UNESCO Chair Arto Kallioniemi

Arto Kallioniemi is currently working as a Professor and Vice Dean of International affairs, Societal Interaction and Equality at the Faculty of Educational Sciences. Arto's background is in religious didactics. Read more about Arto Kallioniemi's academic profile.

What made you apply for the UNESCO Professorship in the first place?

I’m very interested in global and international affairs and human rights. I’ve been an active member or Greenpeace and Amnesty while I was young so these types of things have been close to my heart already for a long time now. I still work very closely with some organizations such as UNICEF and The Finnish  League for Human Rights. I see the global aspects of our teacher education really important since we train many types of teachers and they may be working all over the world. I’m also really interested in the aspect of values, morals and ethics in education and that’s what the UNESCO Chair Values, dialogue and human rights aims to promote. I see humanitarian values, justice and equality as something that should underline our education and as UNESCO Professor, I aim to promote them.

The part about values in the UNESCO chair comes from my background as a professor of didactics in religion. I am interested in the dialogue between different worldviews and one way of promoting that been has been a URI (United Religions Initiative) club where people from different backgrounds come together. 

For a long time, we were the only university in Finland that didn’t have UNESCO Chair until I and Hannele Niemi decided to apply for them. If all goes well I may be able to renew the professorship.

As an UNESCO Professor, is any of the SDG's specifically close to your heart?

Definitely education. We have a learning crisis in the world and we are trying to alleviate it, for example, by promoting girls' education. Africa is one of our biggest focus areas and I've also traveled to South Africa, Mosambqiue and Kenya where we aim to develop training programs for teachers. At the moment we also have one international funding application with the Finn Church Aid so we are rather active with these types of things. I guess I could say I want to change the world for the better. 

What has been the most memorable thing about the Professorship so far?

I have to say the visit to Maputo, Mozambique where I realized how important education really is. The people in Mozambique are truly wonderful. Another memorable thing was a visit to a slum in Johannesburg. I and our Dean were told not to go there but we did it anyway. 

What are your main goals you hope to achieve by this UNESCO-Professorship?

I want to make our students aware of the important international affairs and how important the international solidarity work is in building a better and happier world. 

The UNESCO Chair works along the lines of the “Education 2030 Incheon Declaration”, which is part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The critical important Five Ps: People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace and Partnership are central to the Chair’s action: calling people to work and co-operate together, we can build a planet where prosperity is democratically divided, peace is part of mutual understanding, and respect and partnership are based on respecting human rights and an understanding of the main ideas of sustainable development. The Chair promotes lifelong learning in educating teachers in the field of values, dialogue and human rights. All planned activities in this project fosters creativity and knowledge and increase multiliteracy. Furthermore, the activities develop future teachers’ skills, values and attitudes that enable them to lead healthy and fulfilled lives. The aim is to educate the next generation so that they feel themselves to be global citizens.  The project builds and fosters education facilities that are learner- and gender-sensitive and creates safe, non-violent and effective learning environments for all. The specific focus of the planned project are values, dialogue and human rights in education. These components make ethical principles and values visible. Perspective dialogue between different people is one of the key ways to build societies which are safe and non-violent environments. In addition to human rights and understanding these rights there is the fundamental question of fulfilling the ideas and principles presented in the “Education 2030 Incheon Declaration”.

The project also fully fits the UNESCO’s SDG for Social and Human Sciences in many ways. Developing intercultural competences is a vital task of the Chair in Values, Dialogue and Human Rights in Education. The Chair encourages dialogue and cooperation, strengthened cultural literacy, and shows how new understandings between people can be built. This understanding will be based on e.g. shared values, mutual understanding and respect. The Chair promotes a culture of peace by teaching and researching intercultural and worldview dialogue and encountering young people and students to build communities, which share values and practices of mutual respect and tolerance, and seek peace, non-violence and reconciliation in society.  The Chair also actively encourages an understanding of human rights and the culture of human rights among young university students.