The Future of Education

Edition 14

Accepted Abstracts

Creative Sustainability - how to create the basis for multidisciplinary sustainability studies in higher education

Tiina Laurila, Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture (Finland)

Susu Nousala, Aalto University, School of Arts, Design and Architecture (Finland)

Katri Pulkkinen, Aalto University, School of Engineering (Finland)


Sustainability as a topic is by its very nature complex. New approaches in pedagogy are required for the preparation of multidisciplinary university student teams engaged in studying these sustainability courses.

This paper presents the development of five specific courses based on longitudinal feedback gathered from the participatory experience from students and teachers. The combination of these courses is the basis of a programme Creative Sustainability. This programme and its courses provide a fluent approach and continuum in adapting holistic thinking, ways of learning with-in and beyond the complex context of sustainability-oriented studies.

The Master`s Programme in Creative Sustainability is a multidisciplinary learning platform launched at Aalto University, Finland in the autumn 2010. As a horizontal joint masters programme, Creative Sustainability operates across the School of Arts, Design and Architecture (Departments of Architecture and Design), School of Business (Department of Management Studies) and School of Engineering (Department of Real Estate, Planning and Geoinformatics). The horizontal nature of this programme has a capability bringing students together from different fields to study, as multidisciplinary teams. This approach increases understanding about the different disciplines and activates students to create new sustainable solutions for human, urban, industrial and business environments.

The programme provides the basis for further sustainability studies and positioning study within multidisciplinary teams created across five 2 ECTS courses: Creative Teamwork, Creating the Mindset of Sustainable Societies, Systems Thinking 1 and 2 and Continuous Transformation.

This paper expands on student engagement based on the dynamics between learning experiences and supporting structures. These types of contextually rich environments require specific preparation, focusing on student engagement and experience, ensuring a smooth transition post sustainability course work into their own disciplines.

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