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Samu Nyström

Samu Matias Nyström
Born 5 June, 1975, Helsinki.

Master of Arts 2004 and Doctor of Philosophy (Finnish and Nordic History) 2013

Independent scholar, 2013-
Postgraduate, University of Helsinki, 2004–13
Entrepreneur and non-fiction author 2004–
City of Helsinki’s History of Emergency medical service of Helsinki project, researcher, 2004–2005
Finnish Medical Association’s Doctors in Finnish Society project, Project Head, 2007–2010
History of Helsinki’s Rescue Department project, Researcher, 2010
History of Finnish Civil Defence project (SPEK), writer
University of Helsinki’s Historical material, Co-ordinator 2007–2012
Medi-Heli ry’s  (Helicopter Emergency medical service) History of Medi-Heli project, researcher 2013
History of Helsinki’s Finnish Adult Education Centre of the City of Helsinki project, researcher 2013–2014

Research interests
In general: Urban history, history of local administration, history of healthcare, history of education
In particular: Urban communities and urban life during crisis, history of medical profession, history of civil defence and emergency services, history of adult education

Awards and special accomplishments
University of Helsinki’s Koskimies Foundation Award for best Doctoral thesis, 2014

Photo: Pekka Lähteenmäki
Written by Samu Nyström and Riitta-Ilona Hurmerinta (ed.)
Translated by John Calton

Out of the library vaults and into the streets and squares – promoting the public understanding of science

As an entrepreneur, author of non-fiction books, and an experienced researcher, teacher, and performer, Samu Nyström has been involved in popularising scientific information for many years.

– I think it is one important aspect of academic work: research findings must be projected beyond the research community so the knowledge can be used by society more generally.

Nyström has had practical experience of the many different ways of popularising science. In the last few years he has contributed to reference books, a wide variety of lectures and talks, radio programmes, guided city walks and much more.

History is a field which is easy to popularise and make interesting to the public. Conveying the frontline historical research, however, can be problematic: many people hold strong opinions and world views from the time they went to school, which hamper attempts to present new interpretations and findings.

–It is not a question of the public challenging the findings of researchers, which is certainly important, but of people only wanting to hear and read what they already know. Sometimes it takes all our communicative skills and strategies if we’re going to challenge the prevailing paradigms in the world beyond the academy, says Nyström.

At best, the researcher and the public learn – everyone gets new information, or learns to appreciate the diversity of interpretations.

– It is great when you or someone in the audience have an ‘ah-hah’ moment and see things from a different perspective.

One of the most rewarding ways of popularising science for Samu Nyström has been through city walks. There are historical materials and long-standing traditions here. Both professor emeritus Matti Klinge and professor of European History Laura Kolbe have for decades been taking their students – and sometimes other listeners – on tours in the streets and squares to explore the history of the city and urban life.

– When the subject of my dissertation is Helsinki during the Civil War and the First World War, what better place can be found for the presentation of the findings than the streets of the city? I have led all kinds of walking tours on the streets of Helsinki. At best there have been upwards of 150 people joining the group, so there clearly is a demand for this kind of activity.

As part of the academic world opening up in a new way, a group of urban historians, led by professor Laura Kolbe, decided in 2013 to establish a company, Helsinki Walks, whose aim is to bring an understanding of urban history to the public.

Photo: Juhani Styrman
Picture: Juhani Styrman.


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