HSSH April Newsletter 4/2023

Recent news and upcoming events at HSSH – read more below and don't forget to subscribe to our newsletter!


HSSH and HU Research Funding Services pilot project support EU project applications – Mikko Salmela's PLEDGE project received support through the project


HSSH's key tasks include supporting applications for external international research funding. The goal is to get more applications for EU's Horizon Europe funding and to increase the amount of international research funding. To achieve this goal HSSH, together with HU's Research Funding Services, has implemented a pilot project offering distinguished researchers support for writing the Horizon Europe consortium application. Three researchers and research groups were selected for the first phase of the project.

Docent Mikko Salmela was one of the researchers participating with his project "Politics of Grievance and Democratic Governance" (PLEDGE). "Politics of grievance" is politics that starts from perceived injustices and emphasizes them. Examples are civil rights movements such as Black Lives Matter and #MeToo, environmental movements such as Extinction Rebellion (Elokapina) and Fridays for Future, and right-wing populist political movements. PLEDGE interprets political grievances as emotional signals of disaffection, frustration and insecurities that can develop into either anti- or prodemocratic outcomes.

"The PLEDGE project intends to offer a new understanding of anti- and pro-democratic trajectories of political grievances, and to co-create tools and practices of emotionally intelligent and responsive democratic governance and policy communication that promote prodemocratic forms of civic engagement. The project will provide a framework of the emotional mechanisms of anti- and prodemocratic grievance politics that explain dynamic interrelations between the emotions, values, and identities of citizens and groups, and empirically decode the psychological, sociocultural, and political drivers of these emotional mechanisms into operationalizable measures and indicators,” Salmela says.

The project involves 15 partners – researchers, policy makers, civil society actors and citizens – from 11 European countries; and its context is the political debate about the Covid-19 pandemic, Russia's war of aggression in Ukraine, and the climate and energy crisis.

The application of the PLEDGE project became the pilot of HSSH's support program, as the submission dates of the other two applications selected for the program are later this year and next year. Salmela was satisfied with the support program.

"I am very happy and grateful that HSSH gave me and the consortium I assembled the opportunity to participate in the support program for EU project applications. In my long research career, I have had time to study many topics. The topic of this application, political psychology, is the latest, and it is great that HSSH wanted to support our interdisciplinary application," he says.

According to Salmela, the most valuable contribution of the support program was the salary of a postdoc for three months to prepare the application, the advice of Research Funding Services experts, and the application writing workshop organized in Helsinki at the beginning of February.

"Ruta Kazlauskaite, who was hired as a postdoc, did an excellent job, and her contribution to the completion of the application was invaluable. Sanna Villikka and Riikka Sarasjärvi from Research Funding Services helped as best they could both in preparing the consortium's budget and by advising us about the support offered by the Helsinki-Uusimaa Regional Council for EU project applications. This support was important because it allowed more consortium members to be invited to the project's writing workshop. Applying for support turned out to be a remarkably bureaucratic process compared to HSSH's support but was successful in the end. In addition to HSSH's support, I would like to thank Emilia Palonen for the cooperation related to project management, which made it possible to send the application," Salmela says.

"24 applications were submitted in the call, and supposedly three projects receive funding, so the competition is fierce. HSSH's support program offered our consortium the opportunity to prepare a competitive application. Let's hope for the best!"

The feedback received so far from the implemented pilot project has been positive and HSSH intends to continue to offer support for making EU applications. The exact form of the support will be determined when the experience offered by the pilot project has been analyzed and the limits of resources have been clarified. The next round of support will be informed at a joint press conference by HSSH and Research Funding Services on May 23, 2023.


Rewarding discussions and diverse collaboration with HSSH Visiting Professor Ewan Jones (Downing College, Cambridge)


HSSH's Visiting Professor Programme strengthens international cooperation by bringing internationally recognized researchers to the City Centre Campus of the University of Helsinki. The program runs from 2022 to 2025, and with two previous application rounds 13 researchers from different parts of the world have visited Helsinki. The visits will continue during the fall semester, and at the same time the programme's third round of applications will begin.

Ewan Jones, Assistant Professor of English Literature at Downing College, Cambridge visited the Faculty of Arts at the University of Helsinki during late March and early April. Jones' visit to Helsinki was coordinated by Senior University Lecturer in English Philology Merja Polvinen from the University of Helsinki.

The Visiting Professors' programme during their visits includes, for example, public lectures and participation in the activities of research groups on the City Centre Campus. During his visit, Ewan Jones gave a lecture on his latest research on attention and distraction in 18th and 19th-century science and culture.

"In his official program this was the presentation aimed more at those interested in the traditional study of literature and culture. In addition, we organized a workshop on the use of computational methods in the study of the history of ideas, language, and literature. There, Ewan discussed the work of Cambridge Concept Lab, and there the focus was more on the methods available for the analysis of large amounts of data," Merja Polvinen says.

In addition, Jones participated in a research seminar in the field of English literature and met with Doctoral Researchers. The collaboration took place in the Faculty of Arts between several research groups. The collaboration included the Instrumental Narratives project (iNARR), funded by the Academy of Finland, which focuses on the analysis of the narrative form and the consideration of its cognitive and social roles. VARIENG, The Research Unit for Variation, Contacts and Change in English, on the other hand, represented research in linguistics. This unit uses many corpus methods to map the properties of various texts, including fiction. Also central was the Digital Humanities unit, from which Professor Mikko Tolonen was the second host of the visit. The themes of the visit – literary research, corpus linguistics and history of ideologies – were based on these three research groups.

The visit was a positive experience overall, and all parties are open to doing another one in the future, even though there are currently no concrete plans. Discussions and cooperation will also continue remotely.

"During both the visiting lecture and the workshop, there was a lively discussion about how digital methods, close reading and consideration of the historical context can support each other. There are still plenty of challenges, because starting from one angle can easily make invisible some information that is central to other disciplines. However, the idea may not be to reach the end point of the process, but to build feedback loops between different results and methods. Such discussions with Ewan were particularly fruitful, as he is one of the few researchers who has a very keen eye for the traditional reading of texts, their historical contexts, as well as being an expert on what computational methods can do," Polvinen says.

The third round of applications for HSSH's Visiting Professor Programme will begin soon. The call for applications will be announced on our channels in the near future.


Developing physiological measuring devices on an Invention Pedagogy course


HSSH’s Project Planner Visajaani Salonen, together with a Visiting Researcher from the University of Helsinki and University Lecturer from the University of Turku, Tellervo Härkki, have collaborated to plan an assignment for the Invention Pedagogy course at the Rauma Campus, Department of Teacher Education. The assignment is to develop physiological measuring devices.

On the course, two groups of four students each aim to design a measurement vest for everyday use. As a reference, master-level handicraft education students use discontinued sports measurement vests from Movesense and Shock Absorber. The students have access to Movesense technology and also conduct comparative measurements using Firstbeat Bodyguard 2.

The purpose of the course work is to examine whether a solution suitable for daily measurement can be developed for heart rate variability measurement that would meet the criteria for scientific research.


3.5.2023 Dynamic Structural Equation Models workshop


Wednesday 3 May 09.00-11.00, 12-14

There is large interest in intensive longitudinal data analysis in educational research. The time-series-based Dynamic Structural Equation Model (DSEM) allows researchers to model the time-dynamics of processes over time, using single and multiple variables measured within a finite time-window. Intensive longitudinal data of multiple individuals is enabled in a multilevel framework. By specifying random autoregressive and cross-lagged effects, individual differences in within-person processes can be parameterized at the between-level. Finally, person-characteristics can be included in models to predict processes.

In this workshop we will cover: (1) An introduction to key-terms in time-series modelling such as lagged variables, residuals, stationarity, equidistance of time-lags. We will eye-ball data in R. (2) Multiple participant models with time-points nested in person, using the CASS data of university students’ positive and negative emotions during two weeks. We will step-by-step use the Mplus-demo and full-version to investigate relationships between variables at time T and lagged variables at time T-1, giving full auto-regressive and cross-lagged models, and visualize finding from these using R. (3) We will briefly review next steps such as models with individually varying residuals and correlated residuals, how to set more informed priors for the Bayesian estimator, and review studies of sample size requirements for DSEM.

Lars-Erik Malmberg is Professor of Quantitative Methods in Education, at the Department of Education, University of Oxford, UK. He has more than 100 publications (peer-reviewed articles, book chapters, and reports). He was Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Learning and Instruction 2018-21. His current research interests are on intraindividual approaches to learning processes, and modelling of intensive longitudinal data. He has published on effects of education, child care and parenting on developmental and educational outcomes, and teacher development. He applies advanced quantitative models to the investigation of substantive research questions in education. Links between educational phenomena and physiology were explored in the Emerging Field Group “The potential of biophysiology for understanding learning and teaching experiences”.

Professor Lars-Erik Malmberg from the University of Oxford will be visiting Helsinki in May as a visiting professor hosted by HSSH and professor Katariina Salmela-Aro (Faculty of Educational Sciences).

The workshop is open to University of Helsinki Centre Campus researchers. You can sign up for the workshop via the following link: https://elomake.helsinki.fi/lomakkeet/123395/lomake.html

Please note that the workshop can only accommodate 20 participants. The registration is thus binding, and you should inform the organizers (hssh-mu@helsinki.fi) well in advance if you must cancel your registration so that people on the waiting list can be admitted.


Participants should bring their own laptops with both R and MPlus installed (Mplus free demo version is fine).

Basic understanding of regression modelling is essential, and experience of multilevel modelling is beneficial.


2.6.2023 Workshop: When research gets under the skinDeveloping support mechanisms for the emotional and ethical challenges of sensitive research


Time: Friday 2.6.23 at 10.30-14.30

Location: HSSH (Vuorikatu 3)

Theme: Sensitive research topics could include subjects to do with health and illness, violence and abuse, racism and discrimination, or natural disasters and other crises. Several ethical issues arise when conducting research on sensitive topics. Such research carries the risk of emotional distress for both participants and researchers, as recalling or collecting traumatic experiences may trigger anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress, or vicarious trauma. In some cases, investigating a sensitive topic may also place participants at risk of harm. Furthermore, young researchers might be discouraged from engaging with sensitive or divisive topics due to fear of harassment. 

As of now, the University of Helsinki does not have any protocols in place to ensure the safety of researchers and their emotional well-being. There has been a lack of academic support and inadequate training around this topic, leaving researchers and their supervisors to deal with it on their own. Even the mandatory research ethics course for doctoral researchers does not address handling sensitive data and requesting ethical statements when dealing with vulnerable participants. Young researchers are thus left alone with the stress and anxiety of preparing risk assessment documents, often filled with legal jargon. 

We thus ask: What happens when participants' voices live inside your head? What ethical issues are raised in planning and conducting sensitive research? And what could universities do to better support researchers who engage with sensitive topics? This workshop will offer researchers a safe and supportive environment to reflect on their experiences of dealing with sensitive, distressing, or emotional research data, as well as discuss practical solutions for how academic institutions could tackle this issue. 

Click here for more information including the workshop programme.

Registration: Please register by filling out this e-form.The workshop can accommodate a maximum of 15 participants.


3.5. Guest Lecture with HSSH Visiting Professor Mladen Popović: New Technologies for Studying the Ancient World


Welcome to a guest lecture held by HSSH Visiting Professor Mladen Popović on 3.5.!

9.00-10.00 at Theology Faculty Room, Fabianinkatu 24, 5th floor.

The ERC project was set up to tackle two fundamental problems in the palaeography of the Dead Sea Scrolls: to identify the anonymous scribes and to date manuscripts based on their writing style, as none carries an internal date. These were not only problems of palaeography. Solving these problems has important implications for our ability to better understand the Dead Sea Scrolls as a collection, and also to better understand text production, consumption, and collection practices in ancient Judaea.

In this talk I will focus both on the actual research processes and results for writer identification and date-prediction as well as on the practice of directing interdisciplinary research and a multidisciplinary team, combining artificial intelligence, radiocarbon dating and humanities (history, palaeography, manuscript and text studies).

For more information contact host Jutta Jokiranta jutta.jokiranta@helsinki.


Call for Papers for the 4th Helsinki Conference on Emotions, Populism and Polarization (HEPP4)


In the recent years, HEPPsters have been engaging in themes of populist mobilisation in Central and Eastern Europe, particularly the relationship between time and space, and how this relationship informs the construction of ‘Us’. In the previous edition, HEPP3 paid special attention to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In 2023, this theme is expanded to reflect on the rise of ethno-nationalism. We are here also drawing on our Horizon2020 project on Deradicalisation in Europe and beyond, where the key thematic is social exclusion as the driver for violent radicalisation, emergence of grievance, alienation, and polarisation. We also want to investigate the emergence of religious populism, the formation of epistemic communities, and logics of datafied forms of communication that also deal with polarisation. We hope to incite theoretical and empirical discussions of these themes and more.

The Conference strives to assemble a wide range of international researchers at all career stages, with the aim of examining populism, particularly from a discursive and cultural approach. We welcome contributions from a wide range of fields. All submitted papers will be considered for our Working Papers series.

The fourth edition of the Helsinki Conference on Emotions, Populism, and Polarisation (HEPP4) will be held on 11-13th of December 2023 at the University of Helsinki. The Call for Papers and Proposals is open until 2nd of May 2023.

A special symposium day will be held at the University of Lapland on 14th of December 2023.

Please send in your paper submissions through this form by the 2nd May 2023. The submission must include your name and institution, a title, a 100-150 word abstract, and five keywords. Please send your panel proposals through this form by the 2nd of May 2023.

Follow HEPP on the main webpage here, Facebook here, Twitter here, and Instagram here.

You can reach the HEPP4 team and the conference secretary via hepp@helsinki.fi.


6.-7.6.2023 HelsinkiNode Symposium on network analysis methods


HelsinkiNode is a symposium and bi-monthly online seminar series funded by the Helsinki Institute for Social Sciences and Humanities (HSSH). HelsinkiNode promotes and enhances the use of network analysis in research on teaching and learning bringing together professionals from different disciplines to build new collaborations and initiate research applying network analysis.

The two-day symposium will be held at the Faculty of Educational Sciences, University of Helsinki on 6.-7.6. 2023. The symposium will have invited speakers with expertise in network analysis and presentations showcasing educational research applying network analysis by researchers from the University of Helsinki and from other universities in Finland and in the Nordic and the Baltic countries. Additionally, there will be a panel discussion with experts and questions from the participants.

We invite researchers to present their work in network analysis. Deadline for abstracts is 30.4.2023.

The symposium will start discussions on applying networks and to the practical and theoretical issues regarding network analysis in educational research. One such key issue is how to connect educational theories and network analysis methodologies in a meaningful way.

Following the HelsinkiNode symposium we invite proposals for a special issue of Nordic Studies in Education focusing on Network Analysis Methods in Research on Teaching and Learning.  Both theoretical and empirical research is welcome. The topics of the papers could be from, but not limited to the topics of the symposium.

More information about the special issue and the online seminar series will be published on the symposium website after the event.

For more information contact Kalle Juuti or Miikka Turkkila (email: firstname.lastname[at]helsinki.fi).

Join the HSSH Friends and re­ceive the news­let­ter to your email!

You will find the instructions for joining HSSH Friends here.