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My PhD students

List of doctoral students under my supervision:

Please feel free to contact them!


Saija Benjamin (Helsinki)

Saija Benjamin is a PhD candidate at the University of Helsinki’s Department of Teacher Education. Through her research on internationally mobile youth, she examines concepts of belonging, identity, home and mobility within migration from a more glocalized perspective: she’s interested in how mobile people deal with the constant mixing of the global and the local and how do they construct meaning around belonging within continuously changing life worlds. In her data collection and analysis Benjamin has been inspired and guided by the IPA approach (interpretative phenomenological analysis). Apart from her own research, Benjamin is active in two organizations dealing with multicultural/multilingual families. She also experiences the multiple facets of transnationalism and interculturalism within her own globetrotter family.


Minghui Gao (Helsinki)

Minghui Gao is currently a doctoral student at the Department of Teacher Education, Faculty of Behavioral Sciences, University of Helsinki. After completed her Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Master’s degree in Baltic Sea Region Studies (Master of Arts), Gao started her doctoral studies at the University of Helsinki under the supervision of Professor Fred Dervin and Dr. Anja Lahtinen (at the Confucius Institute at the University of Helsinki). Gao’s doctoral dissertation aims to explore the realities and perceptions of Chinese language and culture education in Finland by looking into Finnish and Chinese discourses on teaching Chinese in the Finnish context. In addition, her research interests also include intercultural communication in the media, multicultural discourses and intercultural couplehood.


Anu Härkönen (Helsinki)

Anu Härkönen is a doctoral student at the Department of Teacher Education at the University of Helsinki since 2012. Her research is an ethnography which focuses on the impact of international activities at higher professional education. The primary objective of her study is to explore how students and staff on campus and employees at companies and organisations in the Turku region perceive and experience glocality in their everyday life through the implementation of international activities at Turku University of Applied Sciences (TUAS). She is interested in what happens at the interface of global and local exposure when students, teachers/staff and local people experience glocality on various sites both on-campus and off-campus. Anu works as International Relations Manager at TUAS. She has been working in different positions in the field of international education for over 15 years and she has a wide experience of coordinating and developing international activities at HEIs, such as international curricula cooperation and double degree agreements, EU projects, development of language and cultural studies, and teaching in foreign languages.

Email: anu.harkonen(at), anu.harkonen(at)

Tuija Itkonen (Helsinki)

Tuija Itkonen’s multidisciplinary doctoral research interests include critical interculturality, social categorization, identities, and teacher communication. She holds a Master’s degree in education (primary teacher & English teacher) with a minor in Multicultural Education from Helsinki University (2010). She also holds a Master’s and a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts (USA). From 2012 on Tuija has been involved with YES – Equality is Priority project, coordinated by Finland’s Ministry of the Interior and co-financed by the EU Program for Employment and Social Solidarity – PROGRESS (2007–2013).  She produces on-line educational material for in-service and student teachers to raise awareness and to promote acceptance of diversity and equal treatment, and to combat discrimination in schools. Her lectures reach a variety of audiences and she provides training on pedagogical approaches to promote non-discrimination in schools. Tuija’s previous employment includes a research position at Palmenia, Helsinki University Center for Continuing Education (2011-2012). Her research focused on the intercultural competence of upper secondary vocational teachers. Previously, she has taught in several primary schools (both Finnish and bilingual) in the capital area of Helsinki. Currently she holds a teaching position as a primary teacher at the European Schooling Helsinki.



Mika Launikari (Helsinki)

Mr Mika Launikari holds a Master’s Degree in Economics and Business Administration (1993). Since 2014 he is a PhD Candidate in the Faculty of Behavioural Sciences at the University of Helsinki. His doctoral research deals with International Mobility Capital (IMC) and aims at finding out, what are the benefits and assets that career mobility generates to experts who work abroad. The specific research question is, how International Mobility Capital can be defined, conceptualized and understood based on the narrative biographies of altogether 20 staff members of four European Union agencies (i.e. 5 staff members from each agency incl. Cedefop, Eurofound, ETF, OSHA). Moreover, for more than 20 years Mika has been working in the areas of lifelong learning, sustainable employment, international mobility and guidance. Within the EU and the Finnish policy and strategy context he has been involved in cross-sectoral network-based collaboration, academic and applied research, EU-funded project cooperation, development of guidance services and training modules. As an author and editor of publications, research reports and articles and as a presenter at numerous national and international conferences he has strongly contributed to internationalization of education, training and working life in Europe.

Mika’s personal website ; LinkedIn profile ; Email or


– Laura Miettinen (Sibelius Academy)

I am a doctoral student in music education at the Sibelius Academy, University of the Arts, Helsinki. I hold two master’s degrees: Master of Music in Music Education from the Sibelius Academy in 2006 and Master of Arts in Sociology from the University of Birmingham (UK) in 2009. In my doctoral dissertation, Intercultural Competences in Music Teacher Education Programmes: Co-constructed Discourses amongst Teacher Educators in Finland and Israel, I examine how discourses on intercultural competences amongst music teacher educators in two countries are constructed and how teacher education programmes respond to the needs of teacher educators and future music teachers regarding these competences. This case study also considers how new knowledge on music teacher education could be created by collaboratively reflecting on these discourses. The research data of the study consists of curricula and both individual and focus group interviews of music teacher educators of the chosen music teacher education programmes. Data will be analysed and interpreted by using theoretical reading analysis, Foucauldian discourse analysis and cross-case reflection as methodological tools. As practitioner research that aims for co-creation and sharing of knowledge, the study will consider how a more collaborative, interculturally competent and mobile music teacher education could be developed based on its findings. As a whole, the findings of the study will make the ways of thinking and the content of teaching regarding multicultural and intercultural issues in music teacher education more conscious. The study will deepen understanding and develop practical tools for tackling issues of cultural diversity in teacher education and music classrooms at the context-specific national and international levels.


Pia-Maria Niemi (Helsinki)

Pia-Maria Niemi has started her doctoral thesis project at the Department of Teacher Education, University of Helsinki, in January 2013. Her doctoral thesis study looks at pupils’ perceptions on how school events and practices support pupils’ sense of belongingness to the local as well as global communities.  Her study focuses on school celebrations and theme days and identifies elements of social inclusion as well as elements of exclusion supported by these events. The main focus of Pia-Maria’s study is to find out how school celebrations are perceived by lower-secondary school pupils. Special attention is given on pupils thoughts about the ways cultures are discussed and represented in these events, and how pupils understand the notion of interculturality in their lives, and in contemporary schools. The study asks pupils to define and reflect upon their own cultural identity and how it relates and affects their identity as a member of the school community. Pia-Maria’s study seeks to provide lower-secondary schools with new alternatives to organize celebrations in an intercultural way that enhances the social equality and participation of all kinds of pupils. Pia-Maria is currently doing her doctoral thesis study with a scholarship from the Finnish Cultural Foundation. She is a member in the research projects Education for Diversities (E4D), and Encountering Diversity in Education (EDEN) that are conducted at the Department of Teacher Education, University of Helsinki. Her doctoral thesis project also contributes to the Nordic Centre of Excellence’s Justice Through Education program. Pia-Maria gained her master’s degree from the Faculty of Theology, University of Helsinki, in 2012 and she is also a qualified teacher of religion and psychology.



– Tanja Riikonen (Montréal)


PhD – completed

Céline Tournebise (Turku/Metz, 2013)

Céline Tournebise defended her PhD on intercultural communication education in Finnish higher education at the University of Turku (Finland) and the University of Metz (France) in December 2013. In her work, she maps out different approaches to the ‘intercultural’ that fluctuate in practitioners’ discourses and practices. She is also interested in the concept of identity and its impact on the teaching of the ‘intercultural’. Tournebise has worked in Canada, England, France, Finland, Malta and Poland.

Her doctoral thesis is available HERE

– Véronique Lemoine (Lille, 2014)

Diversités franco-allemandes : Pratiques interculturelles et autonomisantes en didactique des langues étrangères
Thèse de doctorat en sciences de l’éducation, sous la direction de Bertrand Daunay (Université de Lille 3) et de Fred Dervin (Helsinki), soutenue le 4 juillet 2014, université Lille 3 Laboratoire CIREL, équipe Théodile

Valérie Martinez (Paris/Turku, 2016)

Construction de l’Est et de l’Ouest : vers des compétences interculturelles. Un exemple de recherche à Hong-Kong en situation de mobilité académique. (Co-constructing East and West : towards intercultural competences? An example of research on academic mobility in Hong Kong). Turku: Annales Universitatis Turkuensis.

Kaisa Hahl (Helsinki, 2016)

Interculturality and English as a lingua franca – Internationalizing teacher education

Heidi Layne (Helsinki, 2016)

“Contact Zones” in Finnish (intercultural) education

Amin Atabong (Helsinki, 2016)

Is there such a thing…? A study of antiracism education in Finland