In their 2023 call, Turku University Foundation awarded Marjaana Puurtinen 12 480 e for the research project “Miltä historia nykyään näyttää? Tulevat historian ja opetusalan ammattilaiset ja menneisyyden katsominen ja kokeminen virtuaalitodellisuudessa” [“What does history look like today? Future experts of history and education and viewing and experiencing the past in virtual reality”] . In the project, ReThink members Mikko Kainulainen and Erkki Anto will act as grantees, working on essay and eye-tracking data. Read more here.
Please feel free to check out a recent article by Mikko Kainulainen, Marjaana Puurtinen and Clark A. Chinn, published in the Proceedings of the 16th International Conference of the Learning Sciences 2022, via this link.
Abstract: Developing and applying epistemic ideals or criteria is a core component of epistemic practices. In history education, epistemic criteria have been included in approaches to teaching history as well as in theoretical frameworks for investigating the learning and understanding of the domain. One justification for these frameworks is in the epistemic practices of expert historians; however, empirical evidence about historians’ epistemic criteria is scarce. Thus, we set out to explore epistemic criteria historians use to determine quality in their own and others’ work through an analysis of interviews with 26 Finnish historians. We identified over 80 criteria that we placed in categories such as internal characteristics of works; connections to past and present knowledge and practices; connections to future knowledge and practices; proxies; connections to non-epistemic use; and emotions. These findings open up possibilities for better developing criteria in history education and considering their connections to those of experts.
Please check out a recent open-access publication by Mikko Kainulainen, Marjaana Puurtinen and Clark A. Chinn, published in Historical Encounters in 2022 (click here to see the article).
Abstract: Many recent approaches to history education—such as ones related to historical thinking, historical reasoning, or inquiry-based learning—have brought the practice of historiography (i.e. historical research and writing) to the center the learning about history. Students are to learn about how historical knowledge is constructed, and this is often pursued by instructional methods such as modeling or simulating expert historians’ practices in classrooms. In this paper, we approach historiography primarily as an epistemic practice that shaped in part by (historians’) aims or goals. Understanding those aims can contribute significantly to our understanding of the historical inquiries that ensue. Yet education has not made these aims a central focus of research or instruction. Therefore, we explored academic historians’ aims in their practices of historiography. We interviewed 26 Finnish historians about their ongoing research endeavors. Our results display a range of aims in academic historiography, including general epistemological concepts (e.g. knowledge), dialogical aims (e.g., question existing ideas), textual products, dissemination (e.g., popularizing), bringing about societal change (e.g., influence sense of possibilities), connection to present, and emotions. These findings improve our understanding of the diversity of historiography as an intentional practice, and thus provide a better ground for developing the kind of history education that builds on historians’ practices.
Keywords: Epistemic practices, epistemic aims, expertise in history, historiography, history education
Please check out the recent paper by Natan Elgabsi, published in Social Studies of Science in December 2021 (link to journal website).
Abstract: This study takes off from the ethical problem that racism grounded in population genetics raises. It is an analysis of four standard scientific responses to the problem of genetically motivated racism, seen in connection with the Human Genome Diversity Project (HGDP): (1) Discriminatory uses of scientific facts and arguments are in principle ‘misuses’ of scientific data that the researcher cannot be further responsible for. (2) In a strict scientific sense, genomic facts ‘disclaim racism’, which means that an epistemically correct grasp of genomics should be ethically justified. (3) Ethical difficulties are issues to be ‘resolved’ by an ethics institution or committee, which will guarantee the ethical quality of the research scrutinized. (4) Although population genetics occasionally may lead to racism, its overall ‘value’ for humankind justifies its cause as a desirable pursuit. I argue that these typical responses to genetically motivated racism supervene on a principle called the ‘ethic of knowledge’, which implies that an epistemically correct account has intrinsic ethical value. This principle, and its logically related ideas concerning the ethic of science, effectively avoids a deeper ethical question of responsibility in science from being raised.
Keywords: race and racism, ethics, bioethics, population genetics, responsible research and innovation
Kone Foundation awarded funding for two 3-year long ReThink members’ projects in their 2021 call. Read more: https://koneensaatio.fi/en/
Jonas Ahlskog & Natan Elgabsi: “Doing Justice to to Experience: Relations to the Difficult Past in History and Memory” (237 600 e)
What role should witness accounts and collective memory have in professional historical research? The main objective of the present research project is to solve this question. For this task, the project will offer two connected innovations in historical theory. These innovations are: (i) a theoretical account that shows how, and to what extent, the experiential dimension that witness accounts offer can be incorporated in historical modes of understanding the past, and (ii) a new understanding of the authority of historical research that gives legitimacy to the historian’s role as a memory critic. The project offers, on the one hand, a deeper understanding of the proper ways in which testimony and memory have a valid role to play in historical research, and, on the other hand, theoretical tools for defending the authority of historical research in relation to collective memory and witness accounts. Contrary to contemporary work in the field, the project argues that it is only by attending to conceptual distinctions between history and memory that one can correctly appreciate the proper role of memory and testimony in historical research. The innovations of the project are achieved by (i) re-engaging classical work on the methodological distinctiveness of historical understanding and (ii) by utilizing insights about testimonial knowledge from contemporary philosophy. The main hypothesis of the project is that these two factors has been overlooked in hitherto historical theory about the role of testimony in historical research. Thus, the project will address this lack by showing the ways in which a proper understanding of testimonial knowledge and the methods of history advances our understanding of how the experiential dimension of witness accounts can be incorporated in historical modes of understanding the past. The project has far-reaching effects and impact for questions about the public relevance and authority of historical research.
Ilkka Lähteenmäki: “Making Sense on History Across Media” (123 000 e)
[Abstract in Finnish] Tutkimus kartoittaa populaarihistorian ominaisuuksia. Erityistä huomiota kiinnitetään kasvavaan haasteeseen, jonka ei-kirjallinen esittäminen muodostaa historiankirjoitukselle. Vaikka historiantutkimus suuntautuukin paljolti tekstin tuottamiseen, ”historia” ei rajoitu akateemiseen tutkimukseen. Akateemiset historioitsijat ovatkin kokeneet ei-kirjallisen historian tuottamisen vaikeaksi. Akatemian ulkopuolella historiaa (laajasti ymmärrettynä) esiintyy kuitenkin jatkuvasti populaarimediassa ja asiantuntija organisaatioiden projekteissa: elokuvissa, televisiosarjoissa, peleissä, näyttelyissä (niin virtuaalisissa kuin fyysisissäkin) yms. Tutkimus keskittyykin populaariin historiakulttuuriin tunnistaakseen eri mediamuotojen heikkoudet ja vahvuudet suhteessa historian esittämisen tiedollisiin vaatimuksiin. Keskeinen kysymys tutkimuksessa onkin: ”Voidaanko historiantutkimuksen piirissä esittää historiaa ei-kirjallisessa muodossa, ja jos voidaan niin miten tämä tulisi tehdä?” Tutkimuksessa analysoidaan jo olemassa olevia ei-kirjallisia historiaesityksiä, joiden tavoitteet vaihtelevat tiedollisista ja kasvatuksellista aina viihteeseen ja kokemuksellisuuteen. Rippumatta esitysten tavoitteista (tai faktuaalisuudesta) kaikilla näillä on oma vaikutuksensa siihen, miten muodostamme käsityksemme menneisyydestä. Aineistoa analysoidaan historianfilosofian, historiakulttuurin, historiateorian ja mediatutkimuksen tarjoamien viitekehysten läpi. Tämän analyysin pohjalta rakennetaan populaarin historiakulttuurin typografia ja esitetään laajempi historianfilosofinen teoriaviitekehys, joka huomioi medioiden vahvuudet, heikkoudet ja mahdollisuudet historian esittämiselle tulevaisuudessa. Tutkimus tuottaa uutta teoriaa tukemaan niin tulevaa akateemista historiantutkimusta kuin asiantuntijaorganisaatioita, jotka ovat jo käytännön työssään kohdanneet digitaalisuuden mukanaan tuoman historian esittämisen murroksen.
The Academy of Finland awarded ReThink member Marjaana Puurtinen with Academy Research Fellow funding (450 000 e) for her project titled “Eye on History: How Experts and Novices Deal with Visual Representations of the Past”. Several other ReThink members will act as collaborators during the five-year project.
The “Eye on History” project studies how historians, history students and history enthusiasts view practices of historical research and of presenting the past in non-textual contexts. In practice, eye-tracking methodology is used to study how history workers and consumers interpret the past in images, virtual environments and historical milieus. The project collaborates with three Finnish history museums and science centers as well as with a historical society, and empirical materials collected according to the research tradition in educational sciences will be also used for theoretical reflection on history. The project provides research-based information on the various ways of interpreting the past in visuals and supports the development of history education in different types of learning environments from schools to museums. Results are also expected to encourage public debate about the diversity of conceptions of history and their impact on interpretation.
Please check out the recent theoretical paper by Mikko Kainulainen, Marjaana Puurtinen and Clark Chinn, published in International Journal of Educational Research in fall 2019, via this link.
Abstract: Along their path towards expertise, historians undergo conceptual changes. The purpose of this theoretical paper is to argue that conceptual change in history involves, first, a fundamental shift from an understanding of history as the past to an understanding of history as human production. And second, expert conceptual change involves understanding multiple approaches to the production of history. Each approach is associated with constraints on historical concepts and meta-concepts. We outline differences and similarities between these broad approaches through a framework that merges epistemic cognition and historical theory. Currently, there exists no singular conception of history to set as an unproblematic aim of epistemic education, and conceptual change must therefore embrace the aim of understanding of multiple conceptions.
Elsevier logo from Wikimedia Commons.
Mikko Kainulainen (University of Turku) visited the Graduate School of Education at the Rudgers University (NJ, USA) in 2018-2019, supported by a six-month Fulbright scholarship. Mikko was hosted by his close collaborator, Prof. Clark Chinn. Read more about Mikko’s visit from this news article on the Graduate Schools’ website.
Philosophy, Åbo Akademi University
Jonas Ahlskog holds the title of Associate Professor (docent) of Philosophy from Åbo Akademi University (ÅAU). He is Postdoctoral Researcher in Minority Studies at ÅAU, Principal Investigator of the Kone Foundation research project Doing Justice to Experience: Relations to the Difficult Past in History and Memory, and has experience of academic teaching in both history and philosophy as University Teacher (universitetslärare) at ÅAU. Ahlskog has held visiting research fellowships at Harvard University and Södertörn University. Ahlskog’s philosophical research is focused on conceptual questions concerning historical knowledge, action, understanding, explanation, testimony, memory, and cultural theory. In history, Ahlskog is primarily doing research about conceptions of nation, class, language and identity in political and ideological movements during the 20th century in Finland. He is the author of The Primacy of Method in Historical Research (Routledge 2021). Outside academia, Ahlskog is adviser (sakkunnig) for Svenska folkskolans vänner r.f., within a project about contemporary challenges for non-formal adult education.
Department of Teacher Education, University of Turku
Erkki Anto (MA, education) works as a Project Researcher at the Department of Teacher Education and has specialized in the use of the eye-tracking methodology in educational research settings. He is preparing a doctoral dissertation about the text-comprehension skills of university students.