Spring greetings from the AGORA research centre

The academic year 2021-2022 is coming to an end and this year has again been exceptional for everyone. Our AGORA research centre wishes to warmly thank everyone, especially our wonderful colleagues all around the world, and to share the highlights of this eventful year of AGORA. 

AGORA community 

Our prestigious international community has had the pleasure to welcome new members throughout the year. One of our newest AGORA community members is Anni Hirsaho, who got admitted to the University of Helsinki (UH) Doctoral School on School, Society, Education and Culture (SEDUCE). Her acute PhD research focuses on the dynamic of therapeutic governance in school psychologists’ work in upper secondary education. In addition, our CRISP (Critical sociology and philosophy in education) -research seminar, coordinated by Dr. Helena Hinke Dobrochinski Candido, has welcomed scholars from several countries and universities. We are happy to see our inspiring and supportive community grow, and we are always open for new members! 

Funding news and congratulations 

This year we have had numerous exciting hiring and funding news. 

  • PhD researcher Saara Vainio received four-year funding from SEDUCE for her PhD research concerning future trajectories of education and changing education governance towards neo-behaviourism. 
  • PhD researcher Kalle Mäkelä received funding from the Faculty of Educational Sciences, UH to finalise his PhD summary concerning the governing of young people through neoliberal management.  
  • PhD researcher Kirsi Yliniva received funding from the University of Oulu Scholarship Foundation for her PhD research about the political agency of the child in the Anthropocene.  
  • Dr. Satu Valkonen received a considerable funding from the Ministry of Education and Culture for her new research project related to early childhood education.  
  • Dr. Katariina Mertanen got 1-year funding from the Ehrnrooth foundation to continue her youth policy and marketisation research in the FuturEd-project.  
  • Dr. Birgit Schaffar-Kronqvist was award the title of Docent in Educational Philosophy at UH. 
  • Dr. Hanna Posti-Ahokas was appointed as a permanent university lecturer to the Changing Education Master’s Programme at the Faculty of Educational Sciences, UH. Before starting in this position, Hanna will be working on her own research and the GINTL network, therefore  
  • Dr. Helena Hinke Dobrochinski Candido was appointed a fixed-term university lecturer at the Changing Education Master’s Programme, UH. 
  • Dr. Anniina Leiviskä was appointed Associate Professor in Philosophy of Education at the Faculty of Education, University of Oulu. 

Congratulations to all! 


Our researchers have given talks, keynotes, and other presentations in numerous national and international events related broadly to inequalities, equality, and diversity in education. To highlight some of the important events our scholars have been part of: 

  • In the fall semester, the Education and Society -research community, AGORA and KUPOLI at the UH, organised an open international lecture series “FuturEducation: Future Trajectories of Education and the Emergence of Precision Education Governance”. The lecture series was chaired by Professors Kristiina Brunila and Janne Varjo, included several AGORA affiliated researchers, and reached a wide audience from different universities all over the world.   
  • In May 2022, the Comparative and International Education research seminar, lead by Dr. Helena Candido, held a symposium on sociological systems theory and comparative education. 
  • In May 2022, AGORA affiliated Fulbright PhD researcher Meg Jones facilitated an important training for the staff of the Faculty of Educational Sciences, UH about queer and trans inclusive curriculum and classroom practices. 
  • Professor Kristiina Brunila has actively shared AGORA’s research results related to education and inequalities in over thirty high profile events (e.g. National board of education, min. of education, universities and universities of applied sciences, Ombudsman for Equality, NGOs, Finnish education evaluation centre) to thousands of participants (researchers, teachers, guidance workers, rectors, policy makers). The feedback is clear: research-based understanding and societal literacy are the most crucial matters in tackling inequalities in education and beyond.

Forthcoming events 

  • The NERA Network 21: Politics of Education and Education Policy Studies, convener by Dr. Helena Candido, is organizing a webinar about COVID and politics of education. Stay tuned for more information! 
  • PhD researcher Sari Alfi-Nissan (Bar-Ilan University, Israel) will be visiting AGORA in the fall semester 2022. We are very excited to meet Sari in person and learn more about her interesting research on the formation of self and identity in the iGen era.  
  • Starting May 2022, AGORA in collaboration with the Feminist Association Unioni started a new reading group focused on feminist theory. The group meet once a month in Helsinki and is facilitated by AGORA’s assistant coordinator Inka Tähkä and PhD researcher Saara Vainio. Everyone is welcome to join, check out all the details on our website. 
  • In Autumn 2022, professors Kristiina Brunila and Janne Varjo will again continue chairing intl. Lecture series related to future trajectories of changing education governance with world-known visiting speakers.  
  • In Autumn 2022, Dr. Katariina Mertanen works as a visiting scholar in Malmö Uni and Prof. Kristiina Brunila in Uni of Melbourne. 
  • In Autumn 2022, Dr. Satu Valkonen, Dr. Katariina Mertanen, PhD researcher Saara Vainio and Prof. Kristiina Brunila hold an intl. Symposium What if we didn’t look at Finland as a model for a change? The high risks of construction of future-proof education in AARE-conference, Adelaide with Prof. Julie McLeod as the discussant.  
  • In Spring 2023, Docent Birgit Schaffar-Kronqvist and Kristiina Brunila will chair an intl. doctoral course in SEDUCE of academic writing with critical perspectives.  


Overall, AGORA-scholars have written and published numerous peer-reviewed articles and chapters during the academic year 2021-2022. On our website you can see the full list of these excellent publications to add to your reading list. There are also several interesting upcoming publications, for example: 

  • Dr. Crystal Baer Green, who we have been glad to welcome as a visiting scholar at our faculty, is publishing a new book “Freire and Critical Theorists”. The book is part of a new series by Bloomsbury called Freire in Focus edited by Carlos Alberto Torres and Greg Misiaszek. . In this book, Crystal Green draws connections between the life and work of Paulo Freire and some of the most influential critical scholars of the 20th century. Tracing the contours of Freire’s life and work through a selected reading of these scholars, Green takes up Freire’s invitation to use his perspective as a lens into different contexts and offers an expanded look at Freire’s contribution to critical theory.  Each chapter pairs Freire with one of eleven critical scholars, giving a biographical summary and expanding shared themes in their work. 
  • The co-edited book by Daniel Nehring (Swansea Uni) and Kristiina Brunila “Affective Capitalism in Academia” is coming out this autumn. The book includes unique and topical contributions from eminent scholars from different parts of the world and goes further into critical analysis of the marketisation of HE. 

FuturEd-research project news 

On behalf of the AGORA community, we wish you a lovely and relaxing summer!