At the conferral ceremony in Turku Concert Hall on Friday 25 May 2018, 13 Honorary Doctorates and four Jubilee Doctors were conferred.
Honorary Doctorates are conferred upon persons by faculties in recognition of their scientific achievements or their contributions to the university or society. The title of Jubilee Doctor is conferred upon persons who earned their doctoral degrees 50 years ago.
The Faculty of Arts, Psychology and Theology has conferred an Honorary Doctorate of Psychology on:
Director Mariela Castro Espín
Psychologist, pedagogue Mariela Castro Espín is the Director of the Cuban National Center for Sex Education in Havana. Castro Espín is actively working to advance the rights of sexual minority groups, while also campaigning to prevent the spread of HIV. Her activities are well in line with the focal area of Minority Research at Åbo Akademi University. Castro Espín is conferred the title of Honorary Doctor of Psychology in recognition of her persistent activities concerning minority issues.
The Faculty of Arts, Psychology and Theology has conferred an Honorary Doctorate of Philosophy on:
Author Jonas Gardell
Author Jonas Gardell has, for several decades, advocated for a more broad-minded and open society and spoken for all people’s equal rights and liberties. His literary production and activism have had a great social impact. Gardell’s activities for the marginalized and, in particular, for HBT persons have raised awareness about the significance of the issues regarding these groups. Especially within the field of comparative religion and theology, he has shown insight, competence and knowledge, combined with an ability to communicate about these issues and engage in a positive way. Gardell is conferred the title of Honorary Doctor of Philosophy in recognition of his activism on behalf of sexual minorities and, in particular, his ability to communicate about the related issues within the fields of comparative religion and theology.
High-resolution image. (Photo credit: Thron Ullberg)
Author Sirpa Kähkönen
Award-winning author Sirpa Kähkönen has, in her novels, dealt with the painful events in Finland’s history during the 20th century, especially the civil war in 1918, in an unveiling manner but with a focus on the future. Kähkönen depicts unsparingly the role played by social class, gender and language in the 20th century in Finland, but at the same time, her texts show that it is possible to build bridges over the widest gaps. In Kähkönen’s descriptions of injustice, conflicts and violence, the characters’ viewpoints emerge strongly. Individuals are portrayed as having latitude even in times that historically appeared to leave little room for choice or action. This helps to make history relevant for the present. Kähkönen is conferred the title of Honorary Doctor of Philosophy in recognition of her authorship and contribution to increased understanding of the history and its important role in the present.
The Faculty of Education and Welfare Studies has conferred an Honorary Doctorate of Philosophy on:
Counsellor of Education Armi Mikkola
Counsellor of Education Armi Mikkola will be conferred an Honorary Doctorate of Philosophy in recognition of her valuable contribution to the development of education in Finland, especially the education of teachers for all levels of the educational system. She has shown dedication and expertise in safeguarding the interests and quality of the education Swedish-speaking teachers. Mikkola is conferred the title of Honorary Doctor of Philosophy in recognition of her contribution to the education in Finland, especially to the teacher education.
The Faculty of Education and Welfare Studies has conferred an Honorary Doctorate of Health Sciences on:
Professor Ingegerd Bergbom
Professor emerita Ingegerd Bergbom has served at the University of Gothenburg and the associated Sahlgrenska Academy. Bergbom’s primary field of research is intensive care, and through her research, she has in many ways been involved in developing the science of clinical nursing. During the past two decades, Bergbom has contributed to the development of education and research within nursing science at Åbo Akademi University. In the Nordic countries, she is a renowned and merited researcher with an extensive number of publications in clinical nursing science. Bergbom is conferred the title of Honorary Doctor of Health Sciences in recognition of her significant contribution to the research in nursing science, as well as for active collaboration with Åbo Akademi University.
The Faculty of Social Sciences, Business and Economics has conferred an Honorary Doctorate of Political Sciences on:
Professor Jan Kleineman
Doctor of Laws Jan Kleineman serves as Professor of Civil Law at Stockholm University and within the Stockholm Centre for Commercial Law (SCCL). Kleineman is conferred the title of Honorary Doctor in recognition of his merits within tort law and contractual law, as well as for the initiation of and activities within the SCCL. Kleineman’s scientific contribution to tort and contractual law, in particular, is remarkable. His dissertation, entitled in Swedish Ren förmögenhetsskada – särskilt vid vilseledande av annan än kontraktspart, has become a classic in the Nordic countries and influenced the development of law in Finland as well. Kleineman is conferred the title of Honorary Doctor of Political Sciencse in recognition of his merits for the evolution of law in the Nordic countries, especially as regards tort and contractual law.
Assistant Secretary-General Laura Londén
Laura Londén is a Finnish-Swedish diplomat who has, since 2015, served as Assistant Secretary-General of UN and Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). Londén graduated from Åbo Akademi University with a Master’s degree in Political Sciences, majoring in Public Law and Administration. During her international career, which extends over 25 years, she has worked at the headquarters of several UN agencies globally. Londén is conferred the title of Honorary Doctor of Political Sciences in recognition of her efforts for the benefit of refugees and her passion to make a difference for a better world.
Professor Hannu Nurmi
Professor emeritus Hannu Nurmi has, for a long time, been among the most prominent representatives and flag-bearers of political sciences in Finland. Nurmi’s research profile has been highly international. During his professorship at the University of Turku, and already previously, he has advanced the multifaceted collaboration with Åbo Akademi University in the field of political sciences. Nurmi played a key role in the initiation of the collaboration between the sister departments at the two Turku-based universities, and, over the years, he has been the leading figure in reinforcing this collaboration. Nurmi is conferred the title of Honorary Doctor of Political Sciences in recognition of his merits in Finnish research in political sciences and excellent collaboration with Åbo Akademi University.
The Faculty of Social Sciences, Business and Economics will confer an Honorary Doctorate of Economy on:
Entrepreneur Peter Vesterbacka
Peter Vesterbacka is a multitalented entrepreneur with special expertise in international marketing, as well as a brand and business developer. “Mighty Eagle” Vesterback was a key figure behind the success of the game development company Rovio. Vesterbacka has, among other things, been involved in the initiation of Slush, which has grown into a leading start-up event in Finland and Europe. Actively engaged in alumni activities within the School of Business Administration and Economy at Åbo Akademi University, he was among the initiators of the Edge seminars and has also contributed to the opening of opportunities for students at Åbo Akademi University to participate in Slush Shanghai. Vesterbacka is conferred the title of Honorary Doctor of Economy in recognition of his merits as an entrepreneur and pioneer in international marketing, as well as his contribution to the benefit of Åbo Akademi University.
The Faculty of Natural Sciences and Technology has conferred an Honorary Doctorate of Philosophy on:
Professor Anders Hallberg
Anders Hallberg is professor emeritus in Medicinal Chemistry and a former rector of Uppsala University. Hallberg has been a ground-breaker in encouraging and inspiring the scientific community to pursue innovations and commercialise the results of research. He is still actively involved in research and developing, for example, pharmaceuticals to treat infectious diseases. In addition to his many positions of trust, including the Swedish Natural Science Research Council and the Swedish Research Council, he served as a Board Member at Åbo Akademi University from autumn 2009 to the end of 2017. Hallberg is conferred the title of Honorary Doctor of Philosophy in recognition of his ground-breaking work to advance the commercialisation of scientific outcomes and of his active engagement for the benefit of Åbo Akademi University.
Professor Nils Christian Stenseth
Nils Christian Stenseth is a professor at the Department of Biosciences of the University of Oslo and serves as the chair of the Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis (CEES). Stenseth is a renowned and frequently cited scientist in the field of ecology, both in the Nordic countries and globally. Stenseth has a long history of collaboration with Åbo Akademi University within environmental and marine biology, with special themes ranging from marine ecology and environment to evolution biology. The collaboration has been particularly important in terms of The Sea, one of the strategic areas of research at Åbo Akademi University. Stenseth is conferred the title of Honorary Doctor of Philosophy in recognition of his strong profiling and profound expertise in the field of marine ecology, as well as for his contribution to scientific research at Åbo Akademi University.
The Faculty of Natural Sciences and Technology has conferred an Honorary Doctorate of Technology on:
Doctor of Technology, Doctor of Economics Tarja Cronberg
Doctor of Technology, Doctor of Economics Tarja Cronberg is conferred the title of Honorary Doctor of Technology in recognition of her outstanding contribution to the promotion of sustainable technology and agriculture, interaction between technology and society, Nordic collaboration as well as peace and security. She has also advanced entrepreneurism among women. Cronberg’s long career is particularly diversified and it combines sustainable technology and social sciences in a unique way. She has served, among other things, as a Member of the Parliament, a Member of the European Parliament, and as the Finnish Minister of Labour. Cronberg is conferred the title of Honorary Doctor of Technology in recognition of her longstanding and diversified career that combines sustainable technology and social sciences.
Professor Riitta Keiski
Professor Riitta Keiski from the University of Oulu is renowned as a top researcher in Process and Environmental Engineering, with special research interest in environmentally-oriented heterogeneous catalysis. Her large and extremely active research team has gained international recognition. Keiski is also contributing, in a dedicated and constructive manner, to the national science administration, for example, in the capacity of a Board Member in the Academy of Finland. Over the years, she has represented Finnish catalysis research in European and Nordic organisations and networks. Riitta Keiski has actively advanced scientific and pedagogical collaboration with Åbo Akademi University. Keiski is conferred the title of Honorary Doctor of Technology in recognition of her successful research in the field of process and environmental engineering and of her merits within science administration.
The following Jubilee Doctors were conferred at the ceremony:
Doctor of Technology, Chemical
Doctor of Theology
Doctor of Philosophy,
Doctor of Philosophy,
Talousneuvos (Finnish honorary title) Håkan Anttila was called to be conferred an Honorary Doctorate of Philosophy in recognition of his extensive and long-lasting engagement and contribution to the building of the operational conditions for Åbo Akademi University in Vaasa within research, education and collaboration with society.
Åbo Akademi University regrets the passing away of Håkan Anttila on 7 March 2018.