“Innovations in education for sustainable future” in Turku 7.5.2019

Climate University researchers and teachers met in Turku on 7-8 May with the intention of getting a practical touch on how phenomenon based learning works in the context of sustainability challenges. The first day was organized by the University of Turku (and the second by the Turku University of Applied Sciences.)

The first day was divided into two parts, which were, however, seamlessly linked together. During the morning, we introduced the KEKO concept, the learning method of the University of Turku’s Sustainable Development Studies Program. In the afternoon, participants were given the opportunity to experiment with the methodology of futures studies. The idea was also to link the events of the day to the planning of the content of future “Sustainability.now” and “SystemsThinking.now” –courses.

Sustainable Development Training Program KEKO is a prospective Minor for all students at the University of Turku. It consists of a year-long core course (10 credits) as well as optional, sustainable development courses (minimum 15 credits) organized by different faculties and other universities and organizations. KEKO has been literally a phenomenon since birth. Since 2008, a multidisciplinary, long-term group-based and phenomenon learning- based course has brought together 40 students each year to reflect on the different dimensions and challenges of sustainable development. The year-long KEKO core course is long enough to look at complex phenomena and the student’s commitment to both sustainable development and teamwork. The KEKO year has been described by many students as a life-changing experience. “It’s probably the best course I have completed at the university” a former student recently described in his letter.

One of the key elements of KEKO is that most of the learning takes place in multidisciplinary teams, into which students are divided in the beginning of the year. Each team receives a theme, which is studied from the perspectives of the different dimensions of sustainable development. As an example, during this year, one of the themes was “Domestic use of fire-wood” and another one “Fashion”. During the year, students will gain an in-depth view of both their theme and the various dimensions of sustainable development: ecological, social, economic and cultural. Students learn that dimensions cannot be viewed in isolation, but they are all connected.

Above all, KEKO’s strength lies in the fact that students learn working life competence, dialogue, and what collective expertise and group intelligence mean in practice. During the KEKO course, students leave prejudices and learn to work in a team. Respect for other disciplines will increase. In  multidisciplinary teams, students learn to understand what they know and how their skills are related to the nature of the disciplines they study. It is also important that KEKO is a safe context for experimenting with co-operation and , sometimes, failure. KEKO offers a safe way to understand that no one in the world can change it alone. Things happen only by influencing and co-operating with others. Contradictions and their solutions are part of life.

During the Turku Workshop 7.5.2019, the perspective was in the afternoon changed to futures thinking and systems thinking as tools for making the sustainable futures: How could we strengthen the power of the co-learning and co-creating by using the idea of alternative futures as tools to dispose the possibilities that may exist at any (given) time and place? How could we start identifying the future images of various forms of sustainabilities as well as the relations and dynamics between them? Instead of pretending to “predict the future[i]“, a very classic method, a form of a futures table learns how to envision futures as an open and complex process with an endless flow of alternative images. It shows the power of narrating and innovating new paths for the future, and how multiple perspectives and even conflicting images must be taken into consideration as a basis for actions in the present.

[i] “The future” cannot be “predicted,” but “preferred futures” can and should be envisioned, invented, implemented, continuously evaluated, revised, and re-envisioned.” Jim Dator, Advancing Futures: Futures Studies in Higher Education. Westport, Connecticut: Praeger, 2002)

Blog by Sari Puustinen and Anna Kirveennummi, Finland Futures Research Centre, University of Turku

Photos: Laura Riuttanen

Welcome to Climate University workshop ‘Circular Economy and Renewable Energy’ in Lahti 10.-11.6.2019!

How to integrate climate change solutions and circular economy in teaching? What climate related projects are currently going on in the Lahti region? Warmly welcome to the workshop that is arranged as part of the Climate University project! The venue is the new Lahti campus Mukkula.

On Monday focus is e.g. on how Finland’s climate policy is put into practice in the Lahti region (Canemure project); how the City of Lahti offers companies opportunities for climate partnerships with Lahti Region Development and Lahti University of Applied Sciences (“Ilmastohaaste”); and how Lahti, as the first city in the world, trial a personal carbon trading scheme (CitiCAP project).

Tuesday starts with an excursion to renewable energy and waste/recycling facilities in the region. We visit Kymijärvi power plant, where a new bioenergy plant is being built in order to replace use of coal in 2020, and Kujala waste and recycling centre. The afternoon continues with how to integrate the digital learning material circular.now in teaching, and how to strengthen the connections to working life.

Please find the program here. The two-day workshop is held in English.

Sign up for the workshop here (until 3.6.): https://www.webropolsurveys.com/S/84CA1FA04D5BD321.par

Please feel free to forward the invitation.


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 goes Jyväskylä 29.3.

Next Climate University workshop is around the corner! Welcome to join – also remotely.

Climate University goes Jyväskylä: Teaching and learning for a sustainable future

Location: University of Jyväskylä, Ylistönrinne (Survontie 9), Ambiotica YA

Program, Fri 29th March 2019

8:30 Coffee
9:00 Opening words
Marja-Liisa Laakso, vice rector, University of Jyväskylä
9:15 Climate University, next steps
Laura Riuttanen & Mikko Äijälä, University of Helsinki
Sari Puustinen, University of Turku
Tina Nyfors, LUT University
Climate.now in Jyväskylä
Elisa Vallius, University of Jyväskylä
10:15 Commentary
Hannu Koponen, Development Manager, Regional Council of Central Finland
Tanja Tuulinen, Environmental education specialist, ELY Centre
Minna Salonen, Environmental specialist, Central Finland Health Care District 
10:45 Coffee
11:00 Jyväskylä perspectives:
Towards SDG’s – Nexus of water, Food and Energy
Tuula Tuhkanen, University of Jyväskylä
Resource wisdom
Janne Kotiaho, University of Jyväskylä
Intelligent learning spaces
Vesa Lappalainen, University of Jyväskylä
12:00 Lunch
13:00 Online learning: past, present and future
Tom Hatfield, University of North Carolina
13:30 Workshop: Climate University next steps
14:30 Conclusions
15:00 Adjourn

Further information:
Tuula Tuhkanen (040-5345120), Laura Riuttanen

**Event is full and registration closed, but you can still ask for extra spaces from Tuula.**

You can also participate remotely!
Link: https://meet.lync.com/jyu-fi/paulmasa/96C097G4
Host Pauliina Salmi

Climate University Challenges

Climate University is a project of 11 universities to develop and foster higher education on climate change and sustainability in Finland in 2019-2020, in collaboration with working life and schools.

As part of the project, we collect concrete sustainability challenges from working life, to which multidisciplinary groups of university students could propose solutions to. Challenges should connect either to

1) climate change: solutions, emissions, adaptation, attitudes…


2) sustainable development: ecological, social, economic, or cultural…

For example, in Autumn 2018 the “Leadership for sustainable change” course (www.leadforsust.fi), our students designed concrete project plans for change leadership towards circular economy.

The challenge should consist of:

  • title of the challenge
  • collaboration partner and contact person
  • description of the challenge
  • possible special requests regarding the solution / collaboration / schedule etc.

Challenges can be in English or in Finnish. We are happy to help you in the formulation of the challenge. First round of challenges is collected by 5 April 2019.

One or more of the challenges will be chosen to the Climate University Turku workshop 7.-8.5.2019, where we present innovation pedagogy to the university teachers. If your challenge is chosen to the workshop, we wish you could participate the workshop to present your challenge and hear the solutions. Idea is to further develop this collaborative concept and incorporate all the challenges to suitable university courses.

To join Climate University Challenges, send your proposal to Laura Riuttanen (firstname.surname a helsinki.fi).

Next Climate University workshops – registration open

Climate University is a joint project of 11 universities in Finland to foster climate change and sustainability education. In 2019-2020, we will produce new online courses and materials on these topics and arrange workshops for university teachers and other collaborators. The first Climate University workshop was held in Helsinki in November 2018, and the next ones are taking place in Jyväskylä 29.3.2019, and in Turku 7.-8.5.2019.

The Jyväskylä workshop, “Teaching and learning for sustainable future”, concentrates on the outcomes of the Climate University assessment of needs which was conducted in February 2019. Based on the assessment, we will collaboratively come up with the initial idea of the new materials to be produced within the Climate University project. We will also hear local perspectives, and commentary from collaborators and experts of various fields. See program for more details.

In the Turku workshop, “Innovations in education for sustainable future”, we demonstrate phenomenon based learning in sustainability challenges, as well as innovation pedagogy for sustainability challenges from the work-life. We will also learn how to utilize methods of the futures studies in education for sustainable future. Finalized proposals for the new Climate University materials will also be presented for commentary by the Climate University community in the Turku workshop.

Registration for Jyväskylä workshop is open until 21.3.: https://link.webropolsurveys.com/S/F1A80ED27F8001D0

Registration for Turku workshop is open until 30.4.: https://www.lyyti.fi/reg/climate_uni

Climate University assessment of needs open until Feb 28

The Climate University project will produce two open online courses (or learning materials) of 5 cr, and additional, smaller (1-2 cr) extensions to existing materials. During 2019-2020 we also have 8 more workshops. To best answer your needs, we ask for your opinions and comments on what kind of materials and workshops are needed. We would also like to hear your opinions regarding the formation of a Climate University network, as well as your  ideas on collaboration with schools and businesses. 

Your answers and opinions are extremely important, as this assessment query supports the CU network in decision-making!

The Climate University assessment of needs is now open until 28th February 2019, and welcomes your contribution at: https://elomake.helsinki.fi/lomakkeet/93639/lomake.html 

Parallel to that, for the users of Climate.now, we hope to hear of your user experiences. If you have attended or taught the Climate.now course, please answer the Climate.now feedback questionnaire at https://elomake.helsinki.fi/lomakkeet/95376/lomake.html (also until 28 February). This feedback is used to improve and update the course.

In case of comments or questions, don’t hesitate to contact us!

Mikko & Laura

New forums for climate education

Climate University was presented at Educa forum in Helsinki 25.-26.1.2019 at the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra’s Circular Campus stand. We presented the following online materials:

Figure: Laura Lakanen (LUT University) and Laura Riuttanen (University of Helsinki) presenting new online materials at Educa forum. 

Thank you for the kick-off!

Climate University was successfully kicked off 27.-28.11. in Helsinki. Warm thank you for all the 70+ participants, who enthusiastically took part in the city race, discussions on the future of the education, and co-designing of the education collaboration with schools, companies and the society! Collaboration is our key in solving climate change and sustainability crisis. More reports coming soon, so stay tuned. Now just: thank you all!


Photos by Stephany Mazon and Marko Huttula.