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Anita Lehikoinen

Anita Irmeli Lehikoinen
Born April 27, 1959, Riihimäki

MA 1987 (English Philology), University of Helsinki

Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Education and Culture (MEC), 2013-
Director general at the Department for Higher Education and Science Policy in the MEC, 2012–2013
Various duties with higher education and science policy in the MEC, 1989-
English teacher, both hourly and at adult education centres, while attending university

Author of multiple national and international MEC working group reports

Written by Riitta-Ilona Hurmerinta
Translated by Joe McVeigh

‘To be listened to, you have to be seen and heard’

Anita Lehikoinen sees it necessary for the humanist and social studies subjects to continue discussing the validity of their produced research and know-how for societal development.

– Relevance, as I see it, does not mean being subordinate to an outside agenda. The usefulness for society of research results and the information learned is influential. If these fields are concerned about the possible consequential death of civilisation, then it is necessary to act in a way that strives to keep it alive and influence the world.

Lehikoinen emphasises the need to more boldly bring out why and for what humanists are needed and what kind of intellectual capital and know-how they have to offer for society.

– More resources should be directed towards bringing out experts. Everyone benefits from it, including the university. You have to tell why research in the humanities fields is meaningful for the people of Finland and of the entire world. It is also good to show what kinds of work humanists do and where and how they benefit society at least to the same degree as experts in other fields.

Lehikoinen thinks that this kind of information should be distributed in various forums but especially in a language everyone understands.

– Scholars have to talk in a way that common tax-paying citizens understand why they should continue to pay for their work. Decision-makers – in politics, business and other fields alike – must also understand what research results mean and why they are meaningful.

Lehikoinen has followed the amount and nature of public appearances of people from the University of Helsinki with great interest.

– It is always wonderful to see and hear humanities researchers bravely and skilfully analysing various phenomena based on research results. To be listened to, you have to be seen and heard.

Lehikoinen considers it important to be part of an international research community to promote communication and understanding. Information is passed on best on a two-way road.

– High quality education is needed in Finland in all fields. Research enables necessary connections to the international academic community. The problems of Finnish society will not be solved with old-fashioned ideals or by shutting away from the rest of the world. These matters are common and these problems global. The problems of population ageing, development of basic education or climate change cannot be solved solely within Finnish borders. People should think about it like this – when Finnish research produces solutions to Finnish problems, the research is also undoubtedly useful internationally.’

You can’t get very speedy or eventful photos of public office jobs. You’re either standing and talking or sitting and listening. Influencing and getting influenced.


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