HELSUS Sustainability Discussion Group

The HELSUS Sustainability Discussion Group (SDG) is a monthly meeting for bringing together HELSUS PhDs and Postdocs (as well as others working in sustainability fields).

The purpose of the SDG is for HELSUS members to get to know each other, discuss big and emerging ideas in sustainability science, and work toward better research outcomes and community. Read the Helsus news article about the Sustainability Discussion Group and Rachel Mazac, who launched the group.

The topics for upcoming SDGs are decided on rolling basis by interested parties at previous meetings. The SDG is held the last Tuesday of each month from 10:30-12:00 at HELSUS hub and on Zoom (finally a hybrid event!).

What is needed of participants? Just show up with an open mind and interest in engaging discussions. We will rely on our collective, previous knowledge and critical minds to ground our discussion. No advance registration is needed.


For the give-me-more-infor­mation-folks

Goal #1: SDG can serve as a space for HELSUS PhDs and Postdocs (as well as others working in sustainability fields) to get to know each other and share critical discussion of big/complex/controversial concepts in sustainability science. 

Benefits/skills gained: critical thinking, debate and discourse practice, social networking, mental health/peer well-being support

Goal #2: SDG can provide a forum for young researchers to workshop ideas and drafts of papers before they submit to larger audiences (i.e. courses, supervisors, journals, etc.). 

Benefits/skills gained: public speaking, academic writing, article editing, constructive feedback

Goal #3: SDG can help young HELSUS researchers to collaborate on and record emerging conversations in sustainability science geared towards a publication akin to the work done by the members of the Stockholm Resilience Centre

Benefits/skills gained: Collaborative work, concept and field development, practice synthesizing ideas and distillation of narrative in long-term discussions, multi-author/perspective publication situated in HELSUS strategy

Want to know more? If you have any further questions please contact Rachel Mazac (rachel.mazac@helsinki.fi)! 

The theme for Autumn 2022 is Sensing, Observing, Measuring, and Experimenting with/in Sustainability

Welcome back to the HELSUS Sustainability Discussion Group (SDGs) for Autumn 2022! The SDGs are a monthly informal discussion held for HELSUS members to connect on broad topics related to sustainability science and share collective knowledge. There is no preparation required, come with your knowledge and readiness to dive into engaging discussions and new topics in sustainability. This year, the events will be more casual, afterwork meet ups; feel free to bring  a snack or beverage to share or come as you are!

The SDGs will be held on the last Thursday of each month from 16:00-17:00 in the HELSUS Hub, Library room 228; they will be initially hybrid to increase accessibility (find Zoom link below). We have an overarching theme for the Autumn SDGs; the topic of each discussion will flow from the previous one at the direction of the members present. 

Zoom Link: https://helsinki.zoom.us/j/67063258027?pwd=QXhQeEZnQy9UR1NzNkRKVlJZMDdBZz09

Passcode: 055649

29 September: Getting a sense for where we are and where we want to go? A listening session for member input

27 October: Getting a sense of sufficiency: How to measure when enough is enough

24 November: The role of science and technology studies (STS) and post-humanist research approaches in sustainability science: A critical discussion

The discussion will be based on this short and easy article (Pickering 2005) that clarifies the differences in critical STS/post-humanist approaches compared to the social sciences and natural/life sciences that comprise the field of sustainability science. The discussion will consider the advantages of post-human approaches compared with others, the paradigm shift that's required for their implementation, and the challenges posed to natural and social sciences in doing so. Fresh baked cookies will be served for in-person attendees.

This autumn we will focus on a series of discussions with experts and HELSUS members, engaging in critical questions of how justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion fit within sustainability practice, research, and philosophy.

What: HELSUS Sustainability Discussion Group (SDG)

When: Tuesday, October 26th, 10:30-12:00

Where: HELSUS Hub Lounge (2nd floor of Porthania) & Zoom (Finally a hybrid event!)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 670 6325 8027

Passcode: 055649

This time we are finally having an opportunity to meet up physically at HELSUS Hub Lounge! The event is a hybrid event, which means that here is a possibility to join via Zoom, too.

We will continue with the topic of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion from partners outside of academia. Zestii Oy is joining us bringing a perspective of a newly starting food service company.

Zestii Oy a food service with sustainability, social inclusion and inspiration for future of work at our core value. Zestii Oy tries to design their operation as environmentally sustainable as possible. What makes Zestii Oy unique is that they do not have a central kitchen, and instead they engage with individuals at home, who are good at cooking, and help then turn their cooking skills into micro food entrepreneurship. Zestii Oy provides training and guidance to enable workers to safely, legally and hygienically operate from home. They also create sales opportunities and do marketing.

Besides contributing the discussion, Zestii Oy will serve some food in the event!



Tuesday, September 28th, 10:30-12:00

In autumn’s first SDG meeting, Nira Johri who is working at global food company as Director of Global Diversity & Sustainability, will introduce us her work and the topics she is working on. Here are some questions that you can think of in advance.

  1. Where do you see the great opportunities for justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion in sustainability?
  2. Where are the greatest tension points / what will be harder to find convergence on?
  3. What gives you hope / what do you fear as you look to 2030 sustainability goals? 

Nira Johri is the Director, Global Diversity & Sustainability for Rich Products Corporation, a $4B global food business, where she leads the enterprise strategy for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) and Sustainability. During her time at Rich’s, she created and met time-bound goals for both DEI and Sustainability and established senior-level governance mechanisms to ensure integration of both topics into business strategy. Prior to Rich’s, Nira spent five years building the cocoa industry’s collective sustainability strategy, CocoaAction. Nira previously worked for Unilever and served in the Obama administration.

Throughout her career, she has been a passionate supporter of the development of women leaders.  She is the founder of ‘Women in Policy,’ an affinity group focused on fostering professional development among women at the Pentagon.  Nira established the first-ever gender conference on cocoa, bringing together over 100 stakeholders across Africa. She is also a Board Member of the Western New York Sustainable Business Roundtable and an Impact Fellow with the Sustainable Food Lab.  She holds an MBA from the University of Cambridge and a BS in Marketing & BA in Government & Politics from the University of Maryland.  

For the too-long-don't-read-folks

What: Sustainability Discussion Group for bringing together HELSUS PhDs and Postdocs to get to know each other, discuss big and emerging ideas in sustainability science and work toward better research outcomes and community. 

When: Last Tuesday of each month from 10-11

Where: Due to the COVID-19 situation the discussion group will be via Zoom.

Join the meeting via this Zoom link (passcode: 055649)

Top­ics dur­ing the spring 2021

Each topic set by interested parties at previous meetings.

June 2nd: Us­ing your priv­ilege as a way to sup­port sustainability and not per­petu­ate sys­temic in­equit­ies 

April 27th: Cli-fi: cre­at­ive cli­mate fic­tions to com­bat fu­ture cli­mate dysto­pias and reas­ons to stay hope­ful

If you have some ideas of types of climate-fiction (both dystopic and/or utopic) please share them in HELSUS-members discussion group on Teams. We would love to curate a list of books, films, poems, short stories, etc. that we can all turn to for some much-needed hope! 


March 30th: What are the most im­port­ant top­ics in sustainability science right now? 

What is needed of you: Just show up with an open mind and interest in engaging discussions. We will rely on our collective, previous knowledge and critical minds to ground our discussion.

Rolling collection of the links shared and discussion topics