SUSTE – Sustainable Stories in Early Childhood Education and Care

The project SUSTE aims at professional development of sustainability competences through multimodal storytelling in the context of Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC). The research focus is the mutual learning processes of participating practitioners, student teachers and researchers. The project has two phases: 1) to study how sustainability is currently envisioned and enacted in Finnish ECEC; 2) to arrange research circles, tutoring, workshops, and seminars for practitioners and student teachers.

The expected outcomes of the project are to prompt the development of new sustainability theories and practices, and enhance further dialogue between researchers and practitioners. Nordic perspectives of ECEC, contemporary aesthetic theory and arts-based practices, relational ontology and epistemology, and critical phenomenology influence the project.


SUSTE Project has been financed by the Swedish Cultural Foundation in Finland. The project reference group includes researchers from Stockholm University (Ingrid Engdal), University of Gothenburg (Tarja Karlsson Häikiö), and Norwegian University of Science and Technology (Mari Ann Letnes).

SUSTE Collaboration & Partners 2018-2021

Research assistance:

  • Sloyd and integrated curriculum in early childhood education: Maj Åberg-Hildén (2019-2020).
  • Children books, multimodality and visual practices in early childhood techer education: Ida-Lina Nyholm (2018-2020).
  • Research assistant: Suzanne Ekholm (2021).



  • Paper presentation Embodied Learning, Visual Practices and Multimodal Storytelling in Early Childhood Teacher Education at Bodily Learning International Conference, 23-24.4 2021, Trondheim.
  • EECERA SIG FORUM. Sustainability in Early Childhood Education.


  • Paper presentation accepted for EECERA 2020. Postponed until 2021.


  • Seminar for science teacher educators. Keynote about sustainability in Finnish teacher education (including preschool teachers), Lili-Ann Wolff, 13.11 2019, Hell, Norway.
  • Paper presentation The mission of early childhood education in the Anthropocene. Wolff, L-A, Skarstein, F. & Skarstein T. ECER 5.9 2019, Hamburg.
  • Paper presentation Developing sustainability education in Finnish ECEC – merging bits and pieces at EECERA, 20-23.8 2019, Thessaloniki.
  • Paper presentation Desires of the other. Multimodality and aesthetics in sustainability education at EECERA, 20-23.8 2019, Thessaloniki.
  • Paper presentation Sustainability education in Finnish early childhood Teacher Education. Why does policy fail? at EECERA, 20-23.8 2019, Thessaloniki.
  • Paper presentation Knowledge, understanding and values – early childhood student teachers’ views on species knowledge in the context of ESD, T. Skarstein & L-A Wolff. EECERA. 20-23.8 2019, Thessaloniki.
  • Seminar on sustainability in teacher education, 6.5.2019 (presentations by Kaihovirta, Wolff & Furu), Helsinki.
  • Presentation of SUSTE Research at HELSUS post doc meeting. 15.4 2019, Helsinki.
  • Presentation of the SUSTE project at HELSUS seminar 28.2 2019, Helsinki.


  • Paper presentation Narrativa och estetiska lärprocesser som hållbarhetspedagogik för de yngsta barnen at Nordic Conference on Environmental and Sustainability Education 2018, 25-26.10 2018, Örebro.
  • Paper presentation Sustainable Stories – Arts based storytelling and children´s learning about sustainability at  the conference Arts, Skills, and Future Learning, 12.10 2018, Helsinki.




Original photo: Lili-Ann Wolff, Thessaloniki, 2019.


  • Upcoming: Furu, A-C, Ekholm, S., Wolff, L-A & Kaihovirta, H. (2021). Early Childood Education Student Reflections on Sustainability and Learning. (Work in progress)
  • Upcoming: Wolff L-A (2021). Nature as experience and joint attention: How to engage toddlers outdoors. (Work in progress)


  • Kaihovirta, H. & Furu, A-C. (2021). Kroppslig laering, visuelle praksiser i og multimodale fortellinger i småbarnspedagogikk. In Kroppslig laering p. 170-183. Universitetsforlaget.
  • IN PRESS! Åberg-Hildén, M., Kaihovirta, H. (Ed.), Furu, C. & Wolff, L-A (2021). Barn slöjdar hållbart. Handbok för slöjd och skapande i småbarnspedagogik. SUSTE, University of Helsinki. PUBLIC IN MAY 2021 ON SUSTE WEB! (Open Access)




SUSTE project 2018-2021 has supported Bachelor and Master thesis processes for early childhood teacher students at the University of Helsinki.


  • 2021 Final Project Seminar Keynote Lyndal o´Gorman, Queensland University of Technology QUT, Australia:  Sustainability and the arts: Stories of disruption and possibility, Helsinki.
  • 2021 Suzanne Ekholm works as a research assistant for SUSTE.
  • 2019-2020 Ida-Lina Nyholm assisted SUSTE in co-teaching and research in the early childhood teacher education for the courses Visual Communication and Visual Arts (5 ECTS) and Children's Literature and Drama (5 ECTS), Helsinki.
  • 2019-2020 Maj Åberg-Hildén assisted SUSTE in teaching and research in early childhood teacher education and adult education for teachers in service, Helsinki, Espoo.
  • 2019 Workshops, seminars and addional courses for early childhood teachers in service, Helsinki, Pargas.
  • 2019 Co-organizing the seminar LÄSGLÄDJE. Helsinki Central Library Oodi.
  • 2019 Final course seminar at The National Museum Helsinki, Exhibition INHERIT THE DUST Nick Brandt, Helsinki.
  • 2019 Bachelor thesis Ekologisk hållbarhet på daghem (Malmberg), Helsinki.
  • 2019 Bachelor thesis Hållbar utveckling och bildkonst inom småbarnspedagogiken, möjligheter och begränsningar (Naski), Helsinki.
  • 2019 SUSTE supported teacher Christa Koski and the course Music and Movement (5 ECTS), with multimodal activities in Early Childhood and Care Education. Collaboration with Jonathan Lytz and Treehouse, Helsinki.
  • 2019 the contemporary artist Simon Gripenberg organized a pop-up AiR visit in early childhood teacher education in the course Crafts & Sloyd (5 ECTS), Helsinki.
  • 2019 Tuula Skarstein and Frode Skarstein, visiting researchers, University of Stavanger.
  • 2018 Keynote, Wolff L-A. Hållbar utveckling: Vägen från policy via lärarutbildning till daghem och skola (Sustainable development: The route from policy via teacher education to day care and school). University of Stavanger.

  • 2018 Researcher exchange at the University of Stavanger, Department of Early Childhood Education. Lili-Ann Wolff, 03-07.12.2018, Stavanger.

2018-2020 SUSTE has organized open lectures with the project reference group members Ingrid Engdal (SU), Mari Ann-Letnes (NTNU) and Tarja Häikiö Karlsson (UG) as KEYNOTES.