Karl-Erik Michelsen
Humanist of the day

Karl-Erik Michelsen

Karl-Erik Michelsen, a professor at Lappeenranta University of Technology, has forged a long and international career in science. His research areas include science, technology and the modern world in which we live. Professor Michelsen sees the humanities as a philosophical approach to life, but they are simultaneously the target of continuous criticism. As a self-confessed academic decathlete, in his research Professor Michelsen strives to cross academic boundaries and influence society at large.

Karl-Erik Michelsen

Karl-Erik (Kalle) Kristian Michelsen
Born May 5, 1957 Ähtäri

Mater of Arts 1984, Licentiate 1993, PhD 1993 (Finnish History), University of Helsinki; Master of Arts 1988 (Sociology of science and technology) University of Pennsylvania

Professor 1993–, Lappeenranta University of Technology
Project director 2000–03, Academy of Finland
Research coordinator 1997–99, Academy of Finland
Associate professor 1995–96, Department of History, University of Helsinki
Docent 1993– (Finnish History), University of Helsinki
Junior research fellow 1991–94, Finnish Forest Research Institute (Metla)
Research associate 1988, University Of Pennsylvania
Research associate 1984–85, 1988–90, Department of History, University of Helsinki

Research themes: the history of science and technology, change in modern industrial society, enterprises in change, and the study of complex societal change.

Valtio, teknologia, tutkimus (‘The state, technology and research,’ 1993)
Viides Sääty (‘The fifth estate,’ 1999)
Työ, tuottavuus, tehokkuus (‘Work, productivity, efficiency,’ 2002)
Suomalainen ydinvoimalaitos ( ‘A Finnish nuclear power plant,’2005)
Global Innovator (2006)
KONE- perhe, yritys ja yrittäjyys teollisuuden vuosisadalla (‘The Kone family, enterprise and entrepreneurship in a century of industry,’ 2013)

Research projects:
Suomen lehdistön historia (‘The history of the Finnish press,’1985)
American Genesis (1987–88)
Metsätieteellisen tutkimuksen historia (‘The history of forest science research,’1993–95)
Suomen tieteen historia (‘The history of Finnish science,’1996–97)
We have never been modern (1997–99)
Osaaminen Suomessa (‘Expertise in Finland,’ 2001–03)
Europe goes critical (2007–09)
History of Nuclear Energy and Society (2015–18)

Awards and special achievements:
Finnish Society of Electronics Engineers prize 2002
Finnish Society for the History of Technology Silver Badge of Merit
Erkki Laurila Award 2007, Finnish Nuclear Society
Award of recognition 2014, Finnish Business School Graduates prize for literature 2014
Award of recognition 2014, Society of the Friends of History

Photo: Teemu Leinonen, Lappeenranta University of Technology
Written by Karl-Erik Michelsen (Olli Siitonen & Tiia Niemelä, ed.)
Translated by Matthew Billington

For many reasons, nuclear power has been a crucial subject for me. To begin with, it is entirely politicised, and it is the only form of energy produced by human beings. Moreover, it embraces the elements of science, technology, war, peace, progress, and destruction. I was able to research the history of nuclear power with Tuomo Särkikoski in the Loviisa project that resulted in the book Suomalainen ydinvoimalaitos (‘A Finnish Nuclear Power Plant’). The project is now continuing as a European research project which aims to investigate the relationship between nuclear power and civic society from a historical perspective.

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The Finnish Broadcasting Company’s ‘three wise men’ of science, in other words the hosts of the Tiedeykkönen ('Science One') radio discussion programme, have been on the air for almost a decade. I have had the opportunity to think and debate numerous issues of interest with René Gothóni and Kimmo Pietiläinen, and our discussions have been moderated with consummate skill by Sisko Loikkanen. At best our show has tens of thousands of listeners, and in Summer 2015 it was the most popular programme on the radio.

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