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Finland’s first professorship in environmental pedagogy established at Tampere University

Published on 10.12.2019
Tampere University
Professori Kirsi Pauliina Kallio
According to Professor Kirsi Pauliina Kallio, large cities in developing countries acquire resource wisdom that can be learned from in our society, too.
Kirsi Pauliina Kallio, Doctor of Administrative Studies, will be Finland’s first professor of environmental pedagogy when she starts in the new post next March. The professorship at the Faculty of Education and Culture of Tampere University is part of the multidisciplinary environmental knowledge hub that involves research and teaching in environmental policy and politics, environmental technology, circular economy and urban sustainable development.

According to Päivi Pahta, Dean of the Faculty of Education and Culture, the professorship brings new kind of environmental understanding to the training of future teachers and pedagogical experts.

“I see this professorship as a truly significant new opening for building ecological pedagogy and active agency and, as a result, a better future. Environmental pedagogy has been one of the topics in our education and research, but the emphasis and impact of the field will increase with the new professorship,” Pahta says.

According to Pahta, the professorship responds to the strong desire of children and young people as well as adults for a more ecologically sustainable society. This is related particularly to climate change, which does not respect national borders and concerns especially the younger generations.

“Environmental education has already been one of the topics we address in our education and research, as has been the case in some other faculties of education. There is a professor of geography and environmental education at the University of Helsinki. However, with the new professorship, we want to increase the emphasis and impact of the field and enable new research openings. At the same time, we will be able to develop new multidisciplinary collaboration at Tampere University,” says Pahta.

Thanks to the professorship, the University can also offer new kind of expertise to the City of Tampere and the Pirkanmaa region.

“We are grateful that the city has been willing to join us in this opening,” Pahta adds.

City of Tampere supports with a partnership grant

The City of Tampere’s Vitality and Expertise Committee awarded the University a partnership grant for the establishment of the post.

“Supporting a professorship in environmental pedagogy is part of the partnership between the city and the university community, by which we want to support the development of disciplines and fields that contribute to our strategy. The goal of the City of Tampere is to be carbon-neutral by 2030, and the themes of sustainable development are a cross-cutting issue in all development,” says Anna-Kaisa Heinämäki, Deputy Mayor of Growth, Innovation and Competitiveness at the City of Tampere.

In line with sustainable development, the city is committed to development that balances ecological, social, cultural and economic aspects. Tampere has been a member of the international ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability network since 1994.

Multidisciplinary path led to the post of professor of environmental pedagogy

Kallio will transfer to the position of professor of environmental pedagogy from the fixed-term position of professor of regional studies at Tampere University. Kallio is familiar with working in interdisciplinary and multi-professional research environments.

“In environmental pedagogy, new activities will be tried out and developed to integrate further research, teaching and societal impact. The Versus journal, which provides an open publication and discussion forum as well as a learning environment to popular science, will be used as one dialogical channel between students, researchers and the society.

Professor Kallio emphasises the equal importance and different role of international and national publishing, considering their juxtaposition harmful.

“I think it is important to carry out basic research, applied research and development projects in connection with each other. Through them, teaching is directly linked to both latest research and the new understanding produced at the interface of research and practice,” Kallio explains.

As a researcher, Kallio highlights the contextual nature of societal phenomena, and spatial connections and disruptions. Her thoughts on environmental pedagogy reflect these theoretical perspectives. In today’s world, people’s lived realities do not establish as expanding circles, but through translocal and transnational connections. Therefore, environmental pedagogy should acknowledge such relational worlds as a starting point, where people’s attitudes, views, concerns, dreams and activities are contextually generated.

“As a pedagogical question, the environment is manifold and cannot be ‘solved’ once and for all. In my new position, I want to develop a better understanding of environmental pedagogy with other researchers, students, professionals, politicians, and experts by experience,” Kallio says.

Kallio believes that the post of the professor of environmental pedagogy at Tampere University is a new and interesting opening in the strategically strengthened multidisciplinary development of environmental studies and education.

“There are connections to all of the university’s strategic spearheads - technology, health and society. Along with this post, educational sciences will also be strongly involved in wide co-operation, including the new Degree Programme in Sustainable Urban Development, with which we are already thinking collaboration ideas,” Kallio says.