Master's Award ceremony at the Development Days Conference 2017

Marinka Räsänen's videoed thank you-speech after her win was announced.

Finnish University Partnership for International Development - UniPID and the Finnish Society for Development Research presented the 2016 Master's Award in Development Studies to Marinka Räsänen at a ceremony organized at House of Science and Letters, Helsinki on 16 February 2017. The award was for her thesis in completed at the University of Jyväskylä Master's Programme in Development and International Cooperation majoring in Environmental Science titled "Political economy and ecology of water control dynamics of water policy reform and water justice in Taita Hills, South-Eastern Kenya".

Räsänen's thesis was praised for its interdisciplinary methodology as well as its highly relevant contribution to the global environmental discussion. The theoretical framework of the thesis is solid and goes deep into matters belonging to political ecology and economic sociology through technical and strictly scientific analysis. The results can be directly applied to the ongoing water policy reform in Kenya; they could as well be disseminated in scientific and professional publications.






















Yên Mai receiving her honorary mention and giving a short speech to the audience gathered at the House of Sciences and Letters. Master's Award Committee members (from left to right): Reijo Heinonen, Ullamaija Kivikuru, Olavi Luukkanen

Two other theses were given honorary mentions, namely Yên Mai's thesis in sociology "Constructing the Vietnamese Queer Identities: A Hierarchy of Class, Gender and Sexuality" and Jenni Puroila's thesis in responsible business "What really matters? Materiality disclosures in sustainability reporting practices". Mai's thesis was commended by the Master's Award committee for its unique approach and noteworthy theme. Mai gathered a wealth of interview-based data from a variety of LGBTQ youth in Ho Chi Minh City. Her analysis stays true to the narrative-based approach she takes to the whole thesis, and the findings are discussed in relation to the postcolonial framework, which increase their relevance to development scholars and the field of development research.

Puroila's thesis, completed at the University of Tampere School of Management, handles the relatively new concept of materiality and its implications for sustainable development and sustainability reporting done by companies. When discussing her findings, Puroila argues that the current understanding of materiality and sustainability reporting does not suffice, and that tools for more responsible reporting are needed. Puroila's thesis is especially important to development scholars because of its implications regarding the UN Sustainable Development Goals, especially goal 12, Responsible consumption and production.

Besides the winner and the two honorary mentions, UniPID received 27 other very good theses that participated in the competition. The theses represented a variety of disciplines and a wide array of UniPID member universities.

All in all, academics present at the House of Science and Letters seemed to agree that the future of Finnish development research is in good hands, based on the theses that participated in the Master's Award competition.. UniPID and FSDR thank all students who participated in the competition and all staff who participated in the evaluation of the thesis, especially the professors emeritae Reijo Heinonen, Ullamaija Kivikuru and Olavi Luukkanen.

Stay tuned and follow UniPID news for the Master's Award in Development Studies 2017 announcement!

Räsänen, M. 2015. Political economy and ecology of water control - dynamics of water policy reform and water justice in Taita Hills, South-Eastern Kenya. University of Jyväskylä

Mai, Y. 2016. Constructing the Vietnamese Queer Identities: A Hierarchy of Class, Gender, and Sexuality. University of Helsinki.

Puroila, J. 2015. What really matters? Materiality disclosures in sustainability reporting practices. University of Tampere.

Read the press release here (in Finnish).

More information available from Johanna Kivimäki.