Research at the Department of Landscape Studies

Landscape Studies researches places, landscape and their change from a cultural point of view, combining a humanistic approach with the theory and methods of other disciplines focused on studying the environment. The methods may entail interviews, Public Participation GIS, historical study, visual analysis or participatory observation.

Typical research questions are:

  • How is landscape experienced by people?
  • How has the landscape been shaped?
  • How do values affect the development of landscape?
  • What kind of landscape is just?

Our research projects

IN SITU - Place-based innovation of cultural and creative industries in non-urban areas, 2022 - 2026. Horizon Europe

HORIZON Europe IN SITU - Place-based innovation of cultural and creative industries in non-urban areas (2022 - 2026)

The multidisciplinary IN SITU project is coordinated by the Centre of Social Studies at the University of Coimbra and studies cultural and creative industries (CCIs) in the non-urban regions of Europe. While previous scholarship has predominantly addressed CCIs in urban contexts, IN SITU focuses on cultural actors in non-urban areas to find out their specific features, needs and capabilities. IN SITU unites institutional partners from 12 European countries, including National University of Ireland Galway, European Network of Cultural Centres ENCC as well as universities of Utrecht, Bifröst and Hildesheim. Besides, the project has a number of international outreach partners such as Cultural Action Europe, Creative Scotland and Creative Cities Network in Canada.

The core of IN SITU are six Labs, one of them based in UTU. Other Labs are located in Portugal, Ireland, Iceland, Latvia, and Croatia. The Finnish Lab is led by professor Maunu Häyrynen (PI), Landscape Studies, and Katriina Siivonen, leader of the Finland Futures Research Centre. Other team members include Oleksandra Nenko and Marjo Heino (Landscape Studies) and Pauliina Latvala-Harvilahti (Futures Studies). The Lab will study CCIs in the non-urban areas next to the cities of Rauma and Eurajoki. 

Activities within the Finnish subproject will cover CCIs representing different sectors of cultural and creative economy, their networks and patterns of creative work, as well as the local tangible and intangible resources they use for their activities. It is founded on the pioneering work of UTU Landscape Studies on cultural mapping of rural areas in the Kokemäenjokilaakso River Valley. The participatory futures research methods offered by the Finland Futures Research Centre will be used to support CCIs activities, in particular to increase their sustainability, innovation and competitiveness.

Contact person: Maunu Häyrynen,

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Kokkeli: participatory protection and artistic development of the environment in the Kokemäki River valley in Western Finland

Significant cultural and natural values are associated with the landscape of the Kokemäki River Valley situated in Western Finland. There is an increasing pressure on this region, and there is no unanimity concerning the values and ways of protecting its rural landscapes. The project supported by the Kone Foundation, Finland, will produce an art path in this valley by means of participatory cultural planning and development. The aim is to bring together the values of experts and locals regarding the cultural environment. Among other things, the project will identify regional cultural resources, develop a new model of participatory protection and create a new contact network in the region. The researchers include Regional Artist Marjo Heino and Researcher Vuokko Kemppi-Vienola.

Contact person: Professor Maunu Häyrynen

Nature-based water management and sociocultural aspects of town planning – a case study on the City of Pori, Finland

This cooperative project, coordinated by the Finnish Environment Institute, explores nature-based solutions for problems in land use brought about by climate change. Landscape Studies executed a sub-study that focused on the social and cultural aims and effectiveness of urban water management in the City of Pori. The study focused on storm waters and it was carried out through expert interviews. The responsible researcher was Ilona Hankonen.

Contact person: Professor Maunu Häyrynen

A survey of the third and fourth sector in the Finnish cultural sector

The joint study of Cupore and the University of Turku maps the current state of affairs of the third and fourth sector of culture from the point of view of local and regional development. The survey evaluates the changes in the third and fourth sectors of culture, which affect the cultural activities of municipalities. The study focuses on the culture and art types related to the third and fourth sectors and the cooperation models applied by different municipalities. The aim of the study is to highlight how the municipalities have prepared themselves for the impact of the regional government reform in terms of cultural activities, co-operation, and resources.

Contact person: Professor Maunu Häyrynen

BalticRim project dives into the Baltic Sea

The use of sea areas is increasing strongly. This trend emphasises a need for co-ordination of different risks and resources. By means of Maritime Spatial Planning, the Baltic Sea region aims at sustainable development of the marine area and the achievement of a good state of affairs through the realisation of cross-border and sectoral co-operation. The BalticRIM project explores ways to consider the exceptionally well-preserved underwater cultural heritage and landscape in the Baltic Sea. The national partners in the project include the Finnish Heritage Agency and Metsähallitus Parks and Wildlife Finland, and the project is managed by the State Archaeological Department of Schleswig-Holstein. Landscape research is part of a subproject that explores the definitions of underwater landscapes and cultural heritage as well as divers' experiences of the underwater scenery. The project receives co-financing from the ERDF Interreg Baltic Sea Region programme. The project researcher is Laura Seesmeri.

Contact person: Professor Maunu Häyrynen

Living with Cultural Heritage: Sharing Experiences and Knowledge around the Baltic Sea

The project explores how a historic city can be developed while protecting its special environment and culture. It includes three cities – Rauma in Finland, Visby in Sweden and Kuldiga and Aizpute in Latvia. The project compares the similarities and differences between people’s experiences of these cities to find good practices for promoting tourism. The participants develop tourism projects and products based on the local culture and natural environment. In practice, the work consists of the planning and implementation of tourism projects and the sharing of experiences in joint workshops and social media. The project will produce three new joint tourism projects and tourist packages with a brochure. The project is funded by the EU  Central Baltic Programme.

Contact person: Laura Puolamäki

Challenged Hegemony: The Environmental History of the Finnish Forest Industry, 1870-1970

The wood processing industry has been the largest single polluter of soil, watercourses and air in the Northern Hemisphere. However, no extensive national research has been carried out regarding the environmental history of this industry in any country with major investments in forestry. The aim of the research project is to compile the first holistic set of research data of the environmental history of the Finnish forest industry. For a long time, the Finnish forest industry held a quasi-hegemonic local and national position. Consequently, challenging the powerful forest industry was a risky initiative. The concept of challenged hegemony reflects the social status, attitudes and politics (hegemony) of the forest industry and its critics (challengers). The research will investigate the environmental arenas, actors, and arguments of the industry, both in the private and public sector as well as in the civil society, between 1870 and 1970, when the current environmental policy principles of the wood processing industry were gradually evolving. The first phase of the three-phase research project is funded by the Niemi Foundation and the Kymenlaakso Cultural Foundation. The researchers are Sami Louekari, Director of the Finnish Museum of Agriculture Sarka, and Senior Lecturer Simo Laakkonen.

Contact person: Simo Laakkonen

Environmental History of the Baltic Sea

Environmental history examines the interaction between human and nature over time. The purpose of this long-term research programme is to systematically compile the first comprehensive image of the environmental history regarding the pollution and protection of the Baltic Sea, extending from the late 19th to the early 21st century. It is regionally targeted at three different levels in the Baltic Sea catchment area: the local (cities), the national (different,) and the international level (cross-cutting themes). These themes include the environmental history of radioactive depositions, oil accidents and emissions, toxic substances, nutrients and eutrophication, and international protection cooperation, mainly from the Cold War era. The programme focuses on the history of four major players, namely environmental policy, science, technology and media. For this reason, the programme has conducted multidisciplinary co-operation with senior scholars and students in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and environmental engineering in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Germany, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and Russia. The various stages of the programme have been funded, for example, by the Academy of Finland and the Nordic Council of Ministers. The current subproject, funded by the Pori University Consortium, is aimed at studying the reactions of the socialist countries of Eastern Europe to the pollution of the Baltic Sea by means of exploring the materials in the Polish State Archives.

Contact person: Simo Laakkonen

Recent publications in the Degree Programme in Digital Culture, Landscape and Cultural Heritage