Paula Schönach chosen as the new senior advisor on Sustainable Development at Aalto University

HELSUS Research Coordinator Paula Schönach is taking the next step on her career as she is starting at a new position at Aalto University.

Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science was established in January 2018. In the last two years the whole sustainability conversation has increased enormously as the global challenges have reached a new level of awareness in politics and media. A new young generation of activists like Greta Thunberg have been highlighting environmental issues and the need for governmental action. Sustainability institutes like HELSUS are a key way to raise the awareness on sustainability research and education within the Universities and more widely in society.

The long-time HELSUS Research Coordinator Paula Schönach is taking a next step on her career as she is starting a new job as a Senior advisor for sustainable development at Aalto Sustainability Hub. Paula has had an indelible impact on the development of HELSUS, as she has been responsible of the coordination related to the adaptation of HELSUS. She has been working at the university for almost 20 years. 

What has been the most rewarding during last two years at HELSUS? "It has been extremely interesting to be part of building up this kind of unique community of talented people with a shared commitment to sustainability. What could be more rewarding? As the research coordinator is some kind of a central node in the working of a network, I have had the privilege to get to know many great people and their research. It’s a premium spot to widen one’s own perspective to sustainability research and all the different possible approaches to sustainability. Although contacts and collaborations will remain strong, I will miss the daily encounters with these great people and the conversations I have had with them."

What greetings or advice does Paula have for her follower? "I feel that after the ‘starting phase’ of HELSUS, the functioning and working of HELSUS has now stabilized and HELSUS is an established network within the University of Helsinki. This change is a good opportunity for the HELSUS coordination to reflect on the past two years. The new coordinator should be inherently part of this and there’s a great opportunity to bring in some fresh ideas about how to proceed towards realizing the new strategy."

However even after Paula has left HELSUS the collaboration between universities continues: HELSUS and Aalto Sustainability Hub are arranging together an annual Sustainability Science Days (SSD) and Paula will be involved in this process from the Aalto perspective. 2020 Sustainability Science Days has been cancelled due to the corona virus but parties aim to organize it in May 2021.

Is the collaboration a way to tackle the climate change? "I believe that at the University of Helsinki and Aalto University there’s a mutual understanding that sustainability is in the core of the Universities’ mission, and that work in that area needs to be done together. Thus, I see apart from a continuation of the existing collaborations within the two Universities, also great opportunities for further intensifying the modes and areas of collaboration in the future. Exchange between the two Universities with their complementing areas of expertise is definitely an opportunity to strengthen the ties and mutually benefit from them also in the future."

We wish the very best for Paula in her new adventure and wish a productive collaboration with Aalto in the future!

Recruitment process of the follower is ongoing. Please notice that before our new coordinator starts we try to cover for Paula the best we can!