Professor of Sociology Eric Klinenberg from New York University discussed the future of democratic societies and social infrastructure in a public event arranged at the Helsinki University Think Corner on May 9, 2019. He was joined by three local panelists, Professor of Urban Geography Mari Vaattovaara at the University of Helsinki; Manager of Urban Space and Networks Unit Maria Jaakkola from the Urban Environment Division of the Helsinki City administration; and Director of Library Services Katri Vänttinen from the City of Helsinki.
Professor Klinenberg highlighted the importance of shared and free places – such as libraries, parks, and playgrounds – where people gather, making friends across group lines and strengthening the community. The feeling in equality and belonging increases general well-being and, according to his research, even increases life expectancy.
The event was arranged in cooperation with the Helsinki Institute of Urban and Regional Studies (Urbaria) and the U.S. Embassy Finland.