Taiteelliset sateenvarjot kuvituskuva

Societal and Cultural Transformation to Solve Complex Problems

Sustainable development brings together complex problems and emphasizes their systemic interconnectedness. It is not possible to solve global challenges only one at time, rather it is necessary to grasp all of them at once. We are looking for solutions both on the level of individuals and communities as well as on the level of societal structures, state and economy. The ultimate goal is the sustainability of ecosystems and global social justice. To achieve them, societal and cultural transformation is necessary.

We conduct research on images of futures leading the transformation and we produce processes to support it. The basis consists of cultural knowledge, skills and worldviews, human-nature relationship, futures literacy and heritage futures. They are interconnected locally and globally to power and societal structures. Research on transformation is transdisciplinary, thus it is executed together with different societal actors

Ongoing Research and Development Projects:

AMPASE Dynamics of human-wasp cohabitance

Further information: Minna Santaoja

Creative adaptation to wicked socio-environmental disruptions (WISE)

WISE is funded by the Academy of Finland’s Strategic Research Council program entitled Adaptation and resilience for sustainable growth. The consortium is made of six subprojects with a total funding of 5.4 Meur over six years (2018–2023).

In 2018, WISE has conducted comprehensive expert interviews and literature surveys to map out Finland’s resilience gaps. The resilience gap survey is an assessment of societal weaknesses to prepare for and react to wicked disruptions. We are also designing War Room -type decision making simulations (Policy Operations Room, POR) and disruption scenarios with which to run the PORs.

Three types of POR are under design:

  1. Crisis-POR, which resembles existing preparedness exercises,
  2. Path-POR, which focuses on the long-term path dependencies of decisions, and
  3. Probability-POR, which develops decision support systems based on Bayesian probabilities.

At the moment we are transcribing and analyzing the expert interviews of the resilience gap mapping, and designing the PORs in collaboration with stakeholders. In addition, we are planning a public WISE-seminar on wicked problems.

The WISE subprojects are led by Janne I. Hukkinen (University of Helsinki, consortium leader), Turo-Kimmo Lehtonen (University of Tampere, deputy consortium leader), Sakari Kuikka (University of Helsinki), Peter Lund (Aalto University), Toni Ahlqvist (University of Turku), and Paavo Järvensivu (BIOS Research Unit, stakeholder interaction).

Project website: http://wiseproject.fi/
Twitter: @wiseprojectfi 

Further information: Toni Ahlqvist & Marko Ahvenainen

WISE funders at the Academy of Finland logos

Dynamic Museum and Heritage Futures Workshop as instruments for ecological reconstruction (DYNAMO)

Further information: Katriina Siivonen

Futures Literacy across the Deep (FLxDeep)

FLxDeep is a six-partner initiative led by Finland Futures Research Centre at Turku School of Economics – University of Turku in cooperation with futures literacy experts at UNESCO.

It is funded by EIT Climate KIC and aims to co-create and implement processes that introduce, develop and actively apply the capability called futures literacy to support climate-related social, business, and technological innovation.

> Read more about the project.

Further information: Nicolas A. Balcom Raleigh

Impact of the pandemic on the use of leisure services and facilities

The Turku Urban Research Program, Finland Futures Research Centre, The School of Architecture at the University of Tampere and The Urban Research and Statistics Unit at Helsinki City Executive Office are collaborating on a research project on the long- and short-term effects of the Covid19 pandemic on the use of public urban leisure services and facilities. 

The leisure services provided by cities (sports, libraries, culture, museums, theaters, concerts, youth services, etc.) and the associated variety of public spaces play an important role in the social life of the city and as enablers of community. However, the coronavirus pandemic has changed people’s behavior, such as the number and ways in which services are used, both because of the restrictions and recommendations of the authorities and because of people’s own judgment and fears. For example, libraries are still used to borrow physical material, but their position as shared living rooms for city dwellers has weakened, at least temporarily, and even broken for a limited period as restrictions tightened. Only a few people ventured into theater, concerts and exhibitions, even under more lenient restrictions. The use of sports venues has also had to be restricted. The requirement for acceptable loose space has been different in varying pandemic conditions. 

Changes in use, both in services and in the spaces traditionally used to produce them, pose a wide range of challenges for both users and urban organizations. People, clubs, associations and companies have had to change their operations and perhaps some activities are changing permanently. The facilities have been at least partially underutilized or even unused, with their employees at worst laid off. At the same time, space costs pose challenges. Some of the effects may last for a shorter period of time, some may remain permanent, with a wide range of economic, cultural and social effects. For example, some services, but not all, may be replaced or supplemented digitally. 

This study examines the potential short- and long-term effects of the corona pandemic on leisure services. Both behavioral and usage changes and solutions for the use and design of city-owned (indoor) spaces specifically designed for them are considered. The study surveys the views of service users and employees on the use of leisure services and the public interiors used to provide them in two different pandemic situations (loose and severe constraints) and after a pandemic. In addition, key needs for changes in facilities and services are identified, and proposals for further measures are made. Research methods include user surveys, expert interviews and workshops. 

The study is funded by the leisure sector units of the cities of Turku, Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa, Tampere and Oulu.

Additional information: Senior Research Fellow Sari Puustinen, sari.puustinen@utu.fi, puh. 050 522 4182


RURALIZATION is a 4 years EU-funded project under the Horizon 2020 programme, focused on the study of problems related to rural regeneration and access to land, and the implementation of policies and activities that facilitate the entry of new generations and newcomers to the farming sector.

The consortium is composed of 18 partners from 12 different countries. This diversity will guarantee a wide range of perspectives and situations, creating a wealth of knowledge positive for the participants and the interested third parties.

The main challenges that the projects must deal are:

  1. The unequal development of urban and rural areas. The unbalanced development of growing urban areas and declining rural areas is one threat for the cohesion of the European territory. Data is clearly demonstrating this trend: population growth is expected for urban areas (12% between 2014 and 2050) whereas a decline of 7% is expected for rural areas for the same period.
  2. The difference in gross domestic product (GDP) per capita. The 2014 figures show that in urban regions the GDP/P was € 34,179, in intermediate regions was € 23,726 GDP/P and in rural regions was € 19,104 GDP/P.
  3. The concentration of landownership. The issue of access of new generations and newcomers to the farming sector is caused by a landownership highly concentrated. In 2013, 52,2% of EU agricultural land was controlled by only 3,1% of the farms and, the 76,2% smallest farms cultivate only 11,2% of the EU land.
  4. The aging of the rural population. Most farmers are above 55 years of age and only few farmers are below 35 years of age. If it isn't corrected, this trend may pose a problem in the future as there will isn't enough workforce in rural areas that will work in agriculture.
  5. The insufficient opportunities for new generations in rural areas. The EU has allocated € 9.6 billion between 2007 and 2020 as specific aid to young farmers to improve competitiveness and generational renewal. But these funds lack of scope for application and the farming population continues ageing.

Of the seven different work packages of the project, the FFRC is responsible for the foresight study on the topic. The project will run from 1.5.2019 to 30.4.2023.

Further information: Tuomas Kuhmonen & Pertti Ruuska



Signals of Change in Research 

This project – commissioned by the Finnish Union of University Professors – gathers futures knowledge and futures signals on the development of research, higher education and societal interaction.

The project aims to promote public debate and discussion on the future of research in Finland by highlighting possibilities and elaborating potential future signals. The project report will identify and describe 8–12 interesting and thought-provoking phenomena affecting the future of research. The report analysis in based on a horizon scanning, a survey and two workshops. The report will be completed in October 2021.

Further information: Sanna Ahvenharju

UNESCO Chair: Learning Society & Futures of Education

UNESCO Chair in Learning Society and Futures of Education project is part of the global Futures Literacy network coordinated by UNESCO. The project develops futures education contents and methods for informal and formal education that can be utilized worldwide.

Unesco Chair: Learning Society & Futures of Education

Further information: Markku Wilenius & Laura Pouru

Urban Futures Podcasts

The Urban Futures Podcast is an interdisciplinary knowledge creation platform for the purpose of communicating and spreading research environmental information to build a better future for societies.

Project funding: The Nessling Foundation, 2019.

Website: https://greeningfutures.utu.fi

Further information: Ana Maria Jones & Markku Wilenius


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