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Pirjo Hiidenmaa

Pirjo Anneli Hiidenmaa
Born February 6, 1959, Anttola.

MA 1986 and PhD 1995 (Finnish language), University of Helsinki

Professor of Non-fiction Studies and Non-fiction Writing, University of Helsinki 1.1.2015-

Previously involved in much research, teaching and specialist work (the Institute for the Languages of Finland,  the Academy of Finland and the University of Helsinki). She has also worked as the Director of the Open University of the University of Helsinki and the Palmenia Centre for Continuing Education. Hiidenmaa was Chair of the Finnish Association of Non-fiction Writers (2003-11) and has been President of the European Writers’ Council since 2009.

Publications, research projects and other academic involvement
Research areas: Non-fiction, communicating science, status of non-fiction writing in communication flows, research in text and discourse, textual pragmatics and context analysis

Awards and special achievements:
The Finnish Literature Society Doctoral Dissertation Award in 1995

Photo: Linda Lappalainen
Written by Pirjo Hiidenmaa and Riitta-Ilona Hurmerinta (ed.)
Translated by Kaisla Kajava. Revised by John Calton.

Information and language in a community

During the years 2011-14, Pirjo Hiidenmaa was director of the Open University, and then of the Palmenia Centre for Continuing Education. In both of these positions the central aim was to grant everyone access to the wide-ranging expertise of the university, whether in degree studies or in continuing education. According to Hiidenmaa, the University and its researchers profit the most from continuing education and open teaching, as the university gets important contacts, feedback on degree requirements, and access to material and research data for challenging issues.

Hiidenmaa worked at KOTUS, the Institute for the Languages of Finland, from the beginning of her studies, in the years 1981-2006, first as a language planner, then as a researcher and as the director of the language planning department. As a language policy planner, she emphasised the role of language in a community as well as that of the language community for the establishment of language norms. The correct use of language is not so much measured by words or word forms, but by the values that a community chooses to place on them. In 2003, Hiidenmaa published a book on language and language policy called Suomen kieli – who cares? (‘The Finnish Language – so what?’)

Hiidenmaa worked as the director of the research funding unit of the Academy of Finland between 2006 and 2011. She collaborated with other European research funders in an effort to assess the societal and public impact of research. The working group encouraged researchers and research departments to find ways of transitioning from ‘unidirectional’ educational modes to those favouring dialogue and co-operation. Hiidenmaa has taught science communication and sought ways to promote the public understanding of science, modes of co-operation, where researchers and members of the public work together to formulate research problems, gather data and interpret the results.

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