair, maintenance and upcycling, these aspects are often overlooked in favour of more familiar lifestyles. Authors: Angelina Korsunova, Susanna Horn and Annukka Vainio. 


Angelina Korsunova is a post-doctoral researcher in the Research Group on Behavioural Change Toward Sustainability at the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry, and member of HELSUS, University of Helsinki. Angelina’s current research focuses on the human dimension of circular economy - social and cultural aspects of CE, and improving citizen well-being in transitioning towards sustainability. Angelina is an active member of the Climate University network, interested in further developing education for sustainability.

Susanna Horn (DSc in Econ) is a senior research scientist in the Center for Sustainable Consumption and Production at the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE). She is currently working in projects related to life cycle approaches and circular economy from different perspectives, such as various value chains, ecodesign, climate change impacts and climate regulations. Susanna is actively participating in several theme groups preparing the strategic programme promoting circular economy in Finland.

Annukka Vainio is an associate professor and head of the Research Group on Behavioural Change Toward Sustainability at Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry, member of HELSUS at University of Helsinki. A social psychologist by education, Annukka is serving as a Member of the Finnish Climate Panel.

30.10. Sense(s) of soil – invisible work and multiple ways of knowing in practices of regenerative food (re)production, presenter Galina Kallio

In the era of ecological crisis, we can see an increasing number of people re-organizing economies that fit within ecological boundaries, promote social equity and provide meaningful livelihoods. However, up to date dominant economic theories and efforts to include topics of sustainability into organization and management theories (OMT) have failed to acknowledge other-than-human beings and the wider web of life in the existing conceptualizations. In my current research, I explore empirically and theoretically how economic organizing is an accomplishment of complex and entwined interdependencies between humans and other living organisms. By building on theories of diverse economies and environmental humanities, I examine diverse sense(s) of soil in regenerative food (re)production. In my ongoing ethnographic study, I have followed how people by producing food form relationships to their soils and work with other living organisms and technology, and how people earn a livelihood by focusing on regeneration. In this presentation, I present my preliminary analysis on how multiple ways of knowing and relating to soils and other-than-human beings emerge and unfold in the practices of regenerative food (re)production. I also bring the concept of invisible work into discussion to capture the nature and the type of work being done by humans, other-than-human beings, and technology that is not commonly visible beyond the farms, doesn’t have monetary value and is non-existent in the public and political discourses. 

Galina Kallio is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Helsinki. She holds a Dr. Sc. (Econ & Bus. Adm.) from Aalto School of Business, and a Fulbright Scholarship from the University of California, Berkeley. She works on the topics of alternative forms of organizing, diverse economies, regenerative agriculture and human-soil relations. She is fascinated about exploring the intersections between science and art and seeks methodologies accounting for the study, analysis and representation of the non-symbolic, affectual, aesthetical and ethical ways of knowing. She works at the crossing of academia and activism by conducting research and by participating actively in local CSA’s and in societal discussions to support a bio-centric paradigm shift.

20.11. Commuting, environment and health: understanding environmental exposure during travel and its impacts on our health and wellbeing, presenter Age Poom

Ensuring equal access to healthy and pleasant travel environments is one of the grand challenges in urban sustainability. Low congestion levels, street-level greenery and attractive travel infrastructure prosper active travel, prevent traffic emissions and bring health benefits. At the same time, traffic pollution is one of the dominant urban environmental health threats that is associated with increased stress, respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, and premature mortality. Equal opportunities to avoid health risks and access healthy, safe and enjoyable travel environment help to reduce the determinants of socio-spatial health inequities. In short, well accessible and healthy low-carbon travel environments are one of the cornerstones of urban liveability.

However, the knowledge on population level environmental exposures during travel, and the understanding on their content, dynamics and cumulative effects are extremely limited. In my presentation, I introduce the results of my systematic review on studies that explore environmental exposure during travel. I explore how the current exposure research addresses the dynamic interactions between travel environment and human mobility, and which connections are made to health and wellbeing, sustainable transportation, and fair and liveable cities. Specifically, I identify what data, methods and measures are used in the exposure assessment, and which spatiotemporal and content biases exist in the current body of scholarly research.

Finally, I relate travel time environmental exposure assessment to exposure-optimized routing concept and the Green Paths routing tool recently developed by our research group. Route planning that takes into consideration the quality of travel environment empowers individuals to make exposure-aware route choices in their daily mobility. Exposure-optimized routing also enables to identify spatial access to healthy travel environments and assess environmental inequities at the level of populations

Age Poom is a postdoctoral researcher interested in human-environmental interactions, urban geography and sustainability science. Currently, she studies the interlinkages of human mobility and environmental exposure in the research project UIA HOPE – Healthy Outdoor Premises for Everyone, and contributes to the development of the Green Paths routing tool. Age holds a PhD degree in human geography from the University of Tartu where she worked as a university lecturer in environmental management. She has participated in several international projects on human mobility, urban geography and spatial planning. Age is an editorial team member of the SAGE peer-reviewed journal Big Data & Society.

11.12. Ricardo Correia

HELSUS Brown Bag Lunches Spring 2020

17.01. Economic, social, and political geography in the context of Sustainable Urban Development?, presenter Mikko Weckroth

Watch the recorded seminar on Unitube

As an interdisciplinary inquiry, sustainability sciences are characterized by complex and to some extent overlapping concepts. This complexity is increasingly apparent when focusing on specific research areas, which inevitably involve a wide range of methodological variation e.g.  “Sustainable Urban Systems / Development”. In this presentation, I try to analyze and disentangle some of this conceptual complexity by utilizing concepts, ideas and theories used in political, social, and economic geography.

The research on sustainable cities and urbanism is dominated by techno-economic rationality and supply-side solutions. In contrast, human geographers have tendency to argue that socio-spatial as well as political context matters when trying to understand the agency, action, and decision-making of individuals.  Therefore, insights from political and behavioral economic geography can complement economic perspectives while trying to understand socio-spatial human behavior in several areas relevant for sustainability sciences (e.g. voting behavior, consumption choices, housing markets and location choices). In this presentation, I will present and discuss certain geographical but also mental divisions and dimensions within societies that affect these key issues in sustainability sciences.

Within this context, I shall address the following questions: What is the socioeconomic and political geography of climate change attitudes and efficacy? What can be learn from interpreting the carbon neutral agendas of cities from the political geography perspective and especially as acts of city-regionalism? What is the role of human wellbeing and values in the transformation into sustainability? And ultimately, instead being fixated on “sustainable cities”, should we be discussing on a broader concept of “sustainable spatial form of a society”?

In this presentation, I shall also present my past and present research on the geographies of wellbeing, human values, and development and try to reflect these results to different definitions on Sustainable Urban Development and Systems.

Bio: Mikko Weckroth is a postdoctoral researcher in the Sustainable Urban Systems research group at the University of Helsinki. He has an academic background in regional studies and human geography and he has previously worked as a university lecturer in human geography and as a postdoctoral researcher in a H2020 project IMAJINE addressing the territorial inequalities and advancing spatial justice within the European Union. In his current work Mikko is conducting research on socioeconomic geography of climate change attitudes along with his perennial interest to understand the role of subjective wellbeing and human values shaping the spatial form of societies.

31.01. Indicators of wetland sustainability: methodological approaches and field-based experiences, presenter Sara Fraixedas

Wetland ecosystems are home to some of the richest biodiversity on the planet, providing ecosystem services of crucial importance to both local and global communities. Yet, wetlands are listed among the most threatened ecosystems in the world. Numerous efforts are therefore being undertaken to support conservation and sustainable use of wetlands. The success of these conservation initiatives is often monitored through the use of biodiversity indicators. Because of their sensitivity to environmental changes, birds are increasingly used as indicators to assess the status and trends of wetland ecosystems. In this talk, I will first provide empirical evidence of the use of bird indicators to assess the conservation and management of wetlands based on case studies from Spain, France and Finland. Second, I will discuss a participatory monitoring scheme with local Indigenous communities from Lake Turkana (Northern Kenya), an Important Bird Area located along one of the main migration routes of Palearctic wintering birds in Africa. This compilation of case studies is conceived as an integrative approach to advance the use of bird indicators for assessing wetland conservation in an era of rapid social-ecological changes.

Bio: Sara Fraixedas is a HELSUS postdoctoral fellow and part of the Global Change and Conservation group. Her research project entitled “Towards wetland sustainability: operationalizing socio-ecological indicators in Europe” aims to provide decision-makers with a complete set of socio-ecological indicators in order to inform a European-level strategic plan to address wetland sustainability. The present work will serve to broaden the scope of policy options available to address the current drivers of wetland loss and degradation in Europe. By feeding the results of this project into science-policy interfaces, the impact of the project will be directly channelled into producing policy-relevant science and stimulating transformative change towards wetland sustainability in Europe.

14.02. Navigating the science policy interface:  forestry researcher perspectives, presenter Maria Ojanen

Improved science-policy linkages are needed to address sustainability challenges. Multiple efforts have been pursued to enhance knowledge exchange between scientists and society over years. The subsequent science policy literature suggests that effective science-policy engagement requires evidence that is perceived as credible, relevant and legitimate. However, given that many sustainability challenges are so called “wicked problems”, marked by multiple interests, values and contestation over the solutions, there is a  myriad of perceptions and needs over what constitutes such evidence. How do scientists navigate this complexity?  

In this presentation, I will discuss how forest scientists deal with this complexity and contestation in science policy interfaces, characterized by several actors and competing interests regarding how forests should be managed - and for whose benefit. I use the concepts of credibility, relevance and legitimacy (Cash et al. 2003) to explore the challenges and tensions experienced by scientists in science-policy interfaces as well as their strategies of responding to them. Based on the analysis of in-depth interview data, I will highlight how expertise and scientific knowledge is contested and ignored in knowledge exchange processes. I will also discuss how the source of research funding and the funders’ requirement for societal impact can adversely affect the quality of scientific knowledge.  The results indicate that challenges are best met with a wide range of strategies, including partnering and using strategic planning tools. I conclude by drawing lessons that can inform and strengthen future science-policy engagements. 

Bio: Maria Ojanen is a PhD student in the International Forest Policy Group at the Department of Forest Sciences. Her research focuses on evidence informed decision making, especially regarding how evidence is generated and how science and scientists influence policy making processes related to natural resource policies. 

28.02. Learning sustainability competencies, presenter Kalle Juuti

Adolescents are concerned with global warming, diminishing biodiversity and the lack of global and intergenerational equity. Recently, many climate demonstrations and activities have been organised internationally by youths who are eager to create a sustainable future and demand modern lifestyle changes. The presentation focuses on the question how school subjects could help students learn to make changes and how action competence could be tackled in teacher education. First I will introduce the sustainability competencies (System thinking, Normative thinking, Anticipatory competence, strategic / action competence and interpersonal competence). Further, I will introduces circular economy and invention processes as a pedagogical approach to apply and learn powerful disciplinary knowledge in building a more sustainable future. 

Bio: Kalle Juuti is an associate professor (Digital learning at schools) at the faculty of Educational sciences. He has been working within teacher education about two decade. Lately, his research topics has been teachers’ professional learning, project-based learning, digital tools in teaching and learning, interest and emotions in learning, learning powerful disciplinary knowledge, and students’ invention as a pedagogical approach to learn sustainability competencies. He has engaged in educational design research as a methodological approach. He has a physics, mathematics and drama teacher qualification.

CANCELLED: 13.03. Becoming Earth: Rethinking and (re-)connecting with the Earth, Sámi lands and relations, presenter Hanna Guttorm

This presentation will be an autoethnographic inquiry and storytelling on and from multiple perspectives on a multiple world, or a pluriverse, following eg. de la Cadena and Escobar. The presentation will dwell around the question: What on Earth is it, or could it be, to be an Earthling, a Sámi/Indigenous, a habitant of this planet, in the era of super-complexity, in the need of turning the gaze towards the more-than-human(ist)? The presentation will not be concentrating on producing that much new knowledge on any ‘reality’, but more on finding paths to different actions and mindsets. These possible paths will be outlined and dreamed with inspiration of Sámi concepts and stories concerning life/nature/environment, as well as other Indigenous ontologies.

Bio: PhD Hanna Guttorm is a postdoctoral fellow at HELSUS, with a doctoral degree in education. She is widely interested in life and its’ possibilities on our planet. She is especially inspired on Indigenous ontologies and post theories with those she investigates, how we should do and write research in order to make a change towards more ecological, social and cultural sustainability and solidarity possible.


CANCELLED: 03.04. International Marine Mammal Law, Nikolas Sellheim

Dr Nikolas Sellheim presents his new book International Marine Mammal Law.


CANCELLED: 24.04. Re-thinking sustainability transformation of Northern sparsely populated areas, presenters Daria Gritsenko and Nadezhda Stepanova

Extreme environmental conditions, sparsely distributed human populations, and diverse local economies characterize the Russian Arctic and Far East. As global changes in the environment and the economic priorities of nations accelerate and globalized societies emerge, there is a neesd for multidisciplinary research into how the Arctic and Far East can be developed sustainably. Yet, when it comes to sustainability indicators, it is clear that little consideration thus far has been given to sparsely populated and remote territories. Rather, the majority of indicators have been developed and tested using empirical research gathered from cities and densely populated rural localities. As a result, there is no develop scientific technique that can be used to monitor the development of sparsely populated territories and inform policy choices that account for local specificity. We are working on a conceptual model for linking sustainability to the unique characteristics of the sparsely populated regions of the Arctic and Far East. We provide an empirical illustration based on regional-level data from the Russian sparsely populated territories. We conclude by suggesting indicators that could be best suited to promoting balanced regional development that accounts for the environment, economy, and social needs of sparsely populated territories.

Bio: Daria Gritsenko has PhD in public policy, she is Assistant professor of Russian Big Data Methodology in administration, economic and political governance in the Aleksanteri Institute HU; holds a membership at the Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science (HELSUS); the founder and coordinator of the Digital Russia Studies network. Expert in environmental sustainability, large infrastructure governance in the Russian Arctic, the policy-making activities of private actors. Investigated the effects of Russian energy policy on local sustainability in the Arctic in a number of international Academy projects. PI in the project “Sustainable development in sparsely populated regions: The case of the Russian Arctic and Far East”.

Bio: PhD Nadezhda Stepanova is a postdoctoral fellow at HELSUS, with a doctoral degree in Regional Economy. She is interested in the Arctic sustainability as well as the strategic planning and spatial development in Russian North.

The information about Brown Bag Lunch seminars has been removed to the Past events -section