Keynote Gunilla Holm

Working for social justice and solidarity through research and teaching

Professor of Education; Gunilla Holm, Institute of Behavioural Sciences, University of Helsinki



What does it mean to work for social justice and solidarity as a researcher or university lecturer and how can it be done? In our research and teaching we can foster agency and empowerment as well as empathy. In what ways can we connect our work to the lived experiences of students and teachers? How can we make our research available and accessible to groups who can use it to further their own situation? How can we in return learn about justice issues from the people involved in our research such as marginalized students and migrants? Solidarity and justice require taking responsibility for not only thinking and talking about justice and injustices, but also for taking action. Taking action requires long-term engagement since unfair practices can take years to change.

In this presentation I explore how university researchers, teachers and students can engage in social justice and solidarity issues in their research and teaching as well as through third sector work. The focus will be on what is possible to do as well as how social justice and solidarity work changes us and our work at the university.


Gunilla Holm is professor of education in the Institute of Behavioural Sciences at the University of Helsinki and director of the Nordic Centre of Excellence in Education ‘Justice through Education’. Her research interests are focused on issues in education related to race, ethnicity, class and gender as well as on photography as a research method. Her current research projects include Perceptions and Constructions of Marginalization and Belonging (2013-2016) and Multilingual and Intercultural Education in Finland and Sweden (2015-2017). Her most recent publications include Holm, Londen and Mansikka (2015) Interpreting Visual (and Verbal) Data: Teenagers’ Views on Belonging to a Language Minority Group in Finland, in the International Handbook of Interpretation in Educational Research; Holm (2014); Photography as a Research Method, in The Oxford Handbook of Qualitative Research; Mikander and Holm (2014) Constructing threats and a need for control: textbook descriptions of a growing, moving world population, in Review of International Geographical Education Online; and Holm and Mansikka (2013) Multicultural education as policy and praxis in Finland: Heading in a problematic direction? in Recherches en Education.