Prof Laura Kolbe, Professor of European History, University of Helsinki


DATE AND PLACE OF BIRTH:                                    9.9.1957, Bogota, Colombia


MARITAL STATUS:                                                         Spouse Thomas Forss, LL.M.B.Sc.(Econ)

                                                                                                 Children: Johannes (1987), Carolina (1989)


WORKING ADDRESS:                                                     PO Box 59

                                                                                                 00014 University of Helsinki



PRIVATE ADDRESS:                                                        Meritullinkatu 20A6

                                                                                                 00170 Helsinki





Student in 1977, Helsingin II Normaalikoulu

Master of Arts in 1982 in history, University of Helsinki

Ph.D. in 1988, University of Helsinki




Present function:               


2006-                                             Historian, Professor of European History, at the Department of History, University of Helsinki (26.5.2006- )


Previous functions:           


1982-1987                                    Historiographer for the Kulosaaren Kotiseutusäätio

1984-1992                                    Curator for the Museum of Marshal Mannerheim

1988-1990                                    Planner for the jubilee exhibition in connection with the 75th anniversary of Finland’s independence

1980-1993                                    Lecturer at the University of Helsinki

1994-                                             Docent of history at the University of Helsinki

1994-2005                                    Senior lecturer at the University of Helsinki

1996-2000                                    Adviser of Mrs Eeva Ahtisaari, wife of the President of Finland

1998-2002                                    Historiographer of City of Helsinki

2002-2006                                    Various research/teaching professions at University of Helsinki

2003-2006                                    Chief editor for Tiedepolitiikka (Journal for Science & Politics)

2007                                               Invited visiting fellow at Swedish Collegium for Advanced Studies                            




Several positions in various student organizations and in the Student Union of the University of Helsinki, including the alumni organizations


1991-2005                                    Member of the historic committee of the City of Helsinki

1986                                              Member of the International Planning History Group

2000-                                            Chair for scientific delegation at Finnish History Days in Lahti

1999-2005                                     Founder and President for Finnish Urban Research Society  

2004-                                             Member of the direction for Centre of Rural Studies at the University Helsinki 

2003- 2010                                    Scientific member in the Committee of translation for Finnish non-fiction literature in Swedish


2007-2009                                    Member of the Faculty Council of the Faculty of Arts

2006-2009                                    Member of the Department Council of the Department of History

2008 -2009                                   Member of the of the university collegium

2008 -                                            Founding member and member of the steering group of Master’s programme of European Studies, University of Helsinki

2010 -                                            Member of the Department Council at the Department of Philosophy, History, Culture and Art Studies


2000                                               Conference Convenor, 9th Conference of International Planning History                                                                               Society

2000-                                             Council Member of the International Planning History Society

2007-                                             Chair, network for university historians in Finland                              

2007-                                             Member of National Biography committee (SKS)

2007-                                             Member of the international editorial board of Planning Perspectives

2007-2010                                     President of the International Planning History Society

2010-                                             Member of the Board planning Studia Generalia at the University of Helsinki




1982-1991                                    Board member of the Helsinki Association

1993-                                                                    Board member of the museum of Marshal Mannerheim

1987                                                                      Member of the board of the Finnish Swedish Society

1994-2002                                    Member of the board of the Finnish Swedish Cultural Center, Hanasaari                                                                                                                                                                                                      

1996-2000                                    Member of Finland Society, representing Finns living abroad

2000-2006                                    Chair of the Finnish National Committee of the European
                                                        Cultural Foundation

2000-2005                                    President for summer music festival Sysmän Suvisoitto                             

2002-                                             European Cultural Foundation, member of the advisory board

2000-                                             Board member for Finland’s Benelux –Institute

1999-2000                                     Member of the working group for “Helsinki Forum” –

2006-                                             Member of the Title Board, chaired by the Prime Minister

2006-                                             Member of The State Committee for Public Information,  (vice chair)

2003-                                             Member of the City Council of Helsinki

2005 – 2008                                  Member of the city planning board, Helsinki

2008- 2010                                    Member of Maabrändivaltuuskunta, chaired by Minister of Foreign Affairs

2008 -                                            Member of the delegation of Paasikivi Society

2009 -                                            Member of the board of the Port of Helsinki

2010 -                                            Inspector of the student organization Eteläsuomalainen osakunta

2011 -                                            Member of Church Council at Tuomiokirkkoseurakunta

2011 -                                           Member of the Board of Directors of Yleisradio, national radio- and telvesion company in Finland


Working abroad               


Rome 1979, London 1985, Amsterdam 1991-1993, Uppsala 2007




1995: received decoration of Commandeur de Orde van Oranje-Nassau in the Netherlands

2000: received decoration of Knighthood of I Class, The Order of White Rose in Finland


Most important scientific honours


Research member of Finnish Historical Society 1995

International Planning History Society, Conference Governor 2000

Tieto-Finlandia - honorary prize for fiction literature 1991

Historian Ystäväin Liitto, The History Book of the Year 1996 - prize

Honorary medal, Student Union at the University of Helsinki 1997

Member of Societas Scientiarum Fennica 2005 –

State Award for Public Information 2006 (for being chair editor for Finnish Cultural History I-V)


Visits in foreign universities and institutions


Scientific course Villa Lante, Rome 1.2.-30.5.1980

Visiting younger scholar Sheffield University, history, spring 1985

Visiting younger scholar Universitet van Amsterdam, history, spring 1992

Visiting teacher, Joensuun yliopisto, historian laitos 4. – 10.4.2003

Visiting teacher, Ludvig-Maximilan Universität, München, fennougristiikan laitos, 2.5. – 20.5.2003 (CIMO)                                       


Scientific books (monographs)


Kulosaari - unelma paremmasta tulevaisuudesta (Kulosaari - A Dream of a Better Future), doctoral thesis, 1988


Traditio - murros - jatkuvuus? Helsingin II Normaalikoulu 1869-1994 (Tradition - Crisis - Continuity? A History of the oldest lyceum for girls in Finland), 1994


Sivistyneistön rooli . Helsingin Yliopiston Ylioppilaskunta 1945-1959  (The Role of the Educated Elite, History of the Student Union of the University of Helsinki 1944-1959), 1993


Eliitti, traditio, murros. Helsingin Yliopiston Ylioppilaskunta 1960-1990  (Elite in the Modern Society, History of the Student Union of the University of Helsinki 1960-1990), 1996


Helsinki kasvaa suurkaupungiksi – julkisuus, politiikka, hallinto ja kansalaiset 1945-2000 (Helsinki Becomes a Metropol – The Publicity, Politics, Administration and Citizens). 2002


Yhteistä turvallisuutta rakentamassa. Maanpuolustuskurssiopetuksen –ja yhdistyksen vaiheita 1961-2011 (Creating Common Safety. The History of National Defence Courses and National Defence Society 1961-2011), 2011


Publications intended for the general public


Hotelli Kämp, 1985 (new edition in 1989, 2003)


Kuningatar Kristiina - aikansa eurooppalainen (Queen Christina – A European of Her Time) & M. Klinge, M-L. Nevala, P. Setälä, 1990


Suomen ylioppilas (The Student of Finland) & M. Klinge, 1991


Kreivitär Eva Mannerheim Sparren keittokirja  ("Countess Eva Mannerheim Sparre", preface in 6.ed. of the famous cook Baroness Eva Mannerheim Sparre’s cook book, new edition) & A-M. Tanttu, 1995


Alankomaat – pieni suuri maa (The Netherland – a Big Small Country) & A. Gardberg & P. Saukkonen), 1997


Havis Amanda, & H. Nevalainen, 1998


Soi sana kultainen. Maamme-laulun viisitoista vuosikymmentä (Our Land. The 150 year of National Anthem) & R. Valjus & J. Wrede, 1998


Suomi – maa, kansa, kulttuuri (Finland – Its People, Country and Culture) & M. Löytönen, Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Seuran toimituksia 753, 1999


Helsinki – The Dauhgter of Baltic Sea, & M. Klinge, also in Finnish, Swedish, Freanch, German and Russian, 1999, 2 ed. 2007


Onks’ ketään kotona? Kasvatuksen suuntaa etsimässä (Anybody at home? New Paths for Child Education) & K. Järvinen, 2002


Suomen kulttuurihistoria I-V (Cultural History of Finland I-V), Chief Editor L. Kolbe, 2002 – 2006


Oma maa vai maailma? Suomen kulttuurihistoria III (Own Country or the World. Cultural History of Finland III) & A. Kervanto Nevanlinna, 2003


Kaupungissa kasvanut. Ajasta, kaipuusta, muistoista, häpeästä, (Grown in the City: on Time, Memory, Longing), 2005


Portraying Finland. Facts and Insights.  Chief Editor. 2005, 2 ed, 2008, also in French, German, Spanish


Unelmien Helsinki – kadut ja korttelit kertovat (Helsinki – A Dream City), Helsinki: Minerva, 2007


Luokkaretkellä hyvinvointiyhteiskunnassa (Class Journey and Welfare Society), 2007, & K. Järvinen


Helsinki 1918; pääkaupunki ja sota (Helsinki in 1918: Capital City and Civil War), & S. Nyström, 2008


Helsinki City Hall: History and Fine Food, &. P. Puhakka, 2008


Dittmar & Indrenius 110. Asianajotoimisto suomalaisen liike-elämän kumppanina. Toimituskunnan puheenjohtaja L. Kolbe, Helsinki, 2009


Ihanuuksien ihmemaa – suomalaisen itseymmärryksen jäljillä, 2010


Educational video cassettes


Suomalainen eurooppalainen” Tietävä ihminen –videosarja 7. Painatuskeskus, Helsinki, 1994


"Tieteen uudet tuulet" (“New Questions and Actualities in History Research”)

Historiantutkimuksen uudelleenarviointi, Educational cassette, University of Helsinki, Lahden tutkimus- ja koulutuskeskus, 1995.




The manuscript for a www-portal for Finnish Tourism and Culture, Ministry of Education and Board for Finnish Tourism/Evergreen, manus, 2002


Member of Country Branding Group in Finland 2009-2010, planning its publication (maabärndiraportti 22.11.2010) Consider it solved! Tehtävä Suomelle! Miten Suomi ratkaisee mailman viheliaisimpiä ongelmia.


Over 300 popular scientific articles as well as TV- programmes relating especially to urban, social, academic history and mentalities, schools and student life, middle class family life and values, The Mannerheim family and its history, housing and planning history, women’s history and Finland’s position and national identity in the Scandinavian and European context.


A columnist for several Finnish daily newspapers

* Uusi Suomi 1991-1993

* Ilta-Sanomat 1993-1995

* Kaleva 2003 –

* Suomen Lääkärilehti 2005 -

* Ylioppilaslehti, Yliopisto –lehti, Hufvudstadsbladet, Keskisuomalainen etc.