The Researcher in Spotlight is a series which introduces the researchers of the Faculty of Law. We are presenting now Doctoral Researcher Sonja Vilenius.
Position in the Faculty of Law: Doctoral researcher
Degrees: Master of Laws
Fields of interest: Environmental law, natural resources law, governance, regulatory theory, community benefit agreements, self-regulation
Describe your career path. What led you to where you are today?
I ended up being a doctoral researcher partly by coincidence. This was not the career path I planned on at the beginning of legal studies, which was in a sense logical since my knowledge on that matter was pretty thin. However, I became interested in research when I was writing my master's thesis, because I was lucky to find a study subject that felt meaningful and interesting. When it was time to graduate I felt that my journey with that subject was unfinished. Against this background, the choice to apply for a doctoral researcher’s position seems quite natural since the research subject has remained the same. We will see if I’ll get enough of it through this project.
Sonja Vilenius´s research subject is a regulatory instrument called community benefit agreement.
What projects are you currently working on?
I am mainly working on my doctoral dissertation. My research subject is a regulatory instrument called community benefit agreement. It is an agreement between a mining company and a local community that is impacted by a mining project, and it can deal, among other things, with benefit sharing and matters concerning how the mining project is carried out. The subject is very topical because at the same time as mineral demand has increased local communities’ opposition to new mining projects and their division into supporters and opponents of mining has become more visible. These legitimacy problems have influenced the development of this regulatory instrument. Although agreements are ancient regulatory tools are they in this form new for the Finnish regulatory mix. Therefore, my research focuses on the reasons for the adoption of community benefit agreements and their application possibilities.
Have your interests evolved since finishing your studies?
I would say that my interests haven’t changed but they have multiplied as my knowledge has deepened. However, contracts and environmental law have fascinated me for a long time and I am lucky to be able to study both of them during my doctoral project.
Sonja Vilenius wishes to work in places where she is to challenge her “little grey cells”.
What would you be, if you were not a researcher?
If this question was posed to young me the answer would be Hercule Poirot or some other master detective. If this thought is mirrored in my career aspirations nowadays I believe it tells that I wish to work in places where I am able to challenge my “little grey cells”.
What inspires you?
Both at work and in my free time I get inspired by good conversations whether the subject is academic or not. I think it is fascinating to learn through discussions how differently we can view the same things and the world in general.