Altogether 11 HELSUS professors will start their positions in 2018. In addition to the Institute they are affiliated to the founding Faculties of HELSUS. Two professorships are joint positions with the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE), and the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke).
Leena Järvi is an Associate professor in Applied urban meteorology at the Institute for Atmospheric and Earth System Research (INAR) / Physics and Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science. Her research focuses on urban meteorology and climate and their interaction with local air quality. She leads an urban meteorology research group which uses novel atmospheric observations and modelling to study the interaction between urban surface and the atmosphere such as greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere and how they are modified by land use changes and human activities and how urban structures modify wind flow and turbulence in urban areas. Leena Järvi is PI of the ICOS (Integrated Carbon and Observation System infrastructure) associated ecosystem station in Helsinki and board member of the International Association for Urban Climate.
Leena Järvi's aim is to be able to reduce the uncertainties related to urban meteorological, climate and air quality modelling by providing better understanding and parameters of the affecting processes. These have a great effect on people living in urban areas. One goal is also to provide recommendations on how urban areas should be planned so that they would also be climate resilient and clean for people to live in.
In HELSUS her goal is to integrate urban meteorological research with other urban research fields as urban studies are always multidisciplinary and in order to answer the challenge of the ongoing urbanisation we need to understand the urban ecosystem as a whole. She also wants to develop the urban climate teaching at the University of Helsinki so that future generations can have a wider picture of the urban processes.
Jussi Eronen is an Associate Professor of Long-Term Sustainability Science. He has been trained as a palaeobiologist and palaeoclimatologist, but nowadays he is working on climate and biological systems spanning from the present to the future and all the way to the deep past. He is drawn towards complex system theories and networks and is also interested in socio-ecological systems that humans form together with the surrounding world. He is a founding member of BIOS, and in the core team of the Scientific Consensus on Maintaining Humanity's Life Support Systems in the 21st Century. He is also Chair of the iCCB, integrative Climate Change Biology, together with Jason Head), part of the ETE programme, and an Associate Coordinator for the NOW database.
His research has addressed questions of how climate and ecosystems interact. He aims his research so that the results of his work are relevant for the ongoing discussion about the development of and changes in environments and ecosystems, and to the priorities of society. His research has concentrated on large-scale analysis including theoretical and computational work that can be easily applied to different areas and scales.
In HELSUS his primary goal is to develop the socio-ecological systems framework for understanding how ecology and climate change in tandem with culture and societal well-being. Preventing environmental crises from deepening will require changes in cultural and societal values, but there has been little preparation towards this. We need to understand the long roots of human-environmental systems to appreciate the complexities involved in this kind of change. Even though society is built upon natural resources that are now under threat, environmental questions are still subordinate to short-term economic considerations. Preparing for change first requires understanding its scope, then developing strategies to sustain equitable and resilient social-ecological systems. Jussi Eronen's viewpoints and past activities have been mostly global in scope. At present, he is developing new lines of research in arctic, sub-arctic and boreal ecosystems, both in time and space, although many questions remain global in scope.
Michiru Nagatsu is the Associate Professor of Inter- and Transdisciplinary Methodologies in Sustainability Science at HELSUS and Practical Philosophy, Faculty of Social Sciences.
His research area is the philosophy of science. He conducts interviews and survey-experiments to study the methodology of interdisciplinary research, in particular, sustainability-related sciences such as ecology, economics and behavioural sciences. More specifically he studies (1) how natural and social scientists manage to integrate their expertise in interdisciplinary projects, for example in building models for the management of natural resources, and (2) how to design effective frameworks for interdisciplinary collaboration, based on (1). He also studies pro-social behaviour and how to “nudge” people into adopting more sustainable lifestyle drawing on behavioural economics. Currently, Michiru Nagatsu is an Academy of Finland Research Fellow and works on the project: “Model-building across disciplinary boundaries: Economics, Ecology, and Psychology” (2016–2021). I am also an associate member of SPIN Unit, an international network for urban studies.
Michiru Nagatsu wants to make the world a more sustainable place by making a difference in the design of interdisciplinary research. There have been lots of calls for interdisciplinary sustainability studies while less attention has been paid to actual methodological challenges in combining expertise from different disciplines with various research methods and traditions. Based on empirical studies he would like to identify real challenges and keys to successful interdisciplinary sustainability sciences.
In HELSUS his goal is to facilitate interdisciplinary projects drawing on my expertise in the methodology and philosophy of science. He also wants to use his skills in connecting people to make HELSUS a vibrant research institute where people meet and come up with innovative ideas.
Franklin Obeng-Odoom is with the Development Studies Research Group within the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Helsinki, where he is Associate Professor of Social Sustainability of Urban Transformations in the Global South. He is also a Member of the Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science, where he seeks to question, to understand, and to transcend current political economy of development, cities, and natural resources. Doing so is important to stress the political-economic interests that shape the sustainability crises and their distinctive socio-spatial forms in the Global South.
His latest book, to be published by the University of Toronto Press, is entitled, The Myth of Private Property. Obeng-Odoom is Associate Editor of the Forum for Social Economics and the substantive Editor of African Review of Economics and Finance.
Dr. Franklin Obeng-Odoom is a recipient of the Kapp Prize, named after K.W. Kapp, pre-eminent for being one of the first to call attention to the social and ecological costs of the market economy. More about his work can be found here.
Hanna Tuomisto is an Associate Professor in Sustainable Food Systems at the Department of Agricultural Sciences, Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science and Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke). Her research focuses on the interaction between environmental changes and food systems, and especially how novel food technologies could contribute to the sustainability of food systems in the future. She leads the Future Sustainable Food Systems research group that uses multi-disciplinary approaches for seeking solutions to the sustainability challenges. The main focus of the group is on the use and development of environmental sustainability assessment methods, such as life cycle assessment, for measuring the environmental impacts of different agricultural and food production methods. The current projects range from seeking possibilities to improve the current livestock and plant production practices to estimating the potential of novel food production technologies, such as vertical farming and cell-culture based food production technologies (i.e. cellular agriculture).
Hanna Tuomisto aims at contributing to the improvement of sustainability of food systems and development of sustainability assessment methods. She is especially interested in the development of sustainability assessment methods that consider wider consequential impacts that are ignored by the currently used assessment practices. Her goal is to estimate the sustainability consequences of transforming the current food systems by large-scale utilisation of novel food production technologies.
In HELSUS, Hanna Tuomisto is hoping to create interdisciplinary collaborations for the development of comprehensive sustainability assessment methods interlinking environmental, economic and social factors. She is also interested in building new collaborations with various stakeholder groups for seeking ways to implement sustainability transformations in practice. Tuomisto will also be contributing to the development of University level teaching related sustainable food systems and sustainability assessment methods.
Reetta Toivanen, professor of sustainability science, explores the sustainable wellbeing of indigenous peoples as well as the relationship between local contexts and human rights. Her current research project focuses on the Arctic region, but she also intends to conduct comparative research elsewhere. She is interested in the global future of natural subsistence economies and their relationship with the maintenance of cultures and languages.
Toivanen is the deputy director of the Centre of Excellence in Law, Identity and the European Narratives (EuroStorie) as well as the leader of the All Youth Want to Rule Their World (ALL-YOUTH) research project funded by the Academy of Finland’s Strategic Research Council.
Toivanen wishes to play a role in protecting the long-term prospects of people still involved in natural subsistence economies. This will promote the preservation of the languages and cultures of indigenous peoples and support their revival. Each “development plan” that disregards the local population, such as the Arctic Railway plans, causes concern and generates a sense of unease, which is directly reflected in the health and wellbeing of young people. Toivanen wishes to ensure that the perspective of human rights is a key principle guiding decision-making.
The Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science (HELSUS) provides an innovative arena for genuine interdisciplinary cooperation. Toivanen hopes to learn more about the intersections between the human and natural sciences and to help open them up to novel research and high-impact scholarship. She wishes to provide student-focused, collaborative and multidisciplinary teaching on topics such as the Arctic region, and raise the profile of the University of Helsinki’s high-quality Arctic research.
Niko Soininen is an Assistant Professor in Sustainability Law. His research focuses on the regulation and governance of social-ecological systems with a particular emphasis on freshwater and marine systems. In his recent work, he has studied law’s fitness for regulating complex phenomena, such as the ecological condition of fresh and marine waters in a political environment geared towards economic growth. He is a subproject PI in Strategic Research Council funded interdisciplinary project entitled BlueAdapt, which studies adaptive governance as a mechanism for reconciling resilience of aquatic ecosystems and sustainable production of energy and food. He is co-editor in chief for the Finnish Environmental Law Review. Outside academia, he has worked as a consultant for HELCOM, the World Bank, and for several ministries responsible for implementing marine environmental law, water law and nature conservation law in Finland.
Niko Soininen wants to make a difference in designing regulation that is fit for tackling global environmental change and addressing deep uncertainty in regulating complex adaptive social-ecological systems. Currently, much of environmental law is unfit for this purpose. It lacks a systems perspective, is maladaptive to change, favours law over other policy instruments and is all too rarely science-based. If environmental law wishes to stay relevant in the 21st century, it must learn and respect how social-ecological systems function.
In HELSUS Niko Soininen studies the resilience and adaptive capacity of environmental regulation. He has expertise in water law and marine environmental law on global, EU and national levels and in the theoretical building blocks of this regulatory system. He wishes to gain a deeper interdisciplinary understanding of complex social-ecological freshwater and marine systems with the aim of regulating the sustainable production of energy and food more effectively. Simultaneously, he can offer scholars and students from other disciplines an understanding of the legal system regulating the human–environment interface. In order to shift law onto a more sustainable path, there is a need to understand that law itself is also a complex adaptive system with valuable functions.