Development Studies
Box 18, FI-00014 University of Helsinki, Finland
E-mail: anja.nygren[at]

Current employment relationships:

  • Professor of Development Studies, University of Helsinki
  • Affiliated Professor of Helsinki Sustainability Center (HELSUS)
  • Director of “Political, Societal and Regional Changes” (PSRC) Doctoral Programme, University of Helsinki
  • Adjunct Professor of Political Ecology, University of Tampere
  • Adjunct Professor of Environmental Policy, University of Helsinki
  • Honoured Member of the Teachers’ Academy, University of Helsinki

Academic Degrees:

Ph.D. Cultural Anthropology, University of Helsinki, Finland, Dec. 1995. Title: ‘Forest, power and development: Costa Rican peasants in the changing environment’. Grading: Eximia cum laude approbatur (3-/3). The Opponent of the dissertation: Prof. Arturo Escobar, University of Massachusetts, USA.

M.A. Cultural Anthropology, Univ. of Helsinki, May 1988.

Adjunct Professorships (Docents):

Adjunct Professor of Political Ecology, Dept. of Regional Studies/Environmental Policy, University of Tampere, 2004.

Adjunct Professor of Environmental Policy in Developing Countries, Dept. of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Helsinki, 2001.

Research topics:

Political ecology, environmental anthropology, Latin America, environmental justice, urban governance, risks and vulnerabilities, disasters and displacements resource politics, urban ethnography, socio-nature, fair trade, coffee and cacao, conservation and society, people-forest relations, local knowledge.

Research areas:

Mexico, Mekong Region, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, French Antilles

Most important posts and full-time positions:

Sept 2013-Aug 2014
Research Fellow, Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies,University of Helsinki.

Aug. 2004 – July 2000
Research Fellow of the Academy of Finland (akatemiatutkija), Environmental Science and Policy, University of Helsinki.

Aug. 2003 – July 2004
Research Scholar of the Academy of Finland, Environmental Science and Policy, Univ. of Helsinki.

Jan 2003 – July 2003
Research Assistant Professor, Dept. of Rural Sociology, University of Missouri-Columbia, USA.

Aug 2000 – Dec 2002
Research Scholar of the Academy of Finland, Institute of Development Studies, University of Helsinki. Visiting Scholar at the University of Missouri-Columbia, USA.

Aug 1997 – July 2000
Postdoctoral Researcher of the Academy of Finland, Dept. of Anthropology, University of Helsinki.

Apr 1996 – July 1997
Research Scholar of the Academy of Finland, Dept. of Anthropology, Univ. of Helsinki.

Jan 1993 – Dec 1994
Research Scholar of the Academy of Finland, Dept. of Anthropology, University of Helsinki.

Jan 1991 – Dec 1992
Research Scholar of the Academy of Finland, Visiting Scholar at the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE), Costa Rica.

Acknowledgments and awards:

Honoured member of the Teachers’ Academy of the University of Helsinki – Network of teachers recognized for their merits in the development of teaching, since 2013.

Finalist in the Rabel J. Burdge and Donald R. Field Outstanding Article Award, based on Wayessa G & Nygren A 2016. Whose decisions, whose livelihoods? Society & Natural Resources 29(4): 387-402.

Award of excellent teacher (Hyvän opetuksen –palkinto), University of Helsinki, 2011.

Award of excellent M.Sc. thesis supervision, Faculty of BioSciences, Univ. of Helsinki, 2006.

Nomination for the candidate of Eino Kaila Award for excellent teaching skills, Univ. of Helsinki, in 2009, 2010 and 2012.

Recent project management:

Academy of Finland, Water and vulnerability in fragile societies. 2018-2022. Leader of the Consortium project, 1 000 000 €.

Kone Foundation, Water and fire: Volatile ecologies and politics of vulnerabilization, 2018-2022. Project leader, 153 000 €.

Academy of Finland, A Planning Board Member and a Proposal Writing Group Member in the Profi-3 proposal to the Academy of Finland for Helsinki Sustainability Center. Total funding approved for SSC & INAR: 15 000 000 €.

Academy of Finland, Fragile cities in the global South: Societal security, environmental safety and representative justice, 2016-2020. Project leader, 489 000 €.

University of Helsinki, Start-up funding for new full professors, 2016-2019; 15 000 €.

PYAM-Doctoral program, University of Helsinki, Resource Conflicts and Resource Governance, 2015, UNiPID, Finnish University Partnerships for International Development. Travel Grant for PhD Students, 2016. Total funding: 6 300 €.

University of Helsinki, Environmental Vulnerability, Social Resilience and Multi-Scale Governance. Project leader. Total funding: 420 000 €, 2015–2018.

Academy of Finland, New forms of environmental governance. Project Leader. 2011–2014. Academy of Finland, Ministry of Environment, Tabasco, Mexico. Total funding: 500 000 €.

University of Helsinki, Teacher’s Academy, Funding for new pedagogical initiatives. Project leader. Total funding: 50 000 €, 2013–2015.

Academy of Finland, Decentralization, forest certification and community forestry in Central America. Project Leader. 2004–2009. Total: 350 000 €.

University of Helsinki, 3-year research project, Decentralization, forest certification and community forestry in Central America. Project Leader. 2004–2006. Total: 100 000 €.

Teaching and supervision:

Recent lecture courses: Political ecology, Environment and politics, environment and development, Introduction for MSc Studies, Globalization, Advanced qualitative methods, PhD Seminar, Master Thesis Seminar

Approbatur studies (25 credits) in University Pedagogy, 2005, University of Helsinki. Grading of the studies: Excellent. Special work: Supervision, grading: Excellent.

Grading of teaching skills in official teaching examination, Dept. of Environmental Policy, University of Tampere, 2004: Excellent skills.

10 completed doctoral dissertations supervised, 7 doctoral dissertations currently under supervision.

Official opponent of 20 PhD dissertations, official pre-examinator of 9 PhD dissertations.

Scientific expert positions:

Director of the Doctoral Progarm of Political, Societal and Regional Changes (PSRC), University of Helsinki, 2017-2022

Board member of the Doctoral Progarm of Political, Societal and Regional Changes (PSRC), University of Helsinki, 2013-2017.

Member of the Evaluation Committee for Research Project Applications, Swedish Research Council, in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2018.

Member of Steering Group, Helsinki Sustainability Center (HELSUS), University of Helsinki, 2018-2023.

Member of the Planning Board, Helsinki Sustainability Center, UH, 2016-2017.

Director of the Societal Change Bachelor Programme, UH, 2016.

Steering Group Member in International MA Programme “Contemporary Societies”, UH, 2016.

Steering Group Member in MA Programme of Environmental Change and Global Sustainability 2016.

Member of the Steering Group, Helsinki University Taita-Research Station in Kenya, 2017->

Member of the Scientific Advisory Board, UH Environmental Research Network (HENVI), 2014-2016.

Discipline Chair, Development Studies, Univ. of Helsinki 2013-2014, 2015 – 2017

Member of Teaching Planning Committee, Social Sciences, UH, 2014-2017.

Member of Research and Postgraduate Training Committee, Social Sciences, UH, 2010-2014.

Organization and/or teaching in 18 PhD Training courses related to Development Studies in 2005-2018.

Scientific Adviser and Social Science Advisory Board Member of International Foundation for Science, Sweden, since Jan. 2006.

Research application reviewing for the Research Council of Norway in 2004 and 2006, for International Foundation for Science, Sweden in 2005-2011, and for Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011.

Invited member in the external evaluation panel of the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (UMB), March 2005. Evaluation of the three MSc-Degree Programmes: 1) Management of Natural Resources and Sustainable Agriculture 2) Development Studies, and 3) Development and Resource Economics. The other team members were Prof. Ian Coxhead (Univ. of Wisconsin) and Prof. Michael Stocking (Univ. of East Anglia).

Member of the Editorial Board: 1) Journal of Environmental Values; 2) Society and Natural Resources; 3) Regions and Cohesions; 4) Forum for Development Studies; and 5) Kehitys.

Peer-reviews for 40 international scientific journals, including: 1) Agriculture and Human Values 2) Biodiversity and Conservation 3) Conservation and Society 4) Current Anthropology 5) Development and Change 6) Ecological Applications 7) Ecological Economics 8) Environmental Conservation 9) Environmental Economics 10) Environment and Planning 11) Environmental Policy and Planning 12) Environmental Science & Policy 13) Environmental Sociology 14) Environmental Values 15) Ethnography 16) Fennia 17) Finnish Anthropology 18) Forest & Conservation History 19) Forest Policy and Economics 20) Geoforum 21) Global Environmental Change 22) Human Ecology 23) Human Organization 24) International Journal of Public Administration 25) International Journal of Water Resources Development 26) Journal of Agrarian Change 27) Journal of Ecological Anthropology 28) Journal of Environment and Development 29) Journal of Environmental Management 30) Journal of Latin American Studies 31) Journal of Peasant Studies 32) Journal of Rural Studies 33) Philippine Agricultural Scientist 34) Political Geography 35) Recursos Naturales y Ambiente 36) Silva Fennica 37) Social Anthropology 38) Society & Natural Resources 39) Sustainability 40) World Development.


Peer-reviewing of a book manuscript for North Caroline Press, USA. Invited for a book manuscript peer-reviewing for McGill-Queens University Press, Canada.

Invited book reviews for Development and Change, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Political Geography and Sosiologia. Three invited commentaries for Current Anthropology.

Member in the advisory board of publishing the book ‘Rethinking development in a carbon-constrained world’ (Ed. E. Palosuo), Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Finland, 2009.

Coordinator of international Issues related to research and teaching, Environmental Sciences, University of Helsinki, 2004-2009.

Member of the Committee for evaluating teaching skills, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Helsinki, years 2010-2013.

Official examinator of Adjunct Professorship application, Social Policy, University of Helsinki, 2011.

Member of the steering committee for fulfilling a full Professorship post, Development Studies, Univ. of Helsinki, 2012, an Associate Professor post, Forestry, Univ. of Copenhagen in 2011 and 2009; an Associate Professor post, Development Studies, Univ. of Helsinki in 2011 and in 2009, and Associate Professor post, International Politics, University of Helsinki, 2012; a Post-doc position, Forestry, University of Copenhagen in 2008, and an Associate Professorship in Environmental Science and Policy, University of Helsinki, 2006.

Participation in a pedagogical pilot project organized by the Faculty of Social Sciences, Univ. of Helsinki, for developing alternative forms for students’ literature exams, 2009-2012.

Invited Commentator in Alternative Political Ecologies -symposium, 72. Annual Congress of Society for Applied Anthropologist, Baltimore, USA, 27-31.3.2012.

Invited guest lecturer in Political Ecology PhD Training course, together with Prof. Jesse Ribot, Prof. Christian Lund and Prof. Timothy Forsyth, University of Copenhagen, Denmark, 04-08.06.2012.

Invited International Committee Member for the International Association for Society and Natural Resources, Conference on Natural Resource Development and Conservation (ISSRM) 2011, Malaysia.

Invited guest lecturer in Ecología política y movimientos sociales en América Latina Research Seminar, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM-CRIM), Mexico, 25-27.10.2010.

Invited guest lecturer in the Case Study Research Seminar, University of Copenhagen, Denmark, 14-15.01.2010.

Invited guest lecturer at the international PhD Course on Decentralized Natural Resources Management, together with Prof. Jesse Ribot, University of Copenhagen, 13-16.5.2008.

Coordinator of Research Conference Development, Knowledge and Academic Partnerships, 12-14.02.2009, Univ. of Helsinki. Organizer of Research Conference Development, Justice, Governance: New Challenges in the Global South, 24-25.4.2008, Univ. of Helsinki.

Chair of Symposium Development and Environmental Imaginaries in XXIII International Congress of Latin American Studies Association (LASA), 6-8.9.2001, Washington D.C, USA.

Coordinator of the Symposium Social Aspects of Deforestation in Latin America in 13th International Congress of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (ICAES), 29.7‑5.8.1993, Mexico City, Mexico.

Invited keynote speaker in a Workshop for Municipal Presidents of Tábasco, 14.3.2008, Villahermosa, Mexico. Title of presentation: ‘Gobernabilidad Ambiental’.

Invited keynote speaker in Spatial and Social Natures: New Topographies of Local-Global Change -Postgraduate Seminar, 23-25.05.2007, Univ. of Joensuu. Titles: ‘Theoretical and methodological challenges of research on glocal forms of environmental governance’ and ‘Values chains of certified forest products as networks of negotiation and power’.

Invited keynote speaker in the International Conference Small and Medium Forest Enterprise Development for Poverty Reduction: Opportunities and Challenges in Globalizing Markets, 23-26.05.2006, CATIE/FAO/CIFOR, Costa Rica. Title: ‘Role of Commercial Forestry in Rural Livelihoods’.

Invited keynote speaker in International Symposium of Sustainable Development: Different Views, Informed Decisions, 17-18.11.2005, Villahermosa, Mexico. Title: ‘Stakeholder Analysis in Sustainable Natural Resources Management’.

Invited keynote speaker Initiatives, Dialogues and Controversies in Implementing Sustainable Development -Postgraduate Training Seminar, 01-02.10.2005, Jyväskylä, Finland. Title: ‘Current Challenges of Participatory Research Strategies’.

Invited keynote speaker in International Post-Graduate Training Seminar Intervention, Local Politics and the State, 14-16.08.2003, Lammi, Finland. Title: ‘The Political Ecology of Community Forestry within the Institutional Context of Decentralization’.

Invited guest speaker at Workshop on Environment, Culture, and Development: Interdisciplinary Approaches, 23-25.09.2002, University of Gothenburg, Sweden. Title: ‘Conflicts over Nature Protection and Social Justice’.

Most important scientific positions of trust and administration:

Project leader, research project on Urban environmental goverance in southern cities, funded by the Academy of Finland, 01.01.2011-31.12.2014.

Project leader, research project on Forest certifications, decentralization and community forestry in Central America,  funded by the Academy of Finland, 01.08.2004-31.07.2009.

Project leader, research projecton Forest certifications, decentralization and community forestry in Central America funded by the University of Helsinki, 01.01.2004-31.12.2006.

Chair of Finnish Graduate School for Development Studies, 2012.

Chair of the Finnish Society for Development Research in 2006-2008.

Consultant, Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, Central American Forestry Program. Consultancy on community forestry and conflict management in Honduras 02-05/2003.

Consultant, Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, Environmental Program of Nicaragua-Finlandia, 03/1999 and 08/1999. Consultancy on participatory planning and gender issues.

Consultant, Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA), ‘Sustainable Development in the Municipality of El Castillo, Nicaragua’, 03–04/1998. Topic: Protected area management and local livelihoods.

Most important foreign visits:

March-Abril 2017, Visiting Resarcher, Sociology of Development and Change, University of Wageningen, the Netherlands.

March-Abril 2014
Visiting Scholar, School of Architecture, Urban Planning, University of Texas-Austin, USA.March-Abril 2014

October 2010
Visiting Researcher, Universidad Autónoma de México (UNAM), México.

March 2008
Visiting Scholar, Universidad Juarez Autónoma de Tabasco, Villahermosa, México.

Oct – Nov 2005
Visiting Researcher, University of Florida, Gainesville, USA.

Jan 2003 – July 2003
Research Assistant Professor, Rural Sociology, Univ. of Missouri-Columbia, USA.

Sep 2000 – Dec 2002
Visiting Scholar, School of Natural Resources, Univ. of Missouri-Columbia, USA.

Apr – May 2000
Visiting Fellow, Goldsmiths College, Univ. of London, UK.

May – June 1998
Visiting Scholar, United Nations’ Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD), Geneva, Switzerland.

June 1996 – May 1997
Visiting Researcher, Univ. of Central America, Nicaragua.

Jan 1990 – Dec 1992
Visiting Researcher, Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE), Costa Rica.

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