Page updated 30.9.2019

“Working together to achieve impact is why I’m here” – Justyna Siemionow promotes research on social inclusion

Three new international experts have joined the TUAS Fellows programme in August 2019, bringing a breath of internationality to our invited expert programme. In this story, we proudly introduce Associate Professor Justyna Siemionow from the University of Gdansk, Poland, who specializes in research and practices of social inclusion.

TUAS Fellows is a programme aimed at invited experts at Turku University of Applied Sciences (TUAS). The programme fosters and extends our collaboration network globally, and brings added value to our RDI activities. Our first invited experts started in the TUAS Fellow scheme in 2016. Each Fellow participates in the scheme for a period of five years, after which the membership may be renewed.

One of the TUAS Fellows appointed in 2019 is Justyna Siemionow from the University of Gdansk, Poland, where she currently works as Deputy Director for the Institute of Education in the Faculty of Social Sciences.

Let’s find out what kind of plans and cooperation are involved in her position as a new TUAS Fellow.

Collaboration in both research and teaching

“I’m here to work together. With other research group members, and with students. To talk about important issues, to do research, to develop solutions, and to get feedback,” Siemionow sums up as we meet at TUAS in early September during her 3-week visit in Turku.

At TUAS, Siemionow will be working within the research group of Social Inclusion and Active Citizenship, which is led by Principal Lecturer and Research Group Leader Eeva Timonen-Kallio.

“I’m so excited to start the fellowship with Justyna, as I have known her and her way of working for some time already,” says Eeva Timonen-Kallio. “She has constantly new ideas for working together. Her three-week visit at TUAS Faculty of Health and Well-being has given both teachers and students the opportunity to enjoy her expertise during the lectures she held or attended.”

Talking about lectures, Siemionow is really looking forward to working with TUAS students. She is currently making plans with Katja Heikkinen, Head of Education and Research at TUAS Master School of Health and Well-being, to hold lectures and participate in planning master-level education at TUAS when visiting Turku again in spring 2020.

Not for the first time in Turku, and not for the last!

“It’s been five years since my first visit to Turku,” Siemionow says. “The first one was an Erasmus teacher exchange. I spent five days teaching at the University of Turku.”

“In fact, it was also the first time I flew anywhere,” she reveals.

Since then, Siemionow has been an annual guest in the city, visiting Finland either in spring or in autumn.

“Your main library is beautiful,” Siemionow mentions when asked about her favourite places in Turku. “I enjoy seeing all these people sitting and reading, either newspapers, journals or books. Elderly people, families, teenagers. It’s inspiring.”

“Also, can I just say that I like the atmosphere at Turku University of Applied Sciences. The open and shared staff workspaces where people can work flexibly really support the idea of doing things together,” Siemionow adds.

How to help the most vulnerable children and adolescents in the most effective way?

Eeva Timonen-Kallio is extremely happy about Justyna Siemionow’s contribution within the research group of Social Inclusion and Active Citizenship. “Her presence also consolidates our international context,” Timonen-Kallio says. “I’m sure our RDI collaboration will be fruitful; particularly as we share a mutual personal interest in promoting the social inclusion and well-being of the most vulnerable children and their families, both on research level and in practice.”

Before taking the leap to the academic world of research, Siemionow acquired years’ worth of experience as a psychologist, working with troubled youngsters particularly through cognitive behavioural therapy and aiming to find methods and practices that involve the families and thus provide more effective help for the families.

During her academic career, Siemionow has published over 70 articles. Her current research interests cover, for instance, identifying new ways of working with teenagers who suffer from emotional problems and especially involving their families in the process.

Creative pedagogic solutions for working with people

“In addition,” Siemionow continues, moving from research to her more hands-on future plans, “I’m interested in developing creative pedagogy to be utilized in social work and health care education.”

“Such development work is needed both in Finland and in Poland and this requires multidisciplinary education,” Katja Heikkinen says. “This is one of the things we have already started to work on in the framework of this collaboration, that is, to design a new master’s degree programme.”

Siemionow concludes, “That said, I’d like to provide ways for how social workers and health care professionals can use creative pedagogical aspects in their work. Because after all, they do work with people.”
 

Text: Mirva Virtanen
Photo: Ada Avenius


In the photo above, from left to right: TUAS Principal Lecturer and Research Group Leader Eeva Timonen-Kallio, TUAS Head of Education and Research Katja Heikkinen and Associate Professor and TUAS Fellow Justyna Siemionow in early September 2019 at the opening event of the academic year at TUAS.