Simo Laakkonen
Senior Lecturer of Landscape Studies (University of Turku), Adjunct Professor of Social and Economic History (University of Helsinki)

+358 29 450 3422

+358 45 137 7259

Siltapuistokatu 2


ORCID identifier:

Areas of expertise
Environmental history of the Baltic Sea; urban socio-environmental change, oral environmental history, ecology of war.


I studied political history at the University of Helsinki and completed my MSc thesis in 1991 about the emergence of the new labor movement (CUT, PT) which gained political power in Brazil at the end of the 20th century. I continued my studies in social and economic history and defended my PhD thesis in 2001. After that I worked as a researcher of the Academy of Finland, a Lecturer of Environmental Policy at the Department of Environmental Studies in Helsinki and as an (acting) Professor of Environmental Policy at the University of Joensuu in Eastern Finland. I was also a Visiting Fellow at Södertörn University, the University of Stockholm and the University of Kansas. Since 2010 I have worked as a Senior Lecturer of Landscape Studies at the University of Turku.


My PhD explored the origins of water
protection in the City of Helsinki in 1878-1928. This approach was widened in
cooperation with scholars representing, for example, folklore, biology, and
engineering, and in 2001 we published an edited book entitled Näkökulmia
Helsingin ympäristöhistoriaan, Kaupunki ja sen ympäristö 1800- ja 1900-luvulla

(Approaches to the environmental history of Helsinki. The city and its
environment in the 19th and 20th century (Helsinki:
Edita, Helsinki Urban Facts, 274 pp). Still today Helsinki is the only city
outside North America that has been the subject of an extensive city-specific
study in the field of environmental history.

My main research theme is the
environmental history of pollution and protection of the Baltic Sea. Hence I
have directed national projects in Finland and multidisciplinary projects that
have examined urban and national water pollution and protection issues in
Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Germany, and Scandinavian Countries
over the past century. The main results of these projects have been published
in two Special Issues (Laakkonen et al. 2001 and 2007) in Ambio: A Journal of
the Human Environment
, which is a journal of the Royal Swedish Academy of

Peacetime developments in societies and
environment cannot be understood without taking into consideration the impact
of war. After coediting with ecologist Timo Vuorisalo our first book in Finnish
on this subject, that is, Sodan ekologia. Nykyaikaisen sodankäynnin
(Ecology of war. Environmental history of modern
warfare), (Helsinki: Finnish Literature Society, 2007, 775 pp.) I directed also
two other projects that provided the first books published on the environmental
history of WWII, that is,  S. Laakkonen, R. Tucker, T. Vuorisalo (Eds.), The
Long Shadows: A Global Environmental History of the Second World War

(Corvallis: Oregon State University Press, 2017) and S. Laakkonen, J. R.
McNeill, R. Tucker, T. Vuorisalo (Eds.), The Resilient City in World
War II: Urban Environmental Histories
(New York, London: Palgrave
Macmillan, 2019).

Currently I am directing an international research project funded by the Kone Foundation (2021-2024) that explores from a comparative point of view environmental history of water pollution and protection in Finland and the Soviet Union and Russia from the end of the 19th century until today.


I have held courses on various subjects in several countries, universities and faculties including social sciences, the humanities, natural sciences and environmental technology. Currently I am running courses on the methodology of landscape studies, militarized landscapes, and cultural history of winter.

Go to first page
Go to previous page
1 of 3
Go to next page
Go to last page

Last updated on 2021-11-03 at 11:02