Our international research team consists of researchers from the universities of Oxford, Stockholm, Åbo and Helsinki, complemented by a brilliant advisory board, all experts in their fields.
Arniika Kuusisto

Dr Arniika Kuusisto is the head of the Growing up radical? research project. Arniika works at the University of Helsinki as a Professor of Early Childhood Education and Care and at Stockholm University as Professor of Child and Youth Studies. She is interested in children and young people's value learning trajectories, especially in the interplay between agency and socialization in children’s growing up contexts. Her research interests also include worldview education in different levels, and educator professionalism and sensitivity to diversities.

View Arniika's university profile


Liam Gearon

Dr Liam Francis Gearon works as a supervisor and co-investigator in the Growing up radical? research project. Liam is an Associate Professor in the Department of Education and Senior Research Fellow at Harris Manchester College, University of Oxford. A philosopher and theorist of education, Liam is a specialist in critical, historical and contemporary analyses of education in multi-disciplinary contexts. He is interested in the historical determinants of counter-extremism in education and in the value learning and life history research in political and security contexts.

Visit Liam's university home page.

Christine Namdar

Christine Namdar is a Doctoral Researcher for the project “Growing up radical? The role of educational institutions in guiding young people’s worldview construction”, which is being carried out at University of Helsinki, University of Oxford, Stockholm University, i at the department of education and Åbo Akademi at the department of Sociology between 2018-2023 and funded by the Academy of Finland.

Christine is also a lecturer at the University of Helsinki in the Department of Education and affiliated with the Department of Sociology at Åbo Akademi. In the past she has worked as a researcher at the Warwick Business School, Center for small and medium-sized enterprises, where she investigated businesses’ sense of community responsibility. She has also conducted research at the War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague looking at factors that influence initiatives to address social injustices in the context of international law.

Christine holds a BA and MA by research in sociology from The University of Warwick, as well as a BSc in education from Stockholm University. She has also studied at Lund university. Her Ph.D. research looks at the positive potential, entrepreneurial and other capabilities of youth as transformative agents of change. She states, “ Youth in general, are seldom regarded in terms of their positive potentials, though the rhetoric is about them being our future”.

Her research interests include service-based learning, existential and spiritual questions in educational settings, Cosmopolitan and Global citizenship education as well as evaluating successful deradicalisation processes in society. She is also actively researching service-based projects in schools and communities promoting the role of youth as transformative agents of change in both Finland and Sweden.

Visit Christine' s university home page: 

Christine in Twitter

Saija Benjamin (2018-2022)

Saija Benjamin has worked in the Growing up radical? research project as a post-doctoral researcher. Within the larger study, her special focus was on the individual life trajectories and the socio-emotional development and meaning making of the young informants. With a teacher background, Saija is especially interested in the ways school education can support children and youths' positive worldview and identity construction, and the development of socio-emotional and cognitive skills that strengthen the youths' resilience against harmful developments, such as radicalisation.

Visit Saija's university home page.

Pia-Maria Koirikivi (née Niemi) (2018-2022)

Pia-Maria Koirikivi, PhD, is a university lecturer in worldview education at the University of Helsinki (FIN) and worked in the Growing up radical? research project as a post-doctoral researcher. Pia-Maria is especially interested in religious and political extremism, and the ways in these issues are addressed in formal education. As a teacher educator, she wants to increase knowledge about the ways in which young people experience the educational settings as places for discussing and developing their own worldviews. During 2018-2019 Pia-Maria was working as a visiting researcher at McGill University in Montreal (CA) with the grant provided by Alfred Kordelin's Foundation. 

Visit Pia-Maria's university home page 

Follow me on Twitter: koirikivi_pia


Advisory Board

Professor Arto Kallioniemi, Professor of Religious Education, Unesco Professor, University of Helsinki, Finland 

Professor Kallioniemi is an expert in worldview education, human rights education, and teacher training concerning these content areas. Dr. Kallioniemi supports the reserach team's data collection especially with his experience in quantitative analyses. Dr. Kallioniemi will also help the team to disseminate the findings to relevant educational insitutions and networks.  

Dr Leena Malkki, University Lecturer, University of Helsinki, Finland

Dr Malkki is an expert in terrorism and political violence in western countries, history of terrorism, radicalisation and counterradicalisation, and school shootings. Dr. Malkki is also knowleable on Finnish policies on countering radicalisation and terrorism. Dr. Malkki supports the team especially with her knowledge related to terrorism studies and processes leading to violent extremism. 

Professor Jenny Berglund, Stockholm University, Sweden

Professor Berglund is an expert in Islam and education and she also has a wide knowledge on research concerning comparative religions and educational institutions. Dr. Berglund's experise support the research team especially in issues related to minority religions in education. 

Dr Veronika Honkasalo, Finnish Youth Research Network, Finland

Dr Honkasalo is an expert in multiculturalism in the lives of youth, gender studies, intergenerational and transnational relationships in young people's family and peer networks, youth work and policy. Dr. Honkasalo supports the project team especially with her knowledge on youth studies.