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Tero Mustonen: Disrupting the Status Quo


Tero Mustonen skis in Sarek National Park in Sweden on a fieldwork assignment. Credit: Tero Mustonen col-lection Tero Mustonen never set out to be a scientist. His first job after high school was as a wilderness guide, and he spent several years exploring his native country of Finland, as well as Canada and the United States. As a guide immersed in the natural world, he encountered Indigenous Peoples who also lived in close connection with the land: the Sámi in Finland, Native Americans in the United States, and First Nations groups of Canada.

Mustonen soon noticed that these groups, with their extensive environmental knowledge, were often left out of the decisionmaking process when it came to managing the lands they lived on. To draw attention to the value of the environmental knowledge that Indigenous Peoples have of their land and to argue for social justice for marginalized Indigenous communities, Mustonen enrolled in an undergraduate and then a master’s program in international relations at the University of Tampere in Finland.

“At the time, there was this notion of social justice and passion that you can change the world,” Mustonen said. “I hoped that my work could be one of the pieces to […]

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