Officially established in January 2018, the institute gathers together the core expertise from the University of Helsinki in collaboration with other universities and research institutes in the Helsinki area. It also includes non-academic stakeholders in order to contribute to sustainability transformations in society.
The complexity of and urgency to solve the global grand challenges, climate change, loss of biodiversity, poverty, and urbanization are broadly recognized. Consequently, there is a call for a transition or rather, a transformation in all spheres of life requiring changes in technologies, values, behavior and governance. There is a call for universities and research institutions to take action to manage these complex problems not only by the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) but also by the European Council as well as many European and global research programmes such as the Global Sustainable Development Report 2015.
HELSUS is a joint action unit of nine faculties
HELSUS is an interdisciplinary sustainability science community. As an internationally recognized centre it enables and empowers societies to transform towards sustainability.
to contribute to sustainability transformations of the societies by means of inter- and transdisciplinary research and education. This will be carried out by increasing understanding of conditions, limits and processes of sustainability transformations and by producing transformative knowledge for national and international policy decision-making, private sector and civil society.
HELSUS Director is a professor from the University of Helsinki and appointed by the rector. Docent Susanna Lehvävirta started as the Director of HELSUS January 2022. The director is responsible for the development of the institute and enhancing the research and education in sustainability science in collaboration with stakeholders.
Susanna Lehvävirta’s background is in plant ecology, but during her career she has developed a more holistic understanding and a way of thinking, which is demonstrated in her research on a wide range of topics, including ecology, environmental aesthetics, user perspectives, recreational psychology, jurisprudential perspectives, life cycle analyses, economy, geography and philosophy.
– To translate research results into practical solutions, multidisciplinary research approach is often needed. I’m as comfortable with theoretical and empirical thinking as I am with qualitative and quantitative methods. This of course doesn’t mean that I’m an expert with everything, but I try to combine things and raise questions that help to focus on the right things, Lehvävirta says.
For Lehvävirta, it is also extremely important to translate scientific findings into solutions for the society and people’s everyday lives.
Also responsible for the activities of HELSUS are the steering group and the advisory board. Steering group plans and decides about the plans on HELSUS activities and use of funds. The advisory board streamlines and plans the activities of HELSUS together with the steering group.
HELSUS Steering group will enhance the research, education and social interaction in the field of sustainability science at the University of Helsinki but also nationally and internationally. Steering group supports the director in leading the institute.
HELSUS advisory board has both international scientific members and national members outside of academia and it streamlines and plans the activities of HELSUS together with the steering group.
Assoc. Prof. David Mungai, University of Nairobi
HELSUS Research coordinators are responsible for overall coordination of the research within HELSUS, developing new initiatives and launching new research projects. Educational coordinator is responsible of promoting, coordinating and conducting sustainability and environmental teaching both for degree students and for academic staff and self-motivated learners. They also contribute to the sustainability research within HELSUS, and the sustainability work done within the University. The coordinators work closely together with the HELSUS Director and are supported by a trainee.
Dr. Janna Pietikäinen
Tel: +358 294 158 125