Professor Martin Thrupp, Honorary Doctorate of University of Turku, is widely missed


Honorary Doctorate of the University of Turku, professor Martin Thrupp, 59, has passed away in Aotearoa New Zealand. Education policy sociologist Thrupp was recognized for his scholarly work and its societal impact. 

The memorial for professor Martin Thrupp at the University of Waikato was held on 1 February. Thrupp passed away after fighting cancer for 2 years.

Martin Thrupp was a scholar in critical education policy sociology, and had close collaborations with Finnish colleagues for the past 8 years. Thrupp was the main editor of  an open access volume  ‘Finland’s Famous Education System - Unvarnished insights into Finnish schooling’ published in 2023 (Springer, co-editors Piia Seppänen, Jaakko Kauko and Sonja Kosunen) with over 50 Finnish scholars questioning rhetoric, myths and commonly held assumptions surrounding Finnish schooling. He was a partner in research on Edu-business in public education systems with various scholars. Lately he also collaborated on studies on well-performing comprehensive schools in disadvantaged neighbourhoods in Finland showing how schools can successfully alleviate the local disadvantage to create equal opportunities for all pupils.

Over the thirty years Thrupp underlined that in order to research schools and schooling the context should be taken seriously. He conducted research on how school reforms, particularly marked-based education policies, are played out in different national and local settings. Martin’s public engagement and activism in society made significant contributions in Aotearoa New Zealand e.g. to the Quality Public Education Coalition and Child Poverty Action Group. In recent years, he was regular columnist for the New Zealand Principal Magazine.

“Martin Thrupp exposed some pitfalls of education policy reforms, like the National Standards policy in schools introduced in Aotearoa New Zealand 2008, which was eventually abolished 2017. He based his research, teaching and active role in society as one of his chapter topic formulates: “'Raising our heads': Keeping a critical eye on policy and research”, says professor Piia Seppänen from University of Turku who worked with him a decade. 

In May 2022 Martin received Honorary Doctorate degree at the University of Turku for his long-term collaboration, and as a recognition for his broad contributions to developing the field of education. From this last trip he had to Finland, he received the Finnish doctorate hat and the civilian sword. The doctoral sword symbolizes truth, righteousness and goodness, which are also great descriptions of Martin’s character.

Colleagues and friends knew Martin as a person with witty sense of humour who generously provided encouragement, support and collegiality, and wholeheartedly shared his great expertise and knowledge. He meant a lot for many in academic family and will be sorely missed.  

A colleague, professor John O’Neill from Massey University concluded as respect and honour of a mighty member of the community with a Māori whakatauki “Kua hinga he totara i te wao nui a Tane.” essentially meaning “the mighty tree of a forest has fallen” expressing the deep pain and sadness in the passing of this individual, who is seen as mighty as a New Zealand’s native totara tree of the forest.

The legacy of Martin Thrupp lives on in books, articles, blogs and columns and especially in the people and communities whose actions for social justice have been inspired by Martin’s work and character.

Photos: Piia Seppänen and Hanna Oksanen

Created 07.02.2024 | Updated 08.02.2024