The CSSM is located on the University of Helsinki’s city centre campus, at Unioninkatu 35 (2nd floor), Faculty of Social Sciences. The main entrance to the building is from Yrjö-Koskisen katu.
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The University of Helsinki website offers more information on locating the campus and other practical information for when you visit the University.
The University of Helsinki is the largest and oldest academic institution in Finland and one of the leading multidisciplinary universities in the world. The University of Helsinki is continuously ranked among the top 100 universities in the world and the top 30 universities in Europe.
The CSSM research hub is based at the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Helsinki, however, the Centre’s work is interdisciplinary in nature and international in scope, and therefore aims to include other disciplines and institutions within its’ network.
Research in the fields of climate change, health and medicine, and technology at the University are other related fields where interdisciplinary, international work and collaboration are taking place.
Helsinki is the capital city of Finland and the largest city in Finland (over 650,000 people). It is also the third largest in the Nordic countries, and is relatively diverse with over 16% of residents speaking a mother tongue other than Finnish, Swedish, or Sami. Over 40% of the city is urban green space, and the city is in close proximity to other areas of natural interest (such as Nuuksio National Park, Kuusijärvi lake, and over 300 islands). Helsinki has a variety of arts and cultural venues and events all year-round, such as the Ateneum art museum, Flow music festival, Design museum, and Lux arts festival of light. The city is easy to navigate and has a highly effective public transport system of metro, tram, bus and train lines that have been ranked second best among European cities, while the city itself also ranks highly in international urban living standards¹ ². The City of Helsinki’s strategy for 2021-2025 is to cultivate the city as a Place of Growth, which includes expanding access and equity in education, opening Helsinki up more to international business and workers, growing in line with 2030 carbon neutral objectives, and more.
Finland is known for its gender equality and egalitarian social organisation. This is reflected in its political organisation and leadership, human rights (including labour rights and rights of minorities), welfare services, and in how universities are organised both in teaching and research. Finnish education is deemed among the best in the world, and the population is among the most educated by global comparison1. The country’s egalitarian and low-hierarchy culture is also reflected in the Centre’s organisational model of the slime mould; implementing the slime mould model of decentralised organisation emphasises collaboration and inclusivity in our epistemic practices and research work.
Located in north Helsinki on the northside of one of the city’s inlet bays, I especially love to visit the Viikki nature area, especially the bird watching towers there. The surrounding forests between the towers make for a beautiful walk, and you can easily spot deer, foxes, and hares (and slightly less easily, the hidden world of badgers, stoats, and raccoon dogs).
My favourite things to do in Helsinki include swimming on the beaches throughout the year. My favourite beaches are in East Helsinki but basically one can swim pretty much wherever one can find an open spot on the rocks, sand stretches etc. Winter swimming facilities with heated changing rooms are available through winter swimming societies and in pay-to-enter saunas across town but a free public ‘avanto’ (hole in the ice) with a sauna is available for example at Sompasauna. For the hardy ones, all public beaches that have avantos have unheated changing cubicles free of cost. A list of winter swimming spots maintained by societies can be found here.
It is so accessible and easy to reach, being right in the city center and close to train and bus stations.
I also love to go to Suomenlinna, Harakansaari and other islands in Helsinki. Many are accessible by ferry from the city centre during the summer season.
Cycle camping near and far from Helsinki:
As an avid cyclist and lover of nature my favourite thing to do is go cycle camping (i.e. cycle touring or bike packing). Everywhere is quite beautiful and interesting – from rolling farmland and random countryside flea markets and cafes, to dirt logging roads where it’s just you and forest for miles. Finding quiet and safe roads outside cities is relatively easy if you stick to the smaller roads, and Finland has many well-maintained and equipped camping sites (incl. firewood and dry/compost toilets) and you can also wild camp (see Jokamiehen oikeudet or ‘Everyman’s rights’). There are many resources, but I’ll point out South by Cycle and Laavu.org (a map of ‘lean-to’s’ around Finland).
This movie theatre shows two-three movies every day, usually from the archive of the National Audiovisual Institute. Combines classics, cult cinema, B movies and contemporary cinema. Movies shown are always worth watching. Prices are the cheapest, and even cheaper if you become a member. I love going there on a free evening and just watch two movies in a row. The theatre is located in the Oodi library, which is a special place of its own. Helsinki itself has many other wonderful cinemas, such as Kino Orion, WHS Teatteri Union, etc. and many film festivals throughout the year too, such as Rakkautta ja Anarkiaa (‘Love and Anarchy’), DocPoint, and many more!
Few public libraries offer what Helsinki libraries do, loaning books, movies, comics, music, board games, videogames and even park games (badminton, petanque, mölkky). Many also have all kinds of public services like sewing machines, 3D printers, video consoles and a range of music facilities, including rehearsal spaces, recording studio and instrument loans.
I love this bookshop because of its character! It has an eclectic selection of books, many in English, but many other languages too. But the main thing is the space – it’s not just a bookshop – it also holds many rooms where there are art exhibitions, book clubs, concerts, etc. They even have a pool table! And a chapel! Whenever I go, the owners always offer me a cup of tea. This place and many other small, independent establishments in Helsinki (from paper shops to bike shops to vintage eyeglasses shops) I really enjoy and appreciate visiting.
There are calls multiple times per year for visiting fellows, an artist residency, and international seminars. One can also participate in our Helsinki-based workshops, seminars, and PhD schools. If you are based in Helsinki, to join the Centre, just come to one of our events, get to know us, and get engaged in microbes and more!