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:


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

Summary of the Climate University kick off workshop in Helsinki 27.-28.11.2018

The first Climate University workshop was organized in Tiedekulma, in Helsinki, in November 2018. Below, you will find a short summary of the main events, discussions and conclusions of this kick-off workshop.


Opening of the event

The event was opened by Chancellor Kaarle Hämeri and Chief Digital Officer (CDO) Jaakko Kurhila from University of Helsinki. Chancellor Hämeri highlighted the mission of universities of bringing science to the society – this aspect is also at the heart of our project of bringing together actors from various branches of the society with a common agenda of answering the climate and sustainability challenges in the field of education.


CDO Kurhila proposed an idea of a digital constitution for universities, an idea that is certainly timely at a moment when in addition to digital materials and services, as also education is adapting more and more online–oriented teaching and learning methods.


Orientation and orienteering: what is needed to solve the sustainability crisis?

The first activity of the first day was “urban orienteering”, where the participants were tasked to find the answer for the underlying, major question of the entire CU project:

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

To answer this, the participants toured the city in small groups and interviewed people from various government institutes, NGOs, economic experts and many other relevant societal actors.

The weather favored us, with a sunny day and overall it seemed the orienteering activity was well received!




The thoughts and findings of the orienteering were summarized in the afternoon. The groups’ reports were thoughtful and varied, but some main themes seemed to emerge. In synthesis, the expertise and skills that were found to be the ones most acutely needed were:

·         Multidisciplinary – 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

·         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.

We were very impressed with the results of this activity, and the thoughtful analysis of the groups, and proposed these topics also to be taken as the basis for our needs assessment that was recently conducted!







Innovation workshop: how can universities and private sector come together to advance education?

On Tuesday afternoon, we delved into the topic of collaborating over the traditional borders of academia and private sector. We had a delightfully broad representation from our partner companies and other organizations (Sitra, Climate Leadership Coalition, NollaE oy, Useless Company, Demos Helsinki, ESRI Finland, AW-Energy, CGI, Pöyry, Nordea, Climate-KIC), who first presented their perspectives on climate and sustainability challenges and prospects for collaboration on educational activities.

We then divided the participants to groups which included representatives both from education sector and businesses, and tasked them to come up with forms of collaboration that would be beneficial for both the companies and the universities. Again, the outcome was a thoughtful discussion that identified many of the challenges but also potential solutions for them. As a summary, the main conclusions were the following.

  • There are incentives for the enterprises to collaborate with schools and universities (promote teaching relevant skills, public relations, research and development etc.).
  • One major challenge is the time requirements for co-operation, both for the often busy company representatives and the teachers. There should be a pre-planned template for the collaboration, so that it is quick and easy for the companies to evaluate the collaboration proposal and say yes or no.
  • Collaboration should include genuine interaction between the enterprises and the students and it should include regular meetings. Students and company contacts should both be included in planning of the co-operative projects.
  • As a concrete proposal: project work based on challenges presented by the companies. Student groups should be multi-disciplinary.

We hear these messages forward, and will include these challenges in the needs assessment questions. Our aim is to try to refine a functional concept for how a fruitful collaboration could best be best.

To wrap up this very positive first workshop day, we had workshop dinner, (made entirely of leftover raw materials!) at restaurant Loop in Lapinlahti.



Climate.now is an online course, or learning material, provided at the University of Helsinki MOOC platform: www.climatenow.fi (in Finnish Ilmasto.nyt, www.ilmastonyt.fi). Anyone can study the material for free any time and get a MOOC certificate from the platform. Eight universities in Finland offer courses based on the material: University of Helsinki – also via open university, LUT University, Aalto University, Metropolia University of Applied Sciences, University of Jyväskylä, University of Eastern Finland, University of Oulu, and University of Tampere. In the Climate.now workshop we heard experiences from these courses. We also heard that the material has been used by other organizations, like Protect our winters and Mothers in business. We discussed the opportunity to make Climate.now more international, and the opportunity to make a shorter easily accessible version to attract more laymen.


Climate University Goes to Schools

As a parallel workshop session, we had an event where we discussed potential for co-operation between different levels of education in Finland, with representatives from basic to university education. We had short presentations on past and existing successful activities in schools, related to climate and sustainability, and got a wide range of positive examples of such education inspiringly arranged!

In the main discussions of the school workshop, the following conclusions were reached:

  • The Climate University community should influence the planning of the upcoming, new national curricula for the Finnish schools. We should promote including climate and sustainability topics in the school curricula. We should prepare a petition on this for the government officials in charge of the preparation work (by February 2019). Such a petition should be signed by the university representatives, but also widely by companies and NGO’s.

  • In was noted most teachers use existing course books, and may be hesitant to use online material. It was proposed the Climate University community could endorse school textbooks that cover the environment / sustainability topics, with some sort of a “seal of approval”. Same is applicable for online material, and coordination / collection / pre-selection of online material would be beneficial.

  • Themed periods of “phenomenon learning” could be based on climate and sustainability topics. These should cover a wide range of subjects (both natural and human sciences topics).

  • Climate / sustainability university level courses should be tailored to the needs of schools (lyceum) education. The three components that should be considered are: 1) students should get course credits at their schools (lyceum), or a diploma 2) the students should get university level study credits 3) completing a number of these studies should form a flexible pathway to university studies.

Again, these topics will be included and furthered, and we selected the main ones to be further examined for our needs assessment survey. The group concurred that we should start a working group to promote inclusion of climate and sustainability topics to the school curriculums in 2019 and that a permanent network or a forum of some sort would be needed to effectively communicate.

In these constructive and optimistic spirits, we were happy to conclude the opening workshop of our Climate university project! We would like to once more wholeheartedly thank all the participants who helped us make this event the positive experience it definitely was! We are looking forward to the next workshop, held in Jyväskylä, with more information in the next blog post!


  Mikko and Laura


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.