Spot the Researcher!

The Thinkfest urban festival of science and the Global Helsinki science theme will put researchers in unexpected places.

At Thinkfest you may run into University of Helsinki researchers in unusual settings.

Open to all, Thinkfest will be taking place in Helsinki from 31 August to 5 September. Dozens of University researchers can be met at the mall, on the metro, in a rock club or in saunas, talking about topics ranging from global challenges to health issues and from the changing work environment to Jesus as a communications theoretician.

Urban geographer Mats Stjernberg is one of the festival speakers. He is happy to leave the research den to share his knowledge.

“Events like Thinkfest allow us researchers to meet a whole new audience and provide them with food for thought,” says Stjernberg. “Many researchers have knowledge that could benefit, say, discussions on social issues.”

“What we researchers must remember, of course, is to talk about our results without academic jargon.”

Mall discussion on welfare differences

Stjernberg and his colleague Venla Bernelius will discuss welfare differences in different parts of Helsinki. Their talk will be staged in the middle of the Kamppi shopping centre.

"Before the recession of the 1990s, welfare differences were still small in Helsinki."

Says Stjernberg: “The socioeconomic differences between districts in Helsinki have soared in the past twenty years, as shown by the variation in unemployment rates and income levels around the city.”

“Before the recession of the 1990s, welfare differences were still small in Helsinki,” he continues. “But now, cumulative poverty may give rise to social problems, while increasing inequality may lead to a general lack of empathy.”

“This does not bode well for the idea of “taking care of everyone” that our welfare society is built on.”

Researchers hop on the metro

Sirpa Tani, Professor of Geography and Environmental Education, will be taking the metro for a Global Helsinki ride. Tani, who has studied the leisure activities of young people, finds the idea of the metro appealing.

“The metro is an important and flexible means of transportation between different parts of the city,” she explains. “It makes it easier for young people to move outside their neighbourhood in their free time. Many use the metro to go and meet friends in Itäkeskus and Kamppi.”

"Kamppi shopping centre deserves special thanks for its youth policy."

Tani is interested in the use of public urban spaces. Who has the right to use such spaces and what are the limits of tolerance?

“Talking about the use of public spaces, Helsinki has become increasingly flexible and laid-back in recent years,” says Tani. “That’s good news.”

“I’m really glad that you can arrange events like the Restaurant Day, which make use of public spaces, in Helsinki nowadays.”

In Tani’s opinion, the Kamppi shopping centre deserves special thanks for its youth policy.

“The management treats teens hanging out at the centre exceptionally well. It believes that young people have every right to spend time around the mall. The management has also collaborated with youngsters to create certain rules of behaviour for the mall.”

The Thinkfest programme

The Global Helsinki metro rides and other programme