What kind of new educational materials do we need?

In this post we’ll an update on the Climate University needs assessment

Starting point: what are the skills needed to solve the grand challenges of climate change and sustainability?

One of the main aims of the Climate University project is to produce new educational materials based on the needs of the Finnish higher education field. The selection of materials is based on what materials are most needed in climate and sustainability education in Finnish universities.  In addition to wholly new materials we will produce smaller additions to the popular Climate.now (http://www.climatenow.fi/ ) To support the decisions on selection of materials, a needs assessment was conducted earlier this year.

In November 2018, we held the first kick-off workshop in Tiedekulma, at the University of Helsinki. The opening theme in the kick-off workshop was to examine the question of

“What kind of expertise (education) is needed in the near future, in order to answer the challenges of climate change and sustainability?”

After an interactive urban orienteering –themed interview of experts from various branches of the Finnish society, the workshop participants had a lively discussion on what the relevant skills and areas of expertise would be. Summarised, the main areas considered crucial for future education in the discussion were:

  • Multi-disciplinarity – crossing the traditional borders of natural (or technical, engineering) vs human (sociological) sciences is necessary
  • Holistic understanding of the challenges is required and systems thinking is important. It is important to try to see the bigger picture and not look at the challenges from a single, narrow angle
  • Impactful decisions are based on data and statistics, to but it is equally important to keep in mind the personal, human perspective (choices, values, ethics, principles) and create an emotional connection to the challenges, to bring about change in the society
  • Values and ethics should be included in the discussion of climate change and sustainability.
  • Science communication is key. Academic knowledge needs to be communicated to the decision makers, but academics equally need to understand political decision-making
  • Including the private sector and markets in answering the challenges and considering finances and the economics is needed, and (green technology) business opportunities and innovations need to be recognized. However, focusing too much on innovations and technical solutions may hinder grasping the bigger picture of the challenges.
  • Consumer perspective is important to consider – green choices need to be made easy. Sustainability education (in e.g. circular economy) in schools is necessary, to educate responsible citizens and customers of the future.

Specifically, we were urged by the participants not to fall for “silo mentality” or to classify materials of questionnaire themes by typical topical classifications. Therefore, the above listed themes were adopted as the basis for themes charted in the needs assessment questionnaire. Based on the project plan and the kick-off workshop feedback, both described above, a survey form was drafted. The survey was implemented using an online questionnaire and was answers were collected from January to March 2019.

The needs assessment survey: what did we as a community find important?

The survey received in total 49 responses. Most of the responses were from University personnel, which is the largest group of people forming the Climate University community. The respondents backgrounds were distributed rather evenly among the Finnish universities and the respondents generally represented more than one faculty or department at each university. Additionally to the universities’ representatives, we received multiple answers from other sections of the society such as schools, NGO’s and government institutes.


In the “Materials” section of the questionnaire we asked the respondents to evaluate (i) the levels of need for materials and (ii) the respective expertise in their potential production in their organisation. The question included a numeric answer on a scale of 1 to 5 to each of the seven themes selected as well as a freeform additional comment (optional). The distribution of answers by the themes is shown below:

In addition to the averages and standard deviations of the numerical answers, we additionally calculated the difference between the need and expertise reported by the participants. This difference, which we here labeled “skill gap” can be taken to represent the need of outside expertise (or similarly the capability to offer expertise to others, if expertise > need; i.e. skill gap is negative). Please note this calculation is not a robust scientific one, but rather arbitrary metric we derived to have at least some measure for the overall balance of needs and expertise, as well as a measure of need for collaboration between the various universities.

From the statistics, we proposed three conclusions can be drawn:

  • The overall demand is highest (mean of ‘need’) for the two themes as of multi-disciplinarity and holistic understanding.
  • For the themes of ethics and values and consumer perspective, the discrepancy between estimated need and expertise (mean skill gap) is the highest, indicating an overall lack of expertise on these topics among the participating organisations.
  • The consumer perspective and private sector and markets themes feature the widest distributions (highest standard deviation) of ‘skill gap’, which we propose could be taken as a sign that co-operation between the organisations would be especially beneficial in these topics.

Freeform comments

Of the themes offered, multi-disciplinarity and holistic understanding  gathered the largest amount of supporting comments and propositions, e.g.:

“Especially in the technical areas, we need to be exposed to a view of the whole and how our endeavours fit in to healing the human condition and the planet!”

“I think we could make use of more material/cases on the holistic understanding of reasons behind climate change”

“Ilmastonmuutos systeemiajattelun valossa”

“Risk assessment, perception and communication”

The themes of consumer perspective, science communication private sector and markets also well represented among the comments:

“How to cooperate with companies and other organizations on climate issues: project work module” (Private sector and markets)

“New technological innovations emerging from the need to cut down carbon emissions – dealing with energy production, mobility solutions and businesses” (Private sector and markets)

“Not very much integrated to present  curriculum? Is of great importance.” (Science communication)

“Miten nostaa ilmastoaihe vakavaan keskusteluun monialaisessa ja kiireen vaivaamassa organisaatiossa? Miten puhutellaan johtoa tehokkaasti? Miten saadaan organisaatiosta irti parhaat tehot ilmastokysymyksessä?” (Science communication)

“reasoned discussion on how encouraging individual choices might spill over into demands on better regulation – instead of mutual stand-still & wait” (Consumer perspective)

“Yes, this is important  but why do we still want to talk about customers and consumers? People are becoming producers, and individuals’ role should be rethought.” (Consumer perspective)

Outside of the pre-selected themes, multiple respondents suggested in the freeform comments that a basic course on sustainability would be needed:

“Basics of sustainability e.g. based on planetary boundary and donut approaches. Explanations on each of the themes presented in both approaches.”

“Introduction to Sustainability: We propose a on-line course “Introduction to Sustainability” to provide  comprehensive basic/starting knowledge and skills for master students with various backgrounds.”

“On behalf of research group LUT/School of Energy Systems/Sustainability Science: Digital course “Introduction to Sustainability” to provide an overview of the variety of sustainability issues related to natural resources, technologies, sustainable and profitable business models, climate changes, food and water, systemic thinking etc.”


Summarising the survey results – the main conclusions:

  • – Themes considered most important: inter-disciplinarity and holistic understanding
  • – Sustainability (introductionary) course was mentioned and wished for many times!
  • – Topics that got several mentions, and align well with project goals: Industry / business collaboration and school collaboration
  • – Science communication raised many positive comments and was seen as important
  • – Other possible topics for smaller materials include for example
  • Climate change in Arctic/ Nordic areas, Ethics & values, Consumer perspective & active citizenship, Climate Law and
  • Data basis

Further developing the ideas

In the second Climate University workshop, held at the University of Jyväskylä 28.-29. March 2019, the results so far from the questionnaire were presented to the wider Climate University community.

From the basis of the survey result and discussion in the workshop, we decided to go forward with two main themes: (1) Introduction course to sustainability and (2) an ambitious, advanced course of systems thinking for unde4rstanding global change. We also decided to pursue smaller courses / materials for school and private sector co-operation, namely (3) a high school level online course based on Climate.now and (4) a project course based on working life challenges from industry and other collaborating partner organisations. There were also several ideas for smaller materials, the ideas of which we decided to refine.

The preliminary concepts for the four primary materials were discussed in small working groups in a session of the Jyväskylä workshop. Based on the survey results and preceding discussion, the groups discussed the concepts and summarized their ideas in form of quick posters. These ideas will add to the material available for further refinement of the course and material concepts.

To be continued…

Working groups have now been assigned for preliminary planning and refining of the ideas, and we will give an update of the progress at the next workshop in Turku, in May 7 to 8th. You are most welcome to discuss these materials and interesting themes with us!

The final needs assessment report, 14 May 2019.

Innovations in education for sustainable future 7.-8.5. – register now!

Climate University goes Turku 7.-8.5.: Innovations in education for sustainable future

During the first day of the Turku workshop, Tuesday 7.5., we will demonstrate how phenomenon based learning works in the context of sustainability challenges. By showing the many interlinkages between the different dimensions of sustainable development we will learn how to utilize holistic and systemic thinking for sustainable futures. The proposals for the new Climate University materials will be presented and the future plans discussed further by utilizing futures methods. The first day is hosted by the University of Turku, and it will be in Finnish.
The second day,  Wednesday 8.5., demonstrates how innovation pedagogy tools can tackle the sustainability challenges from the Climate University work-life collaborators. We hear the challenges by the company representatives and will workshop them together with educator Jens Gijbels form Fundamentals Academy. The second day is hosted by the Turku University of Applied Sciences, and it will be in English.

Program and registration: https://www.lyyti.fi/reg/climate_uni


Also registration to the next Climate University workshop is now open! Workshop on Circular economy and renewable energy solutions will be hold in Lahti 10.-11.6.2019.

Check the coming workshops, as well as greetings from the past two workshops, from the Climate University blog: https://blogs.helsinki.fi/climateuniversity/workshops/

Summary of the Jyväskylä workshop 29.3.2019

“Climate University goes Jyväskylä – teaching and learning for sustainable future” workshop was held in Jyväskylä on 29 March 2019

Vice rector of the Univeristy of Jyväskylä, Professor Marja-Leena Laakso opening the Climate University goes Jyväskylä workshop. Photo by Laura Riuttanen.

Opening words by Marja-Leena Laakso, Vice Rector of the University of Jyväskylä

Vice rector Marja-Leena Laakso warmly welcomed nearly 50 participants across disciplines and institutes to the second Climate University workshop. In her opening words, she addressed the need for education in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to stop global warming. As a Professor of Early Childhood Education, she brought up the worry of children and the young on their future environment. However, at the end of her speech the vice rector said: “There is hope”. The timely role of Climate University project as a producer of high-quality digital education material was appreciated and acknowledged by the vice rector. For us members of the established Climate University network, her opening words were of great worth.

Video recording of the opening can be viewed here.

Aims of the Climate University

Project coordinator Laura Riuttanen outlined the aims of the Climate University project for the next two years: to make two new moocs (massive open online courses) and smaller additional material to existing Climate.now course. Laura Riuttanen’s presentation can be viewed in the link above, directly after Professor Marja-Leena Laakso’s presentation. Mikko Äijälä presented results of the online questionnaire sent for participants prior to the workshop. The message was that a holistic, interdisciplinary approach in education material is called for, with new focus areas on consumerism and ethics.

Commentary from working life

After Laura Riuttanen’s and Mikko Äijälä’s floors, we heard views of Development Manager Hannu Kapanen from Regional Council in Central Finland, Environmental Education Specialist Tanja Tuulinen from ELY centre and Environmental Specialist Minna Salonen from Cental Finland Health Care District. The need of communication skills in working life was emphasized, and the reliable, timely information for stakeholders, politicians and health care personnel called for.

After these floors a vigorous and excited conversation broke out. Comments on the need for popularization of science were thrown by several participants. The need of good communication and pedagogic skills were recognized by the audience, too. Student delegates were concerned about co-operating with emotion-based actions and unwillingness to contemplate new environmental information.

Holistic and nexus approaches

You may leave the village but the village never leaves you” crystallized Professor Tuula Tuhkanen, the local host, in her presentation referring to her work on sanitation in developing countries. Professor Tuhkanen initialized a nexus approach to the Sustainable Development Goals of United Nations to be implemented as a part of the new Sustainability.now mooc. There will be a Jyväskylä Summer school short course in 5-8.8.2019.

Professor Janne Kotiaho introduced the recently established School of Resource Wisdom. The Wisdom is a University of Jyväskylä’s network for scientists pursuing well-being for all the species inhabiting the Earth. Professor Kotiaho’s presentation opened the dialog between Climate University and the Wisdom network.

In the end of this session, Lecturer Vesa Lappalainen brought regards from the Faculty of Information Technology by presenting the online-learning open technology that his team has been developing and that could contribute to the aims of the seminar participants.

Past, present and future of online education

As a concluding presentation of the day, we had a live stream by Professor Thomas Hatfield from the State University of California. Professor Hatfield overviewed the past, present and future of online education. Compared to the situation a couple of decades ago, the communication has improved – not only in terms of hardware and software, but also in terms of interaction. Online platforms enable immediate answers to student’s questions. The important future aspects according to Professor Hatfield were incorporating artificial intelligence to assist in online courses and feasible transfer of credits across institutes. He stressed that “the real meaning of online learning, however, does not come from the computers and programs. It comes from the professor-student interaction”. He emphasized co-operation and building of trust, which suited well in the context of Climate University workshop. Recorded presentation by prof. Hatfield can be viewed here.

Working in small groups

In the end of the seminar day, the participants formed five small groups and discussed about each of their own topics regarding the material that the Climate Univeristy will produce. The two courses and thus two groups took working names of Sustainability.now and Solutions.now following the previously established nomenclature of Climate.now. Third group started outlining the possible plug-ins to the Climate.now -course based on the experiences on using the material on bachelor level courses. Fourth group discussed about the climate education in primary schools. The fifth group was planning how the concrete working-life related innovations will be implemented as a part of the Climate University project.  In the near future, the more precise contents of the actions of the Climate University will be established, and these discussions were a good basis for that.

The Climate University goes Jyväskylä was a successful event, incorporating experts to exchange information horizontally and prepare educational plans in a constructive atmosphere. Jyväskylä warmly thanks the Climate University project management (Laura Riuttanen and Mikko Äijälä), the seminar speakers and participants for accepting the invitation to visit us. See you next time in Turku!

Text by: Pauliina Salmi, University of Jyväskylä 

Workshop was held at the University of Jyväskylä Mattilanniemi campus, aside the beautiful lake Jyväsjärvi. Photo by Laura Riuttanen. 


Climate University -julkilausuma lukion opetussuunnitelmasta: ehdotus valtakunnallisesta ja maksuttomasta ilmastonmuutos-verkkokurssista

Climate University -työpajoissa Helsingissä ja Jyväskylässä koettiin tärkeäksi ottaa kantaa lukion opetussuunnitelmauudistukseen. Laadimme opetushallitukselle 11.4.2019 toimitettavan julkilausuman (alla), jonka voi allekirjoittamassa  osoitteessa



Tiedeyhteisö on yksimielinen siitä, että ilmastonmuutos on merkittävä ihmiskuntaa uhkaava ilmiö. Ilmastonmuutoksen ratkaisemisessa seuraavat 10-12 vuotta ovat kriittiset (IPCC 2018). Tämä heijastuu ilmastobarometrissa, jossa 80 % suomalaisista katsoo, että ilmastonmuutoksen hillitseminen edellyttää uutta osaamista (Ilmastobarometri 2019). Nuorisobarometrin mukaan ilmastonmuutos koetaan myös nuorten keskuudessa yhä isommaksi uhaksi (Nuorisobarometri 2019). Onkin erittäin tärkeä varmistaa, että lukion opetussuunnitelmassa on turvattu riittävästi ilmastonmuutokseen  liittyvää valtakunnallista ja ratkaisukeskeistä opetusta.

Climate University (https://blogs.helsinki.fi/climateuniversity/) on 11 korkeakoulun, toisen asteen oppilaitosten, yritysten ja muiden yhteistyötahojen verkosto, jossa kehitetään monitieteistä verkko-opetusta kestävästä kehityksestä ja ilmastonmuutoksesta. Climate Universityä rahoittaa opetus- ja kulttuuriministeriö sekä Sitra. Tämä julkilausuma on valmisteltu Climate Universityn piirissä ja allekirjoittaneet antavat sille tukensa.

Ehdotamme, että lukion opetussuunnitelmaan lisätään valtakunnallinen Ilmastonmuutos-verkkokurssi.

Uudistetun lukiolain 8 §:ään (714/2018) on linjattu tarve lisätä korkeakoulujen ja lukioiden välistä yhteistyötä. Kaikilla lukiolla ei ole mahdollista järjestää tätä yhteistyötä ilman verkko-opetusta, esimerkiksi sijainnista johtuen.

Tämän vuoksi ehdotamme, että lukioasteelle perustetaan maksuton, valtakunnallinen, korkeakoulujen kanssa yhteistyössä tehtävä verkkokurssi, jonka sisältönä on ilmastonmuutos ja sen ratkaiseminen. Tällaisen verkkokurssin pohjana voi toimia jo olemassa oleva korkeakoulujen yhteistyönä toteutettu monialainen Ilmasto.nyt (Climate.now) -verkko-opintokokonaisuus.

Ehdotamme, että kurssi sijoitetaan opetussuunnitelmassa osaksi temaattisten opintojen kokonaisuutta ja sen laajuus on 2 opintopistettä.

Ilmastonmuutos-verkkokurssi toteuttaa lukion opetussuunnitelman arvoperustaa

Kiitämme, että lukion opetussuunnitelman perusteiden luonnoksessa (LOPS 2021-luonnos) huomioidaan hyvin ne tiedot ja taidot, joita tarvitaan sopeutumisessa ilmastonmuutoksen aikakauden vaatimuksiin ja ratkaisujen löytämiseen, ks. kohdissa 2.2 Arvoperusta, 3.4 Toimintakulttuuri (teemat: Hyvinvointi ja kestävä tulevaisuus sekä Osallisuus ja yhteisöllisyys) ja 6.2. laaja-alaisen osaamisen tavoite (eettisyys ja ympäristöosaaminen, mm. tutkimustietoon perustuva ilmasto-osaaminen).

Ehdotetun korkeakoulujen toteuttaman ilmastonmuutos-verkkokurssin tarkoituksena on toteuttaa opetuksessa edellä mainittuja opetussuunnitelman luonnoksen tavoitteita.

Ilmastonmuutosta käsitellään ehdotetulla ilmastonmuutos-verkkokurssilla eri tieteenalojen näkökulmasta monipuolisesti. Kurssi rakentuu kestävän kehityksen mukaiseksi kokonaisuudeksi, jossa painottuvat ratkaisukeskeisyys ja opiskelijan toimijuus ja taidot. Opiskelija tunnistaa ilmastonmuutoksen vaikutukset yhteiskuntaan yksilön ja yhteisöjen näkökulmasta tieteeseen ja tutkimukseen pohjautuen. Opiskelija kasvaa tarkastelemaan ilmastonmuutosta eri ratkaisuista ja tiedonlähteistä käsin sekä ymmärtää omat toimintamahdollisuutensa.

Ilmastonmuutos-verkkokurssi toteuttaa ja vahvistaa korkeakouluyhteistyötä ja digitaitoja

Lukion opetussuunnitelman perusteiden luonnoksen (LOPS 2021-luonnos) mukaan lukion opetus ja muu toiminta järjestetään siten, että opiskelijoilla on yhtäläiset ja monipuoliset mahdollisuudet saada tietoa ja kokemuksia korkeakouluopiskelusta (3.6 Korkeakouluyhteistyö). Lisäksi luonnoksen mukaan opiskeluympäristöä laajennetaan oppilaitoksen ulkopuolelle tieto- ja viestintäteknologian avulla (3.3 Opiskeluympäristöt ja -menetelmät).

Kiinnitämme huomiota, että LOPS2021-luonnoksessa on huomioitu lukiolain vaatima yhteistyö korkeakoulujen kanssa tavoitetasolla. Nämä tavoitteet ovat tunnistettu hyvin, mutta tavoitteiden toteutumista ei ole turvattu kurssitasolla valtakunnallisesti. Valtakunnallinen ja maksuton verkkokurssi edistäisi korkeakouluyhteistyön toteutumista yhdenvertaisesti koko Suomessa  ja vastaisi LOPS2021-luonnoksen edellä mainittuihin opiskeluympäristöihin ja korkeakouluyhteistyöhön liittyviin tavoitteisiin. Näin jokaisella opiskelijalla on mahdollisuus saada aidosti kokemusta korkeakoulujen toteuttamasta opetuksesta. Ilmastonmuutos-verkkokurssin jälkeen opiskelijan voisi halutessaan syventää opintojaan korkeakoulujen tarjoamilla kursseilla.

Opetussuunnitelma ohjaa opetusta useita vuosia, joiden aikana myös tieto ilmastonmuutoksesta ja siihen liittyvistä toimintakeinoista ehtii muuttua. Verkkokurssin vahvuutena on mahdollisuus päivittää ja muokata tietoa joustavasti. Ilmastonmuutos-verkkokurssi, jota korkeakoulut yhdessä ylläpitävät ja päivittävät, vastaisi tähän tarpeeseen ja takaisi jokaiselle lukiolaiselle ajantasaisen tiedon ilmastonmuutoksesta ja keinoista, jolla siihen voi sopeutua ja vaikuttaa. Jokainen lukiolainen saisi myös arvokasta kokemusta verkko-oppimisesta.

Climate University -toimijat ovat valmiita tuottamaan ilmastonmuutosverkkokurssin lukioille

Climate University tuottaa verkkokursseja ilmasto- ja kestävyysaiheista 2019-2020. Climate University -toimijat ovat valmiita tuottamaan ilmastonmuutosverkkokurssin lukioille yhteistyössä 11 korkeakoulun, toiseen asteen oppilaitosten sekä muiden yhteistyökumppanien kanssa: https://blogs.helsinki.fi/climateuniversity/who-are-we.

Julkilausuma luovutetaan Opetushallitukselle 11.4.2019. Me allekirjoittaneet annamme tukemme sille, että lukion opetussuunnitelmaan lisätään yllä ehdotetun lailla valtakunnallinen ja maksuton ilmastonmuutos-verkkokurssi. Olemme valmiita tuottamaan sen Climate Universityn 11 korkeakoulun, toisen asteen oppilaitosten sekä muiden Climate University -toimijoiden kanssa.


Voit halutessasi allekirjoittaa julkilausuman osoitteessa: