Winter news from the AGORA research centre

As the year 2022 is coming to an end, we wanted to provide a little summary of the autumn semester at AGORA for the study of social justice and equality in education -research centre, Faculty of Educational Sciences, University of Helsinki (UH). It has been an exceptional year once again, and AGORA wants to thank everyone, especially our active and supportive community members and great colleagues all around the world. Here are some of the highlights from autumn 2022:

AGORA community

AGORA has had the pleasure to welcome several new junior and senior scholars to our community. We’ve heard many interesting talks and presentations such as PhD researcher Sari Alfi-Nissan (Bar-Ilan University, Israel) on the formation of self and identity in the iGen era.

We have also been delighted to introduce two new PhD researchers to our community:

  • Veera Tervo was granted a study right at to the UH Doctoral School on School, Society, Education and Culture (SEDUCE). Tervo’s PhD research examines dis/order in Finnish primary school and the relationship between disorder and order and issues of power in education. Congratulations to Veera and supervisors Professor Kristiina Brunila and Professor Maija Lanas.
  • Agora Centre’s assistant coordinator Inka Tähkä was granted a study right and a 4-year salaried PhD researcher position in SEDUCE for her research on young men’s mental health and the discursive production of gender, masculinities, and mental health in Finnish school context.  Congratulations to Inka and supervisors Professor Kristiina Brunila and Professor Leena-Maija Rossi.


  • PhD researcher Ameera Masoud received funding from the Doctoral School in Humanities and Social Sciences, UH to finalise her PhD exploring the constructing the “intergrate-able” refugee and immigrant through integration policies and integration practices in Finland. 
  • PhD Researcher Meg Jones received an award for promoting LGBTQIA+ rights as a member of teaching staff at UH. Jones has done a lot of important work in promoting equality at UH and been active in facilitating lectures and workshops for both university staff and students on several occasions.
  • AGORA’s assistant coordinator Inka Tähkä’s master’s thesis ““Everywhere you get these models of what you should be like.” Men, masculinities, and mental health” was awarded as the best master’s thesis of the Changing Education master's programme 2022 and selected as the best master’s thesis in 2022 of the Faculty of Educational Sciences, UH.
  • The public defence of Yenny Hinostroza Paredes’ dissertation titled “Understanding Chilean university-based teacher educators’ agency: a study of reflexivity, contextual influences, and professionalism” is taking place on January 25th, 2023 at UH. Hinostroza Paredes’ supervisors are Associate Professor Sonja Kosunen, Dr Helena Hinke Dobrochinski Candido and Dr Janne Säntti.
  • University Lecturer Juho Honkasilta was rewarded a Medal of Merit by the student organisation Erikeepperi ry. The Board and members of Erikeepperi ry describes Honkasilta as a "competent and professional university teacher who treats students with equality and respect. Honkasilta is highly regarded by our students because he teaches us the way he would like us to teach when we move into the working life."

Congratulations to all for the rewards of hard work!

Important discussions in the media

AGORA researchers have often been asked for interviews to share their research to the general public through different media channels, for example:

Publication and collaboration news

Among these AGORA scholars have published for example about marketisation and privatisation of education, changes in education governance, democracy, human rights and other inequalities in education and beyond.

AGORA all around the world

Our international community has been very active all around the globe this autumn. The AGORA researchers have been doing research and visiting colleagues in several places:

  • Dr Katariina Mertanen visited Malmö University, Sweden, as a guest of Professor Malin Ideland and participated in Prof Ideland’s research group. During the two-week visit, they focused in particular on network ethnography methods and experimented with different ways of analysing network and website data.
  • Professor Kristiina Brunila has been visiting the Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne Australia for the fall 2022. She has given seminars and built intensive collaboration in terms of future trajectories of education and changes in global education governance.
  • Together with Professor Brunila, Dr Satu Valkonen, Dr Katariina Mertanen, and PhD Researcher Saara Vainio attended the AARE Conference in Adelaine by organising a symposium discussing the risks of construction of future-proof education with the emergence of precision education governance. The symposium attracted a full house and provoked a lot of important reflections with discussant Professor Julie McLeod.
  • Docent Birgit Schaffar-Kronqvist visited Norway in November. Schaffar-Kronqvist was invited to a PhD course about the role of higher education today and tomorrow at NTNU, Trondheim. Her lecture "Means and Meanings of Research Collaboration in the Face of a Suffering Earth: A Landscape of Questions" was attended by doctoral students from all Nordic countries. In addition, Schaffar-Kronqvist addressed the research group HumStud (Humanities Studies in Education) at the University of Oslo and gave a lecture for the general public about "The Ruins of Education. A Guide for Residents and Tourists", discussing how Western philosophy and knowledge formation have contributed to the current catastrophe in nature.
  • Dr Helena Hinke Dobrochinski Candido is currently on a research trip to Argentina and Brazil at Universidad Nacional de General Sarmiento (Argentina) and Federal University of Minas Gerais (Brazil), where she will give lectures, work with colleagues on the Special Issue on the political effects of PISA in the Global South, and make plans for future collaborations.

AGORA news to look forward to:

  • The open international FuturEducation lecture series, initiated in fall 2021, continued this fall with FuturEducation II - Reimagining the Future of Education with several prestigious international scholars. The last lecture by Nelli Piattoeva will take place on December 16th, 2022 at 10.15-11.45 (UTC+2) and is open for everyone – welcome!
  • In spring 2023, Docent Birgit Schaffar-Kronqvist and Professor Kristiina Brunila will have a doctoral course ”SED-917 Academic Writing – Critical Interventions” targeted at SEDUCE doctoral students, but other may also attend. The course will support participants to reflect on different (academic) writing styles and broaden their ability to express themselves, their data and thought in even other styles than academic articles. The reflection about differences in writing styles will in turn enable a better judgment for their own article-writing. Registration in Sisu starts January 1st!
  • In the future, AGORA will grant its' annual awards for notable work promoting awareness on social justice and equality in education. Keep an eye on AGORA’s webpage for more details later.
  • AGORA website has had a little makeover over the autumn. For example, now you can find all interviews in the same place under “Interviews with AGORA researchers” title. Our People & Research -interview series has continued with several interesting interviews with AGORA researchers and affilities. In addition, our new video interview series Inequalities in Education started with an interview with brilliant PhD Researcher Saara Vainio about her acute research on education governance, especially in youth education. The Inequalities in Education series will continue in the spring, stay tuned!

We wish you a great rest of the year and hope to see you in 2023!