Dr Panu Pihkala (b. 1979) is an interdisciplinary eco-anxiety scholar based in the University of Helsinki, Finland. He is an adjunct professor (docent) in environmental theology and has researched also the role of worldviews and religions for environmental matters. Pihkala is the leading Finnish scholar in eco-anxiety research and he often comments on related matters in the Finnish media. Pihkala has published two books in Finnish about eco-emotions, and he was awarded the National Prize for Adult Education (Sivistyspalkinto) in 2018 by The Finnish Lifelong Learning Foundation (Kansanvalistusseura), among other awards. He has a wide experience of leading workshops about eco-anxiety and ecological emotions, and he has often collaborated with artists. Some of his practical materials can be found in English in his blog, www.ecoanxietyandhope.blogspot.com. He hosts the podcast “Climate Change and Happiness” with pioneering environmental psychologist Thomas Doherty.
Dr Raisa Foster (b. 1976), has been focusing on the questions of eco-social justice for the past several years. She holds the titles of adjunct professor in dance pedagogy (University of the Arts Helsinki) and in social pedagogy, especially artistic research and practice (University of Eastern Finland). Currently, she is working as a university researcher at the University of Eastern Finland.After completing her Ph.D. in educational sciences at the University of Tampere in 2012, Foster took her artistic research further to embrace the topic of otherness, including gender identity, (dis)ability, and interspecies empathy. Both public and private funders have extensively supported Foster’s artistic research over the last 15 years. In 2015–2017 Foster led the Art-Eco research project on empathetic-ecological humanity, which was funded by Kone Foundation.
Katja Juhola (1975), PhD researcher, University of Lapland, Faculty of Arts. She is a curator, visual artist, and the founder and creator of ISEAS, the International Socially Engaged Art Symposium. For her, instead of art objects, the process is important. Her basic aspirations stem from the principles of equality and an ecological lifestyle. Juhola believes in the possibility of art to make social change. Juhola has been active in the field of art for over 20 years. She has held over 100 exhibitions both abroad and in Finland. She has completed over 10 major social engaged art projects in Finland and 5 abroad. She is chairperson of the Länsi-Uusimaa Artists’ Association, and has been the chairperson of the Raseborg Photograph Center from 2014-2017, where she has curated several exhibitions.
MAHMOUD SALEH MOHAMMADI
Mahmoud Saleh Mohammadi (1979) started his artistic career in his country of birth, Iran. He then studied visual arts education at the Brera Academy of Milan, Italy, graduating in 2017. He currently lives and works between Milan and Antwerp (Belgium). In Antwerp, At the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp, he is conducting artistic research rooted in cultural, social, and relational integration through different contemporary art languages (painting, installations, and performances). His multidisciplinary career combines visual and social arts. In 2014 he founded his nomadic cultural association, Spazio Nour, in Milan, a creative lab promoting dialogue between different (site-specific) visual and participatory arts, as well as between various ethnic groups actually coexisting in the same social structure. A sense of belonging and togetherness amongst all neighbours is the ultimate goal, with contemporary arts as the mediator. It is a gradual and intense process based on empathy and listening to the needs of those around us.
Teemu Mäki (1967 in Lapua, KuT) Doctor of Fine Arts, is a writer, visual artist, theatre and film director, and researcher. About half of Mäki’s literary output consists of poems, plays, film scripts, and opera librettos. The other side is theory and essays that reflect on art, its methods, and its social role. As for content, the most important themes of his artistic work in recent years have been:
1) Gender. From binary gender division towards gender diversity.
2) Leftism. How to react to the loss of jobs and how to prevent the accumulation of power and wealth in the hands of the richest per cent?
3) The sixth mass extinction. How to react to the human-caused extinction wave and climate change, politically and philosophically?
4) Mortality. Facing mortality as part of the good life.
5) Happiness. What is happiness and how can it be created and created through art?