Based on an agreement between the University of Helsinki and the City of Helsinki Social Services Department, the Heikki Waris Institute was founded in 2001 as part of the City of Helsinki Social Services Department. Since 2004, the cities of Espoo, Kauniainen and Vantaa have also participated in the Institute’s activities.

The Heikki Waris Institute merged with Socca, the Centre of Expertise on Social Welfare in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area, in 2009. The aim of the merger was to centralise development work resources and to integrate the development of expert work and collaboration with the University of Helsinki. In 2014, Socca became part of the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa (HUS).

You can find Aulikki Kananoja’s presentation on the background of the Heikki Waris institute here.


Who was Heikki Waris?

Heikki Waris (1901–1989) was an influential social figure and the first person at the University of Helsinki and in the whole of Finland to hold a permanent professorship in social policy (from 1948 to 1968). The first teaching position in social work was also established at the University in his time. Heikki Waris’ own experiences at the Kalliola Settlement, together with his personal contacts to the working population there, strongly influenced his social thinking and societal activities.

Further information: Repo, Saara & Repo, Ville (2011) Ensimmäinen varis joka lensi Altantin yli – Heikki Waris sosiaalipolitiikan uranuurtajana.