Participate / Doctoral Network

Discover the Joy of Learning: 5 Highlights from the INVEST Conference

Anastasiia Petrova presenting at the INVEST conference

Introduction to the INVEST Conference

The INVEST conference was an extraordinary event that brought together a diverse group of researchers and professionals. Hello! I am Anastasiia, a doctoral student working on the PARTICIPATE project with other incredible doctoral candidates. I am conducting research at the University of Turku, where the INVEST Research flagship centre recently organised a conference about digitalisation and social inequality. Today’s blog post will tell you more about the university, the research centre, and the INVEST conference.

About the University of Turku

Located in Finland, the University of Turku is one of the country’s largest universities by student enrollment. Established in 1920, it has a longstanding tradition of academic excellence and a solid commitment to research. The university’s motto, “the gift of a free nation to free science,” accurately describes its core values and beliefs. The atmosphere and structure of the university encourage students and faculty alike to immerse themselves deeply in research. Various university departments organise numerous conferences, brown bag sessions, open seminars, and discussions, fostering an environment of continuous academic exchange.

The INVEST Research Flagship Centre

One prominent domain is the INVEST Research flagship centre, a hub of interdisciplinary collaboration with which I am affiliated as a doctoral student. INVEST, which stands for Inequalities, Interventions, and New Welfare State, is a research centre comprising several teams working in the fields of psychology, sociology, child psychiatry, epidemiology, statistics, and more. As a robust research ecosystem, INVEST organised its first conference open to external participants in May 2024, which I had the privilege of attending.

Highlights from the INVEST Conference

The INVEST conference gathered around 200 participants and focused on topics such as digitalisation, social inequality, and behavioural changes. Spanning two days and featuring 24 parallel sessions, the conference enjoyed the finest weather Turku has to offer. The organisation of this event facilitated the establishment of new connections and fostered enlightening conversations about various research topics. Among the many exciting presentations, I particularly remember the keynote speech by Vili Lehdonvirta titled “Welfare and Education in the Age of Cloud Empires.” Lehdonvirta used storytelling to guide the audience through his presentation, discussing the concept of INVEST’s new welfare state model. This concept suggests complex, targeted interventions that can help create a new welfare model for a rapidly changing society, making it more socially and economically sustainable. His talk was inspiring, accompanied by clear examples and a thought-provoking discussion afterwards.

Inspiration from Peer Relation Sessions

Moreover, the parallel “Peer Relation” session was incredibly insightful for my research topic. I was thrilled to hear new ideas and inspiring results from speakers such as Claire Garandeau, Daniela Victoria Chávez, Daniel Graf, Tiina Turunen, and Esther Bernasco. Their presentations were not only exciting but also highly motivating, providing valuable insights and potential directions for my own research.

Future of the INVEST Conference

Jani Erola, the head of the INVEST research project, shared his vision of organising such conferences annually, a prospect that fills me with excitement. The experience has left a lasting impression on me, igniting a strong desire to participate in future events. I look forward to sharing, discussing, and gathering more knowledge and ideas for my research at these conferences. This inaugural INVEST conference has proven to be a milestone in my academic journey, highlighting the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration and the impact of well-organised academic events in fostering innovation and progress in research.

Conclusion: The University of Turku and INVEST’s Commitment to Excellence

In conclusion, the University of Turku and the INVEST Research flagship centre provide a nurturing environment for academic and research excellence. The recent INVEST conference on digitalisation and social inequality was a testament to the university’s commitment to fostering meaningful academic exchange and addressing pressing societal issues. As I continue my doctoral studies, I am eager to engage more deeply with the academic community, contribute to ongoing discussions, and leverage the knowledge gained from such enriching experiences. The INVEST conference has not only broadened my horizons but also reaffirmed my commitment to advancing research in my field.


By Anastasiia Petrova

Anastasiia Petrova presenting at the INVEST conference