Figure: Arttu Paarlahti

RELATE, Academy of Finland, Centre of Excellence, research group on changing state spaces 2014-2019.

This project is funded by the Academy of Finland and brings together geographers in three Finnish universities: Oulu, Tampere and Helsinki. Our team at the Helsinki University interrogates spatial transformation of states, cities and supranational political entities. We are interested in the ways in which states and cities are currently being transnationalized, and how this transformation takes place through the inherited “national” welfare state structures. Empirically, we focus in particular on ‘statist’ social practices of spatial planning, regional development, education and the co called knowledge-based economy. The team has contributed to the coming together of the ‘networked’ and the ‘territorial’ in the social practices constitutive of state spaces and supranational polities such as the European Union.

Scholarly work in the research team has clustered around four empirical focus areas: spatial dynamics of the knowledge-based economy, the European spatial planning system, statist practices of health care systems, and the practices of local government and co-operation in north European border regions. The team continues to develop these areas of interest with an explicit goal to contribute to the scholarly and public debates concerned with the geopolitical dynamics of the contemporary condition in general and the changing geographical forms of the city, state and the EU in particular.

IMAJINE – Integrative Mechanisms for Addressing Spatial Justice and Territorial Inequalities in Europe

IMAJINE (Integrative Mechanisms for Addressing Spatial Justice and Territorial Inequalities in Europe) is a new Horizon 2020 project starting in January 2017. With a budget of just under €5 million and a five year timescale, IMAJINE is one of the largest social science grants to have been awarded in Horizon 2020 or its predecessor Framework Programmes.

The core aim of IMAJINE is to formulate new integrative policy mechanisms to enable European, national and regional government agencies to more effectively address territorial inequalities within the European Union, and to imagine a future for European regions in which the distribution of resources is consistent with principles of social and spatial justice.

Territorial cohesion is a guiding principle for EU policy, alongside social cohesion and economic cohesion, yet in recent years territorial inequalities within the EU have widened as the post-2008 economic crisis and adoption of austerity policies have had an uneven geographical impact. There is, accordingly, a pressing need to re-appraise the appropriateness and efficacy of existing policy instruments for tackling territorial inequalities, and to consider and develop alternative mechanisms. In order to achieve this aim, IMAJINE will adopt a multi-disciplinary approach that combines qualitative and quantitative data and macro-scale analysis and case study research, involving economists, geographers, political scientists, psychologists and sociologists.

The work programme of the IMAJINE will be delivered through ten work packages of which the University of Helsinki is leading the WP 1 (Conceptual and Policy Review). In this WP our research team in Helsinki uses interviews and document analysis to outline the development and conceptualisation of ‘Spatial Justice’ and ‘Territorial Inequality’ in EU policy.

The multifaceted relationship between municipalities and universities, 2016-2017

This project is funded by Kunnallisalan kehittämisssäätiö. In this project we examine the complex relationship between municipalities and universities in the contemporary political-economic setting. More specifically, we focus on this relationship in three Finnish cities (Vaasa, Jyväskylä and Oulu). The central idea of the project is to provide new scholarly insights on the local role of universities in a political context which highlights the importance of internationalization of both education and research.

More information: Professor of Spatial planning and policy, Sami Moisio