Members of KUPOLI research group.
Janne Varjo

After my doctoral thesis Drafting Education Legislation for the Competitive State – The Parliament of Finland and the 1990s Change in Education Policy (2007) I have worked / am working in eight research projects altogether, in five of them as a principal investigator. All of these projects are closely connected to issues of educational equality and governance of education – the range of objects of inquiry varying from nation states to social classes, and from municipalities to ethnic groups.

Reijo Aholainen

The subject of the dissertation research is the transformation of the EU education policy and policymaking within the Lisbon strategy in 2000–2010. The theoretical basis of the research leans on  Roger Dale’s theoretical analyses on the  Lisbon strategy and its Open Method Coordination  impact of globalisation and Europeanisation in European education. Dale’s theoretical arguments are analysed against empirical material of EU education policy documents and the discourse between the Commission and the Education Council (Member States’ Education Ministries).  The analysis of the research material and writing of the dissertation have progressed slowly because of the author’s full-time work in the Ministry of Education and in international assignments, e.g. in Cairo, Baku, Chisinau and Samarkand.

Alessandra Aldrovandi

I am a grant-funded Doctoral Researcher in the School, Education, Culture and Society programme at the Faculty of Educational Sciences, University of Helsinki. I previously studied young migrant-background students' identity and aspirations in the UK context. My current research focuses on the relationship between young adult and adult migrants’ belonging in Finland and their life designs in the context of adult education, which I explore by combining ethnography, interviews and policy analysis, using an intersectional approach. I am also interested in the implementation of Career Guidance and Counselling policies aimed at guiding adult migrants and its effects on social inclusion. My research is funded by Kone Foundation.

Samira Harjula

My doctoral thesis is about the ideal subject and governmentality in career guidance. The thesis answers the questions of what is being pursued with guidance in the society and how the ideal subject for the society is produced via power and knowledge. My research interests revolve around precarious working life, career guidance, governmentality, social justice of education and sociology of education. I currently work at the research unit focusing on the Sociology and Politics of Education (KUPOLI) at University of Helsinki. I’m a member of GUIDE research group focusing on governance and politics of career guidance. I have also worked in the project ‘Dynamics of Transition Policies (DTP) - governance of guidance and counselling in post comprehensive educational transitions in Finland’.

Pauliina Hongisto

I work as a project planner at KUPOLI on a research project that examines how municipalities could organize basic education in a new, but socially and culturally sustainable and fair way, and what meanings are given to different ways of organizing basic education in the future. My interests revolve around the connections between education and spatial development and the questions of educational equality.

Mira Kalalahti

I work as an associate professor at the University of Jyväskylä and affiliate also with KUPOLI and GUIDE research groups. I research and write about equality, agency and guidance on education. My research covers equal opportunities in education, educational choices and social mobility in education. My special focus has been on the questions of equality and justice through career guidance and counselling.

Pia Kola-Torvinen

My research interest is especially societal change and educational leadership in the comprehensive education school system. I am particularly interested in the systemic perspective and complexity thinking. In my dissertation, I research the experience of change in leadership at different levels of the comprehensive school system, at the school level and at the local and national level. My main job is at Finnish National Agency of Education, but I am also a doctoral researcher at the University of Helsinki.

Antti Paakkari

My research focuses on critical analyses of educational technologies. I am interested in the intersections of ed-tech, datafication, digital governance and privatization. Lately I have studied Early Childhood Education with an eye on the assemblages of children and digital technologies. I work as an Academy Postdoctoral Researcher at the Faculty of Education and Culture in Tampere University. I am currently leading the research project Educational technologies and the privatization of public schooling (2021-2024, Funded by the Academy of Finland).

Virpi Pakkanen

My research interests focus on education policy, the governing and economy of education, and their intertwining relations. In my doctoral research, I am studying how the ways of thinking about, and technologies applied to the funding and provision of comprehensive school education were transformed in the ‘public sector reforms’ carried out in Finland in the 1990s.

Veronica Salovaara

My research interests include research on children’s participation in decision-making, consultation of children as well as transition between school phases.  I am currently working as a postdoctoral researcher in a multidisciplinary research project on the effects of demographic trends to education: Muuttuva väestö – Väestömuutoksen vaikutukset varhaiskasvatuksen sekä esi- ja perusopetuksen järjestämiseen, financed by the Ministry of  Education and Culture.

Antti Seitamaa

I am researching the transformation of Finnish vocational education and training (VET) politics and policymaking over the last few decades. My goal is to understand how various political coalitions and important stakeholder organizations have changed the structure and purpose of VET. The data for my PhD consists of interviews with a broad range of leading experts in national VET policymaking, gathered between 2018-2021. I am particularly interested in educational equality in the context of a dual model of upper secondary education, the status of students with a migrant background in the Finnish education system as well as the role that the EU plays in national decision-making on VET. My research is inspired by Pierre Bourdieu’s sociological vision.

Hannu Simola

I am Emeritus Professor in Sociology and Politics of Education and a founding father of the KUPOLI. Before entering into the light of the university I was working as a class teacher for a decade in Havukoski, Vantaa. Thus I belong to the first generation of Peruskoulu teachers and I’m still a teacher at heart. Therefore, it is not surprise that I am particularly interested in decontextualisation of school discourse, the Finnish PISA success and its decline along with socio-analysis of teacherhood where I apply the ideas of one my domestic gods, Pierre Bourdieu. Those are also themes where I still welcome commissions and work assignments. Chiefly however, I do settle down to playing jazz and baroque (double bass), to net-fishing (whitefish and perch), to the activity in Norrskata Kulturvänner and of course, to the cherishing the good human relations.

Jarmo Veikkamo

My research interests are education policy and sociology of education. I am presently focusing on higher education. I am doing my doctoral research at the Faculty of Educational Sciences, University of Helsinki. My research focuses on the history and developmental dynamics of Finnish polytechnic system (Universities of Applied Sciences), which was launched in 1991. From a historical angle my research is tracing the communication and discourses which have been composing the path to vocational higher education.

Minna Vilkman

I am doctoral researcher focusing on power relations in vocational education and training. While analyzing power is mostly based on Michel Foucault, some of the theoretical background and methods come from youth studies. I also work in the University of Jyväskylä in Guidance and counselling program until December 2023.

Saija Volmari

My main research interests are the role of knowledge and expertise in education policymaking and politics, globalization and education, spatial and temporal social justice, and new materialist and post-structural social inquiry. My current research projects are a comparative study on the use of evidence and expertise in the recent curriculum reforms in the Nordic countries, and an interdisciplinary research project on the effects of demographic change (e.g. aging of population, declining birth rate, and migration) on the organization of early childhood, pre-school and basic education in the future.

Wenshan Yu

I am a visiting doctoral student from Beijing Normal University. My research interests revolve around the quality of early childhood education and care (ECEC) and its financial policies. Currently, I am focusing on the monitoring system for preschools at the local level in the context of digital governance and the mechanisms through which this system impacts the quality of preschools, utilizing mixed research methods. I am also interested in unfolding the "black box" of organizational learning and quality improvement in preschools.