Challenging ‘common sense’ at Nordic youth conference

“This is an excellent opportunity for us to share our research and exchange knowledge with an active and engaged group of Nordic youths,” says Fritjof Sahlström, JustEd team leader and Professor, Åbo Akademi.

Professor Fritjof Sahlström, Åbo Akademi

Together with several top researchers from the JustEd centre, Fritjof will lead a special 7 hour long workshop on social justice and social inclusion in education at the Nordic youth conference Sillat-Broar-Bridges in Helsinki 26–28 September. At the conference youths, researchers from different fields, civil servants, teachers and youth workers discuss and work together to enhance circumstances of youth in the Nordic countries.

The conference is arranged by The Nordic Committee for Children and Young People (NORDBUK), the Ministry of Education and Culture and youth organisations and concentrates on the future of the youth policy of the Nordic Council of Ministers and children’s and young people’s participation and prevention of marginalisation.

“We want to challenge and change what has been considered as common sense in schools and in society,” says researcher Pia Mikander, University of Helsinki, “we want to inspire the participants to think about the production of norms, identities and forms of knowledge in an analytical and critical way.”

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Researcher Ida Hummelstedt-Djedou, University of Helsinki

Approximately 40 initiated young people from all the Nordic countries are participating in the JustEd workshop, which is divided into three smaller groups.


Pia, Fritjof and Ida Hummelstedt-Djedou, University of Helsinki, are looking forward to engaging their group in how norms, identities and forms of knowledge are produced and reproduced, in school classrooms as well as in society at large.

“In our workshop we will study videos from schools and discuss where different kinds of categorizations takes place,” says Pia.

Sexual and gender diversity

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Researcher Jón Ingvar Kjaran, University of Iceland

In one of the three smaller groups the discussions will center on sexual and gender diversity from the perspecitve of young people and education and youth work. The group is led by JustEd members Jón Ingvar Kjaran, University of Iceland, and Jukka Lehtonen, University of Helsinki.

“We will discuss the importance of understanding the disadvantaged position of lesbian, gay, bisexual, intersex, asexual and trans youth (LGBTQ+) in our culture and in society as a whole,” says Jón.

Sexual and gender diversity are treated differently in education in different Nordic countries.

“We will talk about the gap between the rather progressive LGBTQ+ policies and the reality in the schools,” adds Jón,”and how we can bridge this gap and make things better in both schools and youth work for all young people despite of their sexual orientation and gender identity.”


Time for change

In the workshop’s third small group the theme is disability and societal exclusion.

Senior Researcher Katariina Hakala, FAIDD.

“We will intvite participants to experience and discuss segregation and exclusion of people with learning disabilities,” says senior researcher Katariina Hakala, The Finnish Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (FAIDD).

Katariina leads the group together with her colleague at FAIDD, Simo Klem, and researchers Aarno Kauppila and Anna-Maija Niemi, University of Helsinki.

“We take the disability rights discourse as the main perspective of our workshop based on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This convention has been ratified by the Nordic countries, except Iceland,” Katariina says.

This group will examine the strong tendencies in the well-meaning, societal and institutional structures of education, health and social services to segregate and exclude people with learning disabilities from “ordinary life”.

Read more about Katariina’s studies here.

Find out more about the conference here.



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About the Author

About the Author: Journalist currently working as Communications Specialist at the Nordic Centre of Excellence "Justice through Education in the Nordic countries" and in NordForsk's programme "Education for Tomorrow". .


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