Anne Birgitta Pessi


    Research areas

  • 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
Further information on the affiliationKirkkososiologian professori / Professor in Church and Social Studies

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" (, 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.


Latest publications

  1. 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

  2. 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

  3. Significant Work Is About Self-Realization and Broader Purpose: Defining the Key Dimensions of Meaningful Work

    Martela, F. & Pessi, A. B., 26 Mar 2018, In : Frontiers in Psychology. 9, 15 p., 363.

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleScientificpeer-review

View all (254) »

Latest activities

  1. University Il Jaume, Castellon

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

    Activity: Visiting an external institution typesAcademic visit to other institution

  2. Stanford University

    Anne Birgitta Pessi (Visiting researcher)
    29 Dec 201716 Jan 2018

    Activity: Visiting an external institution typesAcademic visit to other institution

  3. Stanford University

    Anne Pessi (Visiting researcher)
    27 Dec 201715 Jan 2018

    Activity: Visiting an external institution typesAcademic visit to other institution

View all (367) »

Latest prizes

  1. Hyvä työ -palkinto

    Anne Birgitta Pessi (Recipient), 2018

    Prize: Prizes and awards

  2. 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

  3. Helsinki Challenge 2017 semifinalist

    Anne Birgitta Pessi (Recipient), 2017

    Prize: Prizes and awards

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Latest projects

  1. Europe Engage

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


    Project: Research project

  2. CoPassion: The Revolutionary Power of Compassion (CoPassion)

    Pessi, A. B., Martela, F., Spännäri, J., Grönlund, H., Hakanen, J., Juntunen, E., Uusitalo-Malmivaara, L., Vuorinen, K., Paakkanen, M. & Seppänen, A. M.

    Filosofian akatemia Oy, Conbalance Oy, Suomen kansallisgalleria (ent. Valtion taidemuseo), MTV Oy, Devoi Oy, Espoon kaupunki, LähiTapiola Keskinäinen vakuutusyhtiö, Abbedissa Network Oy, Onesto Services Oy, Human Advice Oy, Tekes


    Project: Research project

  3. 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

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