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yrjö haila master’s thesis award 2021

Julia Sangervo from the University of Tampere has been awarded the Yrjö Haila Award for Master’s Thesis, handed out by The Finnish Society for Environmental Social Science (YHYS). Sangervo’s thesis in psychology titled “Ilmastoahdistus ja ilmastotoivo – tunteiden yhteys ilmastotoimiin”, examines how emotions raised by climate change are linked to climate actions. The thesis was supervised by professor Kalevi Korpela and researcher Panu Pihkala.

In her thesis, Sangervo uses quantitative methods and utilizes Sitra’s survey data (n=2070) to answer 1) whether the negative and positive emotions raised by climate change (climate anxiety and climate hope) are interrelated to the probability to act on climate change and 2) do climate anxiety and climate hope account for the climate actions better together or individually and if individually, 3) which of the emotions account for the climate actions more strongly. As a result, Sangervo states that the more respondents experienced climate anxiety and hope, the more they did climate actions. Climate actions can be seen as a way to handle emotions raised by a changing climate.

The selection committee considers that Sangervo’s thesis explores the societally relevant issue with an exemplary research design. The data and methods of the thesis are described transparently and the thesis forms a coherent whole. The topic of the thesis is timely, addresses a multidisciplinary research audience, and provides practical solutions.

For this year’s Yrjö Haila Award for Master’s Thesis, YHYS received 20 dissertations from 6 universities and 15 different fields of research. The selection committee consisted of Kamilla Karhunmaa and Senja Laakso from University of Helsinki and Anni Turunen from University of Jyväskylä. The winner was announced in a dinner organized in conjunction with the YHYS colloquium: Sustainable Welfare in Helsinki on 25.11.2021. The prize was Tim Harford’s book How to Make World Add Up. chosen by professor Yrjö Haila. In his speech, Haila emphasised the importance of methodological considerations and strong cross-diciplinarity of environmental social science, both reflected strongly in Sangervo’s study.

Julia Sangervo’s thesis can be read from here.