What are your research topics?
I investigate how children construct their worldviews, learn values and experience the meaningfulness of life. In addition, I study children’s resources and existential resilience when they feel their existence or safety is under threat.
Pandemics, wars and the climate crisis, among others, can cause anxiety in children and put their existential resilience to the test. Little is known about the values, worldviews and resilience of the youngest children.
Where and how does the topic of your research have an impact?
As a researcher in Education and a Teacher Educator, I am also interested in how to make the best use of research-based knowledge in early childhood education and teacher training.
In a research project funded by the Academy of Finland, we are investigating how to prevent radicalisation in school and how to support the construction of young people’s worldviews as well as their wellbeing. "On the basis of our research, members of our research team have written parts of the national strategy on this topic as well as a guidebook for teachers. Also one of my previous projects resulted in publication of material intended as a practical tool for early childhood education teachers.
Educational research often strives to produce knowledge that can be utilised to change the world, for example, to improve the preconditions for learning. Within the framework of social sustainability, research-based knowledge enables establishing a future with a long-term view of the wellbeing of both people and the environment as well as the promotion of human rights and a socially, environmentally, and economically sustainable lifestyle.
What is particularly inspiring in your field right now?
In addition to my work at the University of Helsinki, I am an honorary research fellow at the University of Oxford. With my Oxford colleague Liam Gearon, I am currently editing a handbook for which top expert from around the world have written articles on the intersections between education and religion. Reading manuscripts and finalising the project is really inspiring!
Arniika Kuusisto is the Professor of Early Childhood Education at the Faculty of Educational Sciences.