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Pirjo Hakala / Diak: “Co-creation is the key: we are not working for people but with them”

Pirjo Hakala smiling in sunny forest.
Who is Who series introduces faces behind the 3IN Alliance. Find out how Pirjo Hakala from Diak, Finland, would like to continue the cooperation.

Pirjo Hakala is the Vice-Rector and Director of Education at the Diaconia University of Applied Sciences in Finland. This year she is the chair of the steering committee of the alliance. To balance out work, she enjoys playing with her grandchildren, going berry picking and knitting.

– I have participated in the planning of the alliance from the very beginning. I have also had the chance to visit all the alliance universities before the outbreak of the pandemic, Hakala explains.

The visits have been an essential part of the cooperation for Hakala.

– All the visits to our partner universities have been memorable. The hospitality of our colleagues has been overwhelming both in Würzburg and Oslo. Before the pandemic, we were able to meet face-to-face, and when you have met once, it has been easier to continue online, she says.

I hope we can generate opportunities for students in all cycles to participate in research groups.

Hakala hopes that the alliance can continue developing cooperation in education on several levels and in various forms.

– My wish is that we can continue developing virtual exchange within the existing courses of partner universities. Creating joint interdisciplinary courses and programmes and establishing faculty contacts are also some things to pursue. I hope we can create joint research groups and join our forces in new project applications, she visions.

The alliance is a great basis for the development of education. When planning new activities, inclusion, integration and involvement are all needed. For instance, the three INs show in all Diak’s curricula, says Hakala.

– Co-creation is the key: we are not working for people but with them. We have also strived to make higher education accessible to the groups that are underrepresented in our universities, e.g. people with Roma or immigrant backgrounds, she says.

Read all stories from the 3IN website.

The 3IN Alliance brings together diverse European higher education institutions with a joint mission: a world where no one is left behind. The Who is Who series introduces staff members and students behind the scenes of the 3IN Alliance.