Hannele Niemi, Ph.D, is Professor, Research Director at the Faculty of Educational Sciences, University of Helsinki
Unesco Chair Hannele Niemi
Hannele Niemi has been Vice Rector for academic affairs at the University of Helsinki (2003–2008, 2008–2009), Dean of the Faculty of Education (2001–2003), Head of the Department of Education and Vice-Dean at the University of Helsinki (1998–2000). She has been Professor of Education in Teacher Education Departments of Oulu, Turku and Tampere Universities in Finland (1987–1998) and a Visiting Professor at Michigan State University (1989, 6 months) and a Visiting Scholar at Stanford University 2010, 2013, and 2016 (total 7 months).
She has been invited as a Doctor or Professor Honoris Causa: University of Bucharest, Romania, 2010; J.C. Koh Professorship Nayang Technological University, Singapore, 2010, University of Lapland, 2012; National Defense University, Finland 2013. She has been selected as the most influential person in education in 2013 by the Finnish Teacher Union and invited as a member on Finnish Academy of Science and Letters in Academia Scientiarum Fennica 2004.
Hannele Niemi has been a scientific leader of big national research projects in Finland e.g. Finnable 2020 for advancing educational technology and 21st century skills in schools (2012–2015) and a Director of the national research program "Life as Learning", Academy of Finland (2002–2006). She has been and a member of the Steering Committee of the British national research programme (TLRP, Teaching and Learning Research Programme (2003–2008). She is an advisor or a reviewer in many scientific journals.
She has worked as a reviewer in research councils of many countries, e.g. Norway, Portugal, Estonia, Singapore and as had many memberships in scientific councils, e.g. the European Science Foundation, the Academy of Finland and the University of Helsinki. He has been invited as a panel member or Chair of the research evaluation of educational sciences at the University of Gothenburg (2010–2011) and University of Jyväskylä (2006). She has been a member of the Finnish Higher Education Evaluation Council (2004–2007, 2008–2009), Chair of the Follow-Up of Doctoral Education in Finland, Finnish Higher Education Council (2011), Chair of Finnish Education Evaluation Council 2012–2014. She has been invited as an expert and steering committee member of Institutional Evaluation Programme, European University Association and she has been invited as a panel member for the evaluations of the quality and effectiveness of 8 universities in Europe (2005–2015).
She has contributed in many EU and OECD projects as an expert or researcher and served as a keynote lecturer in several international forums, e.g. in Singapore, Thailand, China, Malaysia, U.S.A, Saudi-Arabia, Hungary, Slovenia, Spain, Portugal, German, Norway, Sweden, Scotland, England, France and Estonia. Her main research interest areas are teachers’ professional development, quality of teacher education, moral education and technology-based learning environments. She has published several articles and books on education in Finland and Finnish teacher education (e.g. Finnish Innovations and Technologies in Schools. Towards New Ecosystems of Learning, 2014; The Miracle of Education: The Principles and Practices of Teaching and Learning In Finnish Schools, 2012; Research-Based Teacher Education in Finland, 2006, and Education as a Societal Contributor 2007) and contributed in many international education research publications. She has published in more than ten languages.
She has over 30 peer reviewed international journal articles, more than 100 peer reviewed chapters in international books, 17 monographs or edited books, and more than 100 articles in Finnish.
Professor Niemi has graduated as Master of Philosophy 1974, Master of Theology 1977, and Doctor of Philosophy 1978 at the University of Helsinki.
Professor Niemi’s UNESCO Chair is promoting Educational Ecosystems for Equity and Quality of Learning
The most important features of ecosystems are
- the interconnectedness of their constituents
- the information flows throughout the system
We have learned from earlier studies that the system functions well when its different parts work together.
However, in reality, ecosystems can have serious dysfunctions and imbalances, and this is a reality in educational ecosystems as well. For example, partners and actors may not be connected, or they may not share information, resources, or aims. Furthermore, hierarchy and a lack of communication can cause ineffectiveness in education, resulting in subsystems that are separated into segmented territories, each of which has its own aims, social practices, and power structures.
While the ecosystem metaphor is a useful tool for understanding and predicting the conditions that shape and influence systems, it is important to consider that biological ecosystems are not communal, and they are therefore not supported by conscious commitments to serve a greater common good. In contrast, to be effective, human organizations and systems are based on human actions, strategic aims, and commitments.
Especially in education, human actors must anticipate the future and create conditions that have an impact beyond the present setting.
To this end, educational actors must work together to design and re-design and create systems that lead to lifelong learning and high-quality education for all. This is a key mission of education.
The project aims to promote Macro system-wide frameworks that support equity and quality learning in different contexts. For example, educational processes, such as curriculum development, education quality assurance, strategies for lifelong learning, and teacher education systems, should be interconnected and work jointly toward common goals.
As an important aspect of societies’ welfare, education must also be connected to other sectors of society, particularly health care systems and labor market, to ensure sustainable paths for different learners.
Educational ecosystems also have meso- or mid-level units that consist of institutional- or community-level structures and social practices (e.g., at schools, universities, and other higher education institutions). At this level, a cooperative sharing culture is a basic condition for inclusive and quality education. In education, micro-level ecosystem units also exist. For example, as individuals learn and create knowledge, they are influenced by their personal characteristics and cultural backgrounds. However, their learning is also dependent on system-level factors and the institutional teaching and learning culture.
By promoting the concept of a multilevel educational ecosystem, this project demonstrates its commitment to supporting the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its effort to universally eliminate poverty. The Education 2030 Framework for Action provides a concrete tool for achieving these aims.