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Personal profile

Curriculum vitae

Anne Birgitta Pessi (born 1975 in Oulu, Finland) is Professor of Church and Social Studies, in the University of Helsinki, Faculty of Theology since 2012. She is a member of the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters since 2012. Pessi is a true believer and explorer altruism and compassion! 

Pessi is holds a title of a Docent both in Theology, in church and social studies (University of Helsinki) and in Sociology, empirical and welfare sociology (University of Eastern Finland). Before becoming a professor Pessi worked from 2005 to 2013 as a Fellow (from 2008 to 2013 as a Academy Research Fellow) in the Collegium for Advanced Studies, University of Helsinki. For the last four years she worked also as the Deputy Director of the Collegium.

Pessi has been awarded several international and national academic prizes, such as the prestigious Nils Klim prize (in 2008) and the Jutikkala prize (in 2013). Her dissertation gained awards (e.g. by the International society for third-Sector Research, in 2006). Pessi has worked for longer and shorter periods in several universities abroad (e.g. Boston University in 2010 and LSE in 2005 and 2006). For the autumn 2013 she worked as a Tobis fellow at UC Irvine, California, and for the spring 2016 in Standford, California.

Pessi has several national academic positions of trust; for instance, in the University of Helsinki she is a member of the Scientific Council (2013-2014) and a Board Member in the Network for European Studies (since 2007). Pessi is a member of several international and national academic societies, such as International Society for the Sociology of Religion, European Research Network on Philanthropy, International Society for Third-Sector Research, and Society for the Scientific Study of Religion. She also serves in several national positions of trust in public sector and in NGOs. Pessi is currently a chief editor or an editor of three academic journals.

Currently Pessi directs a vast multidiciplinary project CoPassion, "The Revolutionary Power of Compassion" (www.copassion.fi), from 2015 to 2017. The project involves 11 researchers and is funded by Tekes and more than 10 companies too. She also currently directs an Academy of Finland funded project CoCare (Cooperation in Care – meaning systems, chances, and conflicts, in 2014-2018). She has previously directed Academy of Finland funded research projects RiTS (Religion in Transforming Solidarity, in 2008-2011). She has recently also worked as a Senior Research Member in an Academy of Finland funded project “Church in Today´s European Society” (2011-2015) and as a member of the executive management team of an Argumenta project “Human Mortality” (2011-2014), funded by the Finnish Cultural Foundation. Already before Pessi has been working in various international research projects, such as the EU-funded project “Welfare and Values in Europe” (2006-2009).

Pessi’s research interests cover particularly compassion, altruism, meaningfulness, volunteering,  civil society, togetherness, church social work and experiences of good life, as well as individualized religiosity and experiences of the sacred. Her publications include, for instance, over 40 referee journal articles, and over 200 titles. Currently Pessi works, together with her two research teams, on analysis of the power of compassion in corporate business and the public sector as well as on content and reader experiences of self help literature and the construction of self in this genre.


External positions

Title of a Docent, Itä-Suomen yliopisto

2006 → …


  • 614 Theology
  • Church and Social Studies
  • Volunteering, altruism, civil society, communality, church social work and diaconia, individualized religion, self help
  • Compassion
  • Helping
  • Sacred
  • Emotions and religion
  • 514 Sociology
  • Welfare Sociology
  • Altruism
  • Compassion
  • Solidarity
  • Emotions

International and National Collaboration Publications and projects within past five years.

Publications 1999 2019

"Minä uskon hyvään elämään.": Nuoret ja elämänkulussa rakentuva toimijuus

Juntunen, A. E., 18 Jan 2019, Helsinki: University of Helsinki. 79 p.

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisCollection of Articles

Open Access

Rohkeus toimia myötätuntoisesti työyhteisössä

Pessi, A., 2019, Kaikenlaista rohkeutta. Hetemäki, I., Koskinen, H., Pulkkinen, T. & Väliverronen, E. (eds.). Helsinki: Gaudeamus, p. 179-180 2 p.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientific

Julkinen ja yksityinen: uskonnon monipaikkaisuus

Pessi, A. B. & Grönlund, H., 2018, Uskontososiologia. Ketola, K., Martikainen, T. & Taira, T. (eds.). Turku: Eetos, p. 100-112 13 p. (Eetos-julkaisuja; no. 20).

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review

Practicing Compassionate Leadership and Building Spirals of Inspiration in Business and Public Sector

Pessi, A. B. & Hakanen, J., 2018, Practicing Servant Leadership: Developments in Implementation. van Dierendonck, D. & Patterson, K. (eds.). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, p. 119-140 22 p.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review

Pyhyyden ytimessä: Tutkimus suomalaisten arvoista ja pyhyyden kokemisesta

Pessi, A. B., Pitkänen, V., Westinen, J. & Grönlund, H., 12 Dec 2018, Helsinki: Suomen kulttuurirahasto. 85 p.

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned reportProfessional

Open Access

Projects 2003 2018

Protestant Roots of Finnish National Identities

Sinnemäki, K., Portman, A., Nelson, R., Karlsson, F., Pirttilä-Backman, A., Sumiala, J., Knuutila, J., Laine, E., Laine, T., Saarinen, R., Pessi, A. B., Lauha, A., Stenius, H., Meinander, H., Pihlström, S., Helkama, K., Hakkarainen, M., Slotte, P., Ahlholm, M., Kivistö, S., Räsänen, A., Saarikivi, J., Tolonen, M., Kantola, A., Martikainen, P., Hurri, S., Finell, E., Mangeloja, E., Tilli, J., Markkola, P., Ketola, K., Rentto, J., Partti, H., Huhta, I., Niemi, H., Kuningas, J., Huttunen, N., Ahonen, P. & Ihalainen, P.

19/08/2014 → …

Project: Research project

Europe Engage

Grönlund, H., Nortomaa, A., Spännäri, J. & Pessi, A. B.


Project: Research project

Exploring the Place of Faith Based Organisations in Civil Society in a Europe in Turmoil

Pessi, A. B., Lehtinen, S., Middlemiss Le Mon, M., Pettersson, P. & Leis Peters, A.


Project: Research project


Dissertation award

Anne Birgitta Pessi (Recipient), Jun 2006

Prize: Prizes and awards

Dissertation Award

Anne Birgitta Pessi (Recipient), Apr 2005

Prize: Prizes and awards

Doctor Primus

Anne Birgitta Pessi (Recipient), May 2005

Prize: Prizes and awards

Emerging Scolar Award

Anne Birgitta Pessi (Recipient), Nov 2005

Prize: Prizes and awards

European Commission Erasmus+ Programme Success Story Award for the project Europe Engage

Henrietta Grönlund (Recipient), Aura Nortomaa (Recipient), Jenni Anna-Liisa Spännäri (Recipient), Anne Birgitta Pessi (Recipient) & Anne Hopia (Recipient), 2018

Prize: Prizes and awards

Activities 2000 2018

University Il Jaume, Castellon

Anne Birgitta Pessi (Visiting researcher)
15 Dec 201822 Dec 2018

Activity: Visiting an external institution typesAcademic visit to other institution

Exhausted Women - Exhausted Welfare

Anne Birgitta Pessi (Speaker: Keynote)
24 Nov 2017

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesOrganisation and participation in conferences, workshops, courses, seminars

University of Stanford

Anne Pessi (Visiting researcher)
Jan 2017Feb 2017

Activity: Visiting an external institution typesAcademic visit to other institution

Universitat Jaume

Anne Birgitta Pessi (Visiting researcher)
14 Oct 201722 Oct 2017

Activity: Visiting an external institution typesAcademic visit to other institution

Positive Psychology at Work: Towards flourishing workplaces

Anne Pessi (Speaker)
28 Aug 201730 Aug 2017

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation

Press / Media

Kun annat niin saat

Anne Birgitta Pessi


1 item of media coverage

Press/Media: Press / Media

Myötäinto lisää työniloa

Anne Birgitta Pessi


1 item of media coverage

Press/Media: Press / Media

Anna myötätunnon mullistaa

Anne Birgitta Pessi


1 item of media coverage

Press/Media: Press / Media

Osoita myötätuntoa ja myötäintoa työkaverillesi

Anne Birgitta Pessi


1 media contribution

Press/Media: Press / Media