Broadly speaking, SOC’s research seeks to promote health and well-being and improve our understanding of and ability to manage social change.
SOC is home to eight specialist research centres: the Gerontology Research Center (GEREC), Tampere Centre for Childhood, Youth and Family Research (PERLA), the Centre for Interdisciplinary Narrative Studies (Narrare), Tampere Peace Research Institute (TAPRI), Tampere Centre for Classical, Medieval and Early Modern Studies (Trivium), the Research Center for Knowledge, Science, Technology and Innovation Studies (TaSTI), and the Work Research Centre (WRC). The Prostate Cancer Research Center (PCRC) is operated jointly with the Faculty of Medicine. SOC has defined criteria for the establishment and discontinuation of research centres.
Launched in 2018, the Academy of Finland Centre of Excellence in the History of Experiences (HEX) received a major boost when it welcomed new researchers from Finland and abroad. HEX introduced a visitor programme, established an international publication series titled Palgrave Studies in the History of Experience, and attracted widespread visibility in Finland and beyond, including an award granted to Professor Pirjo Markkola by the Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities.
A significant new opening was the ERC Starting Grant that was awarded for a project studying community dynamics. There is also another ERC-funded research project titled Gender, Party Politics and Democracy in Europe (EUGenDem, 2018–2023) underway at SOC.
A number of major high-impact projects have been completed or are still underway at SOC, such as Problem Gambling and Social Media: Social Psychological Study on Youth Behavior in Online Gaming Communities (2017-2020). The project was funded by the Finnish Foundation for Alcohol Studies and involved partners from Spain, South Korea, Austria, Denmark and the USA.
We received a three-year grant from the Academy of Finland’s Strategic Research Council (SRC) for a project titled Reliable knowledge for health care: process and practice of shared decision making. Our other SRC-funded projects include All Youth Want To Rule Their World (ALL-YOUTH), which involves Tampere University and the universities of Helsinki and Eastern Finland, and Towards ECO Welfare State (ORSI), which is a collaborative undertaking between Tampere University, the Finnish Environment Institute, Aalto University and the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland.
SOC produces professionals for the various sectors of society. We offer eight degree programmes (Health Sciences, History, Literary Studies, Logopedics, Philosophy, Psychology, Social Sciences, Social Work), two English-language and two Finnish-language master’s programmes, and one English-language bachelor’s programme.
Due to Covid-19, we switched to remote teaching and learning in the 2020 spring semester. All entrance examinations were likewise moved online. We supported teaching staff and students with the shift to an online environment by regularly organising remote teaching clinics and allocating resources to support remote teaching and learning.
Despite 2020 being the year of the pandemic, we saw a record number of students graduating with a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree. We exceeded our target graduation rates in all our fields of study at the BSc and MSc levels and conferred more than 300 BSc degrees and close to 400 MSc degrees.
We generally award an average of 40 doctoral degrees each year. Due to the pandemic and remote doctoral defences, 30 students graduated with a doctoral degree in 2020.
We launched the new English-language Bachelor’s Degree Programme in Sustainable Urban Development and the Finnish-language Master’s Programme in Welfare Policy and Social Research, which is available to students in the University Consortium of Pori.
An ambitious and visionary teaching innovation was the implementation of the course Introduction to Social Research as an open online course, designed to develop student recruitment practices and replace the entrance examination in the field of social research. The course was implemented in collaboration with the University of Helsinki.
We have maintained close collaboration with student associations. The faculty management has been meeting with the chairpersons of student associations on a monthly basis. Subject associations have conducted well-being and equality surveys among students, and their results have been analysed and discussed by the SOC Management Group.
We cooperated with the University’s Education and Learning Services to develop low-threshold services for students. A concrete result of these activities is Navigaattori, which offers students easy access to guidance and well-being support and advice on well-being.
Our researchers are sought-after specialists and frequently invited to support different development projects and the drafting of laws. In 2020, SOC’s dean was invited to serve as rapporteur in an internal security assessment as well as appointed to perform specialist assignments commissioned by the Finnish Government and chair a committee tasked with envisioning the future of the Tampere region.
After the pandemic broke out, we designed and implemented a nationwide Covid-19 contact tracing course. The open online course was offered as further education for healthcare professionals to help manage and prevent the spread of the pandemic. Launched in early June 2020, the online course became the most popular course offered by Tampere University in the space of mere months. By late 2020, around 2,700 individuals, the majority of them healthcare professionals, had completed the course to become trained contact tracers.
In the field of literary studies, we completed Dangers of Narrative, a four-year research project funded by Kone Foundation. The project combined a sound scientific foundation and a growing trend in society, as well as research expertise and the experiences of the public into an exceptionally innovative and unique whole. The team of researchers worked closely together with international research institutions, researchers from other disciplines and the media. The researchers and stakeholders examined why and how narrative has become an instrument that defines well-being and social inclusion, analysed the associated risks and identified ways for researchers to increase our critical understanding of the force and dangers of narrative.
Our researchers have published several nonfiction books intended for the public. A book that traces the history of the restrictions placed on dancing in Finland between 1888 and 1948 (Kielletyt leikit. Tanssin kieltämisen historia Suomessa 1888–1948) authored by University Lecturer Marko Tikka and PhD Seija-Leena Nevala received the prestigious Finlandia Prize in nonfiction. The exhibition Ostia, Gateway to Rome at the Museum Centre Vapriikki attracted a record-breaking audience of 140,000.