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Practising environmental social science: 20 years of contested methodologies

Since its foundation in 1994, the Finnish Society for Environmental Social Science (YHYS) has brought together social scientists from many different scholarly traditions and research organisations. After 20 years, we are still drawing from diverse theoretical backgrounds and making use of different kinds of research strategies. Whilst diversity is an asset, it also provokes questions about the choices through which our research strategies and societal roles take shape and co-evolve.

The 20th YHYS colloquium celebrates the heterogeneity of environmental social sciences by studying the different ways it is possible to make sense of methodological choices and their normative aspects. For example, it is argued that social science methods do policy work; that they perform environmental change. What does this mean and what might it imply for practice? In particular, how do we take on the challenges posed by emerging new methods (big data, data mining) and their popularity?

Whatever the case, it is clear that practising environmental social science means being affected by policy concerns and wider societal pressures. The 20th YHYS colloquium will spark discussion about the ways we can think and act in relation to these diverse demands. Environmental social scientists are often presented as arbitrators to environmental conflicts, moderators between science and society, and co-designers of technical experiments. To what extent, and on what conditions, do we feel at home in these in-between roles? What really are the points of leverage and effective engagement? Or should we try to escape, and to create alternative and perhaps more independent positions? By making the questions explicit the colloquium aims to make room for more and more diverse options and viewpoints.

The Colloquium is open for everyone interested and free for YHYS members. For non-members the fee is 30€, which should be paid directly to account FI95 8000 1770 4407 26 (with message: your name, registration fee to YHYS Colloquium 2014). No other registration is needed. During the colloquium, lunch and coffee will be available in SYKE cafeteria for purchase. A joint buffet dinner will be held in Korjaamo Culture Factory. The dinner is at participants own cost. Please inform you working group conveners if you wish to attend.


November 3rd 2014
Venue: SYKE auditorium

11.00.            Welcome to the 20th anniversary colloquium; Pekka Jokinen, Chair of the YHYS board

11.15.            1st key note session, Dr Aidan While, Sheffield University:
                     Connections: mobilising knowledge in environmental social science

12.15             Lunch, SYKE cafeteria

13.30            2nd key note session, Dr Stephanie Lavau, Plymouth University
                      Biodiversity conservation, environmental social science, and their taxonomies

14.30             Coffee

15.00             Working group sessions, SYKE meeting rooms

17.00             Wine and snacks, served by SYKE/Environmental Policy Centre

18.00             YHYS annual meeting, meeting room Muuttohaukka

19.30             Dinner, Korjaamo Culture Factory (
                        Announcement of the winner of the Yrjö Haila pro-gradu prize 2014

November 4th, 2014
Venue: Meeting room Muuttohaukka, SYKE

9.15               Working group sessions, SYKE meeting rooms

11.30             Lunch, SYKE cafeteria

12.30             3rd Key note session: Dr Matthew Cashmore, Aalborg University Copenhagen
                      The politics of environmental policy: seeing power analytically     

13.30             Coffee

14.00             Programme in Finnish:

Paneelikeskustelu: Metodien vietävänä?

Panelistit: yliassistentti Helena Leino, TaY; Vt. professori Maria Åkerman, UEF; professori Ilmo Massa HY; erikoistutkija Mikko Rask, KTK

Keskustelun johdattelija: Helena Valve, SYKE

15.30             Päätelmiä ja loppusanat
                       Nina Honkela, YHYS:n varapuheenjohtaja

Vektorikuvitus. Kaarevat nuolet muodostavat renkaan.