Oleksandra Nenko profile picture
Turku Institute for Advanced Studies (TIAS)
Collegium Researcher, Degree Programme in Digital Culture, Landscape and Cultural Heritage
Dr.Soc., collegium fellow TIAS UTU
TIAS collegium member, Landscape Studies researcher, "IN SITU" HORIZON project Finnish lab member, PI of the "WoodiSH" project supported by Nordic Biodiversity Group

Areas of expertise

urban studies
urban sociology
urban anthropology
anthropology of place
place attachment
emotional mapping
participatory mapping
studies of creative collectives
cultural creative industries


Academic education

2007-2011 Taras Shevchenko Kyiv National University, Faculty of Sociology, Doctoral Degree in Sociology. Title of PhD Thesis “Political Humour as Representation of the Political Discourse”.

2002-2007 Kharkiv National University, Faculty of Sociology, MA Sociology (Honours).

Posts and positions of primary importance

2022- visiting researcher at the University of the Arts (UNIARTS) Helsinki

2015-2022 ITMO University, Institute for Design and Urban Studies - associate professor, head of Quality of Urban Life Laboratory (QULLAB), curator of the MA Program tracks “Urban Management” and “Urban Planning” (2020-2022). 

2012-2022 Center for German and European Studies, St. Petersburg State University-University of Bielefeld, associate researcher. Project manager of the research area “Creativity, communities and public spaces” (2021-2022). 

2016-2021 Calvert 22 Foundation, “Creative Practices” Foundation, associate analyst.

2012-2014 Higher School of Economics, researcher, head of the Academic Development Fund. 

2007-2011 Taras Shevchenko Kyiv National University - PhD student, researcher at the Laboratory for Applied Social Research.

2009-2010 National Academy of Science of Ukraine, Institute of Economics and Forecasting, Department for socio-economic transformation monitoring, junior researcher.

2008-2010 Aleksander Yaremenko Ukrainian Institute for Social Research - project coordinator and analyst. 

Scientific research grants during the last 5 years

Grant from the Russian Scientific Fund “Spatial segregation of the largest post-Soviet cities: analysis of the geography of personal activity of residents based on big data”, 2021-2022 (PI).

Grant from the Russian Foundation for Basic Research “Investigation of local grassroots sustainability of neighboring online communities”, 2021-2022 (PI).

Grant from the Russian Foundation for Basic Research “Emotional perception of the environment as a factor of urban resilience”, 2020-2022 (PI).

Applied scientific project of ITMO University “Developing methodology to study behavioral patterns based on the characteristics of the subjective perception of the urban environment”, 2018 (PI).

International Finnish-Russian grant supported by KONE Foundation “Circular Citizens: Beyond Rules and Obligations: Exploring Citizen Motivations, Routes and Personal Strategies for Becoming Active in Circular Economy in Russia and Finland”, 2020-2023 (participant). 

Interreg Project Smart-up BSR, 2017-2020 (participant).

Applied research projects during the last 5 years

Mapping cultural ecosystem services in the green zones of Kaliningrad. Commissioned by the Kaliningrad region administration, together with the NGO “Park Ring”, 2021-2022 (PI). 

Analysis of the informational field of the Cherepovets town for detection of the problems and values of the citizens. Commissioned by the Cherepovets town administration and Moscow Center for Urban Studies, 2021 (PI). 

Participatory mapping of environmental values, problems, and ideas within the dwellers and the tourists in Sochi. Commissioned by the Scientific and Research Institute for Urban Planning and Sochi city administration, 2021 (PI). 

How do creative entrepreneurs live? Values of the creative community of Siberian cities. Commissioned by “Creative Practices” Foundation, 2021 (PI).

Analysis of the Digital Footprint of Tourists in St.Petersburg. Commissioned by the Committee for Tourism Development, 2020 (PI). Analysis of the cultural ecosystem services of the green zones in Voronezh. Commissioned by the MLA+ consulting and architectural bureau, 2020.


    I have been teaching since 2007 as a PhD student in Taras Shevchenko Kyiv National University, Faculty of Sociology, assisting my Prof. Dr. Olga Kutsenko in the courses on Social Stratification and Social Inequalities.

    The main volume of my teaching started in 2014 when I became associate professor at the Institute for Design and Urban Studies at ITMO University (St.Petersburg). I have elaborated and taught the following courses for MA students: Introduction to the Science of Cities, Public Spaces and Urban Culture, Methods of Applied Urban Studies, Participatory Design of Urban Spaces, Research and Design of Urban Territories (interdisciplinary workshop), Design of Public Spaces (interdisciplinary workshop). 

    In 2020-2022 I have curated two tracks of the MA Program of the same institution - “Urban Management” and “Urban Planning”.  

    In 2014-2020 I have supervised MA theses of over 55 students and 1 PhD student. 


    In my research I concentrate on cultural actors-space interaction, specifically on participatory mapping of emotionally meaningful location-specific affordances significant for place-making activities of rural and urban cultural actors in a comparative perspective. 

    My research is combining sociology of culture, environmental psychology and participatory methods in geography and landscape studies, developing a multidisciplinary lense for human-environment studies, in particular, cultural landscape studies. The multidisciplinarity will result in defining location-specific affordances, which cultural actors enable in their place-making activities and will cover the gaps in place-making and place scholarship. Participatory emotional mapping with experiential GIS will add a share into open and citizen science. 

    The project combines findings coming from sociology of culture, environmental psychology, anthropology of place. It takes from the place scholarship, interdisciplinary as such, and focuses on the relational notion of place. Moreover, it develops interdisciplinary methodology and specific toolkits, based on participatory principles, uniting latest developments in mapping techniques, GIS, visual anthropology and bringing arts’ perspective into scientific research through arts-based mapping tools. The research is not following scientific legitimacy only: I aim at making place-based planning recommendations for CCI in (non)urban areas, based on the results. 

    My research is closely linked with the international IN SITU project (HORIZON), which has been launched this autumn at UTU and represented by the teams of Landscape Studies and Futures Studies. 


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