Mila Seppälä profile picture
Doctoral Researcher, Political Science
John Morton Center for North American Studies

Areas of expertise

North American Studies
Political Science
youth activism
social movements


I am a Ph.D. researcher at the Department of Philosophy, Contemporary History and Political Science, working on my dissertation at the John Morton Center for North American Studies at the University of Turku. My research focuses on youth activism in the United States and the development of political imagination in the gun violence prevention movements in the United States. I have worked on multiple publications together with the Campus Carry project led by my supervisor Professor Benita Heiskanen, I am a part of the JMC Research Network and a guest lecturer in the North American Studies (NAMS) minor program. The academic year 2021-2022 I spent at The University of Texas at Austin as an ASLA-Fulbright Pre-Doctoral Research Fellows grantee. At UT Austin, I conducted fieldwork for my dissertation and studied in the American Studies program. I finished my Master's in 2018 and my Bachelor in 2016 in the Department of English, specializing in discourse studies.


At the JMC, I have taught the course Reading Seminar on Social Movements in the United States since 1905. I have given guest lectures on youth activism, African American Hair and worked as an instructor on the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election course and the 2022 Congressional Elections course. I also worked as a TA for Professor Benita Heiskanen on her Race, Class and Gender course and for Senior Researcher Lottamari Kähkönen on her Poor and Working-Class Whites in the U.S course in the NAMS program. During my doctoral research, I have completed the Basic of Univeristy Pedagogy course.


The main objective of my dissertation is to examine how the movement for gun control and gun violence prevention has evolved and changed in the 21st century. The starting point for the research is the watershed movement of the March For Our Lives (MFOL) demonstrations to end gun violence that were organized after the Parkland, Florida high school shooting in 2018. The marches became the largest student-led protests since the Vietnam War. In the dissertation, I consider how the involvement of Generation Z (b. 1997–2012) has shifted the way advocacy for gun reform is conceived and done. Tracing the movement from its beginning in the 1960s, I compare how 1) perceived political opportunities tied to generational experiences, 2) rapidly changing information environments and 3) questions of identity related to gender, class and race have influenced the actions and goals of the movement.


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