Seminar on SISU 8 May 2017

 “In Finland there is a phrase — dating back hundreds of years — which refers to extraordinary determination, courage, and resoluteness in the face of extreme adversity. It’s called Sisu.
– Scientific American (March 19, 2014)

In January 14, 1940 The New York Times reported how “The Finns have something they call sisu. It is a compound of bravado and bravery, of ferocity and tenacity, of the ability to keep fighting after most people would have quit, and to fight with the will to win. The Finns translate sisu as ‘the Finnish spirit’, but it is a much more gutful word than that.”

In May 8, 2017 the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters will organize a seminar on sisu; its meaning and effects on science and life. The speakers represent top experts of the theme. Also the audience can take part in the discussion.

The seminar is free of charge and open to the general public. Welcome!

Date and time  
Monday May 8, 2017 – 17:15-20:00

House of the Estates (Säätytalo), Helsinki, Finland

Researcher Emilia Lahti, Aalto University
Professor Barbara Schneider, Michigan State University
Professor Kirsi Tirri, University of Helsinki


Opening words

President, professor Kirsi Tirri, Finnish Academy of Science and Letters


Growth mindset in learning
Professor Kirsi Tirri, University of Helsinki | About the keynote

Sisu as extraordinary determination in science and life
Researcher Emilia Lahti, Aalto University | About the keynote

The Finnish identity of SISU and its impact on motivation, expectations, and well-being
Professor Barbara Schneider, Michigan State University | About the keynote

Discussion with the audience

Coffee and nibbles


About the Speakers

Dr. Kirsi Tirri is a Professor of Education and Vice-Dean in Charge of Research at the Faculty of Educational Sciences at University of Helsinki, Finland. She is the Chair of Doctoral Program SEDUCE (School, Education, Culture and Society) and serves as President of the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters. She is also a Visiting Professor at St. John’s University, New York, USA. Professor Tirri has been the President of ECHA (European Council for High Ability) for the years 2008-2012 and the President of the SIG International Studies at AERA (American Educational Research Association) for the years 2010–2013. Her research interests include school pedagogy, moral and religious education, gifted education, teacher education and cross-cultural studies.

Professor Tirri has published 12 monographs and numerous journal articles related to these fields. She serves in 13 Editorial Boards of educational journals. She has supervised 21 doctoral dissertations in education and theology and mentored many postdoctoral students who are now professors and researchers in education. She has led the Finnish team in many national and international research projects.

MSc, MAPP Emilia Lahti is a researcher and social activist with special interest in applied positive psychology and social justice. Her ambition is to create practical, empowering applications, which can be leveraged on a systemic level to enable a more positive human future. Ms. Lahti has a master’s degree in social psychology, and a master’s degree in applied positive psychology from the University of Pennsylvania. She is a former student of Dr. Martin Seligman and she began her research on the Finnish construct of sisu under the mentorship Dr. Angela Duckworth.

Lahti is an international speaker and has given presentations at TEDx, Stanford University, University of Berkeley California, University of Pennsylvania, the International World Congress on Positive Psychology, as well as Amnesty International Finland and Geelong Grammar School in Australia, among others. Her work has been featured in Business Insider, Scientific American, Forbes and The New Yorker. Currently, she is pursuing a PhD at the Aalto University School of Science and Technology in Helsinki. In 2015 Emilia was selected for the Singularity University Graduate Studies Program at NASA AMES Research Center in Silicon Valley with full scholarship from Google. She’s an avid human rights advocate and is currently training

Dr. Barbara Schneider is the John A. Hannah Chair and Distinguished Professor in the College of Education and Department of Sociology at MSU. She is the principal investigator of the College Ambition Program (CAP), a study that tests a model for promoting a STEM college-going culture in high schools that encourages adolescents to pursue STEM majors in college and occupations in these fields. She worked for 18 years at University of Chicago, holding positions as a professor in Sociology and Human Development and senior researcher at the National Opinion Research Center (NORC). She remains a senior fellow at NORC, where she is the principal investigator of the Center for Advancing Research and Communication in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. She uses a sociological lens to understand societal conditions and interpersonal interactions that create norms and values that enhance human and social capital. Her research focuses on how the social contexts of schools and families influence the academic and social well-being of adolescents as they move into adulthood. In the spring 2017, University of Helsinki will confer honorary doctorate to Professor Schneider.

Professor Schneider has published 15 books and over 100 articles and reports on family, social context of schooling, and sociology of knowledge. She recently served as editor of Sociology of Education and as president of the American Educational Research Association (AERA).