The international research team of the Child in Time project consists of four experienced researchers and three doctoral researchers.
Arniika Kuusisto

Arniika Kuusisto is the head of the Child in Time research project. Kuusisto works as a professor in early childhood education at the University of Helsinki (2022-), in addition to being appointed an honorary fellow at the Faculty of Education at the University of Oxford. Kuusisto holds a Ph.D. in philosophy and is an docent in education.

Kuusisto's research focuses on the development of values and worldviews during childhood and adolescence, as well as the significance of individual agency and the growth environment in the developmental process. Her earlier research project, (2018–2023 / Academy of Finland), conducted in collaboration with the universities of Helsinki, Oxford, Stockholm, Drexel (USA), and Åbo Akademi, titled "Growing Up Radical? The role of educational institutions in guiding young people's worldview construction", has generated research findings related to the values of Finnish youth and the prevention of extremist thinking in schools. Kuusisto has also examined the values, worldviews, and perspectives of young children in early childhood education and the formation of their worldviews, often using technology-assisted autobiographical methods, also funded by the Academy of Finland. Kuusisto has also researched cultural and ideological diversity in Finnish early childhood education and schools (Encountering Diversity in Education, EDEN), as well as questions related to teacher professionalism and teacher education associated with these issues.

Liam Gearon

Liam Francis Gearon is Senior Research Fellow at Harris Manchester College and Associate Professor in the Department of Education, University of Oxford. A Docent of the University of Helsinki, Finland, and Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the University of Birmingham, he is also concurrently Visiting Professor at Mary Immaculate College, Limerick, Ireland and Extraordinary Professor at North-West University, South Africa. As Principal Investigator, Gearon has led funded research projects with the Academy of Finland, the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the British Academy, among others. The author or editor of over forty books, including a major educational series for Macmillan Caribbean, Gearon has worked on postcolonial theory for over two decades, from foundational work for his published doctorate in English literature (Landscapes of Encounter, University of Calgary Press, 2002) through major early contributions to postcolonial theory and religious education in the early 2000s. Most recently Gearon was lead editor for a critically acclaimed special issue of the British Journal of Religious Education on decolonising the curriculum (Gearon, Kuusisto, Matemba, Benjamin, Du Preez, Koirikivi, and Simmonds, 2021). In addition, he has undertaken much work in recent years at the interface of the Academy with the UK and US security and intelligence agencies, evidenced in Liam Gearon (ed., 2019) The Routledge International Handbook of Universities, Security and Intelligence Studies.

Jonna Kangas

Jonna Kangas is a Docent and Ph.D. in Education. She is a University Lecturer and joint research member at Playful Learning Center, Faculty of Education Science, University of Helsinki. Her research focus is on play-based learning and pedagogy in early childhood education. She aims to understand learning processes through joy and participation in children's learning and teachers' professional development. In her research, she has previously focused on critical analyses of education policies, teachers' values, and competencies of ECEC educators. She uses her findings to design innovative teacher training and mentoring programs in Finland and developing countries. She is a director of the blended teacher training program at the University of Helsinki.

Saila Poulter

Saila Poulter, PhD, Docent, University Researcher, Faculty of Educational Sciences, University of Helsinki. Her research interests include religious and worldview education, teacher professionalism and intercultural education. At present, she focuses on children’s grief and diversity of worldviews in early childhood education and care. Among her recent co-edited publications is “Religion and Worldviews in Education: The New Watershed” (Gearon, Kuusisto, Poulter, Toom & Ubani, Eds., 2023) by Routledge.

Lari Launonen

Lari Launonen is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Helsinki. He specializes in philosophy of religion, and much of his research has focused on the philosophical implications of cognitive science of religion. In the Child in Time -project he explores the relationship of meaning in life and religion among small children. Launonen was previously a participant of the Academy of Finland's Centre of Excellence in Reason and Religious Recognition. He is Communications Editor of a new journal AGATHEOS: European Journal for Philosophy of Religion. Launonen is also a Fulbright Grantee and will spend the spring 2025 as a visiting researcher at Rutgers University (New Jersey, USA). His autobiographical memoir Poikani, elä vielä ensi talvi: Lyhyen elämän filosofia [Son, Live Through Another Winter: A Philosophy of a Short Life] (Otava 2024) popularizes philosophical debates on procreation, disability, suffering, and grief and considers their connection to religious belief.

Katja Castillo

Katja Castillo, M.Ed., is finalising her doctoral dissertation at the university of Oulu. Castillo's research in philosophy of education has focused on the concept of calling into question in Emmanuel Levinas' philosophy. Castillo looks at the ethics of teaching and the pedagogical relationship as a calling into question, as a process that challenges both the teacher and the student to change. In addition to her theoretical expertice, Castillo bring to CiTe -research project her knowledge on children's worldviews. Castillo is interested in children's meaningful life questions and in the adults' sensibility to recognise children's existential life questions. Castillo's research input on the field of Early Childhood education has investigated the educational purpose and the layers of meaning given to worldview education.

Lassi Lavanti

Lassi Lavanti, M. Ed., is a PhD researcher at the Faculty of Education, University of Helsinki. His dissertation research explores how families with an immigrant background could be supported in early childhood education and care to improve their socially sustainable well-being. Lavanti's work in this area is inspired by his educational background in teaching both class and social justice.

Also, Lavanti is employed as a university teacher at the University of Jyväskylä in the Kokkola University Consortium in the Faculty of Education. Lavanti teaches future classroom teachers on various topics, including media education and supervises internships focusing on diverse cultural, linguistic and worldview backgrounds.

Katri Pardon

Katri Pardon, M.Sc.(Econ), is a doctoral researcher in Educational Sciences at the University of Helsinki. Her research interests lie in studying the strength-based approach of positive psychology as a part of the Finnish early childhood education. Pardon's interdisciplinary background, combined with more than ten years of experience in business life, bring their own, practical nuances to her research. Pardon uses a pragmatic and multi-method research approach in the form of empirical surveys and interviews.

Roosa Segersvärd

Roosa Segersvärd, M. Ed., is a doctoral researcher in Educational Sciences at the University of Helsinki. Her dissertation deals with perspectives in disability studies, with a special interest in social justice, inclusive pedagogy and experiences of inclusion in early childhood education for children with multiple disabilities. 

Segersvärd’s educational background is focused on special education, which brings its own practical perspective to her research.