Humanities and Social Sciences – Suitable for Business?

One of the most intriguing visits for me during the trip was with Suitable for Business. A Copenhagen based collective of students or a movement as they like to call themselves, Suitable for Business searches for novel ways to bring business and humanities together. Started in 2011 by philosophy students, SfB found home at the Copenhagen Business School.

Founding member and chairman of SfB, an enthusiastic yet calm and collected Matias Sondergaard took us through the basic premises of the movement. “We want to find ways to use our humanistic view of the world to benefit businesses. Academic skills from outside the economics can and should be used in improving the world of business.”

According to the SfB Manifesto or the ten commandments of the movement, humanistic businesses are ones that “are built upon morality, empathy and a link to culture. Moreover they aspire for creative solutions”. The more we chatted, the more I realized Torstai and SfB have in common. I for one definitely subscribe to Matias’s view, that society at large can only benefit from those shared values created through humanities and social sciences entering the world of business. Instead of battling business, as has traditionally been the case for students from the aforementioned disciplines, why not find ways to incorporate  values and ideas created through them into business life and change it for the better?

What SfB does in practice is organize an annual conference and case competition. At the conference lectures and speeches are given by representatives from both businesses and the academia. The case competition brings together multidisciplinary teams of students to work on a specific case in which their individual skills and knowledge can be combined in a group effort. The first case competition in 2011 was organized in collaboration with the Danish Red Cross. You can learn more about the competition and the way SfB works at www.suitableforbusiness.dk/#Home

Walking away from the meeting I was left with a strengthened feeling that what I’m doing with Torstai can find resonance and sympathies among a wider audience of students that I had ever imagined. I was also super inspired to develop the way we work and start to think about the open road of possibilities ahead for our co-operative.

Mika Hyötyläinen, Torstai Helsinki

 

Torstai Helsinki: The First International Expedition

So we shall let the reader answer this question for himself: Who is the happier man, he who has braved the storm of life and lived, or he who has stayed securely on shore and merely existed? -Hunter S. Thompson

Olen jo pitkään tiennyt oman vastaukseni lempikirjailijani nuorella iällä esittämään kysymykseen. Olen yksi niistä ihmiskunnan edustajista, joita on aina riivannut tarve hypätä tuntemattomaan, pakata laukut ja lähteä. Tällä hetkellä tungen sekalaista kauluspaitakasaa isoisän vanhaan matkalaukkuun valmistautuessani viikonmittaiseen junareissuun Euroopan raiteilla.

Kesällä perustamani osuuskunta Torstai valittiin vahvalla edustajajoukolla mukaan Helsingin yliopiston opiskelijoille tarkoitetulle Tieteestä Toimintaa -matkalle. Juna vie yhteiskunnallisesta tekemisestä, omien ideoiden kehittämisestä ja ihan vaan yliopisto-opiskelijoille ja tutkijakoulutettaville harvinaisesta konkreettisesta toiminnasta kiinnostuneen ryhmän Amsterdamiin ja Kööpenhaminaan.

Sen lisäksi, että lähden tutustumaan itselleni täysin uuteen skeneen ja tapaamaan hyperaktiivisia eurooppalaisia tositekijöitä yhteiskunnallisen yrittäjyyden kentällä, saan myöskin viettää viikon sopivan sekalaisen ja huippumotivoituneen opiskelijaporukan kanssa. Kaikki junailijat ovat mukana joko oman freesin idean tai jo käyntiinpolkaistun hankkeen kanssa. Toivon, että lähdemme silti kaikki reissuun tukemaan toisiamme, oppimaan yhdessä ja puskemaan projektejamme eteenpäin.

Opintojen ja duunien parissa on vierähtänyt Helsingissä jo pari vuotta putkeen ja maisemanvaihdos tekee henkilökohtaisella aivokemiatasolla todella hyvää. Odotan, että ajatukset kirkastuvat ja ideat puhkeavat kukkaan tutustuttaessa euromeininkiin. Uusi ympäristö ja mielenkiintoiset tapaamiset auttavat toivon mukaan Torstaitakin tarkentamaan päämääriään. Yhtälailla kuin puolituttujen ihmisten kanssa junanvaunuun ahtautuminen viikoksi myös osuuskuntatoiminta on minulle hyppy tuntemattomaan. A happy man braves the storm of life once again! Näinköhän purjeet kestävät?

Mika Hyötyläinen, Osuuskunta Torstai Helsinki (hyotylainen.mika@gmail.com)

 

 

Lähde matkalle Eurooppaan kehittämään akateemista yrittäjyyttä ja omaa osaamistasi! – Hop on the train to develop your skills and academic entrepreneurship!

(English version below)

Juna vie joukon Helsingin Yliopiston opiskelijoita lokakuun alussa viikoksi raiteilla Amsterdamiin ja Kööpenhaminaan. Matkalla tutustutaan Euroopan kiinnostavimpiin startup-yrityksiin, vieraillaan akateemista yrittäjyyttä kehittävissä yliopistoissa ja saadaan sparrausta omien yritysideoiden ja -taitojen kehittämiseen.

Matkalla kasvatat sekä omia ideoita, taitojasi, verkostojasi että näköalojasi. Näet, mitä Kööpenhaminassa ja Amsterdamissa tapahtuu ja samalla tutustut toisiin suomalaisiin merkityksellisestä yrittämisestä innostuneisiin opiskelijoihin. Matkan vetäjinä ovat Demos Helsingin Tuuli Kaskinen ja Outi Kuittinen, jotka ovat sparraneet monia varovaisia ideoita kunnianhimoisiksi start-upeiksi. Matka toimii vähän samaan tapaan kuin viime vuonna Demos Helsingin järjestämällä Low2No Campillä, katso video: http://low2no.fi/camp/out-came-urban-entrepreneurs/

Mukaan matkalle haetaan kertomalla, miksi tämä teema kiinnostaa juuri sinua sekä esittelemällä oma toimintaidea. Toimintaidea voi olla mikä tahansa opinnoissasi vastaan tullut asia, jossa voisi olla potentiaalia ihmisten elämän muuttamiseen tai vaikka bisneksen tekemiseen. Katso, mitä yliopistolla on viime keväänä tehty näihin teemoihin liittyen: https://blogs.helsinki.fi/toimintaa/

Viikko antaa kipinän niin vanhoille kuin uusillekin liikeideoille, emme oleta, että olisit ajatuksesi kanssa kovinkaan pitkällä!

Matkalaisista puolet on Tieteestä toimintaan -ryhmässä omia liikeideoitaan jo kehitelleitä opiskelijoita. Toinen puoli matkalaisista valitaan hakemuksensa jättäneiden joukosta. Reissua edeltää joukko workshoppeja, joiden aikana pääsee tutustumaan matkaporukkaan sekä itse vaikuttamaan viikon lukujärjestykseen ja kohteisiin.

Hae 20.9. mennessä osoitteessa http://tinyurl.com/ttmatka

Faktat matkasta:
– Lähtö 6.10. iltalaivalla Helsingistä, paluu 14.10. aamulla Helsinkiin
– Matkakohteina pääasiallisesti Amsterdam, Kööpenhamina ja niiden lähiympäristöt
– Matka tehdään junalla ja laivalla
– Demos Helsinki ja Helsingin yliopisto valitsevat yhteistyössä matkalle lähtevät Helsingin Yliopiston opiskelijat
– Helsingin yliopisto ja Uudenmaan liitto sponsoroivat suurimman osan matkan kustannuksista. Lisäksi ryhmä etsii rahoitusta muilta yhteistyökumppaneilta. Matkojen, majoituksen ja ohjelman omavastuuhinta on korkeintaan 200 € / osallistuja.

Matka ja Tieteestä toimintaa! -ryhmä ovat keskeinen porukka koko yliopiston kehittämisen ja siellä opiskelemisen kannalta. Siksi odotamme hakemuksianne ja ideoitanne innolla!

Tervetuloa mukaan!

Lisätietoja:
Tuuli Kaskinen, tuuli.kaskinen@demos.fi, puh. 050 5149752

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A bunch of students from University of Helsinki will hop on rails in October and head to Amsterdam and Copenhagen. There we will get to know the hottest start-ups in Europe, visit universities dedicated to cultivating academic entrepreneurship and get help from international business accelerators for our own business ideas.

In this trip you will see what academic entrepreneurship is in Copenhagen and Amsterdam. These learning experiences can then be put to use in Finland. The trip is similar to Low2No Camp which Demos Helsinki organized last year. See more about it at http://low2no.fi/camp/out-came-urban-entrepreneurs/

To get along to the trip we need you to tell why this theme interest you by introducing your own idea for action. This idea can be anything that has come along in your studies, that to you seems to have potential to change lives or create business. To check out what has already been going on at the university this spring, go to https://blogs.helsinki.fi/toimintaa/

The week will spark up both old and new business ideas, we by no means don’t assume that your own idea is a refined, long-thought-out plan.

Half of the participants or the trip are from Academic Action! -group and have already to some extent thought out their business ideas. Other half is chosen from those who have left their application. Before the trip the group will have multiple workshops, for getting to know your travelling partners and planning with the group the schedule and places to visit.

Apply by 20th of September at http://tinyurl.com/ttmatka

Facts about the trip:
– Departure via evening ferry on the 6th of October from Helsinki, return to Helsinki in the morning of 14th of October
– Destinations primarily Amsterdam, Copenhagen and the surrounding areas
– The trip is done via train and ferry
– Demos Helsinki and University of Helsinki together select participants for the trip from the University of Helsinki
– University of Helsinki and Uusimaa Regional Council sponsor most of the expences. In addition, the Action! -group will seek funding from other partners. The price paid by participants themselves for for travelling, accommodation and visits will be at maximum 200 € per traveller

The trip itself and the Academic Action! -group both have a big role in developing the University of Helsinki and the studies it provides. This is why we are excited to hear your applications and ideas.

Looking forward to your participation!

Additional info:

Lisätietoja:
Tuuli Kaskinen, tuuli.kaskinen@demos.fi, puh. 050 5149752

Culture eats strategy for breakfast

In search of inspiration and functioning models to learn from for our spatial and co-working needs I had a most fruitful field day visiting the Aalto Venture Garage with Luciana and Viljami. The Venture Garage, located in an old industrial warehouse in Otaniemi, Espoo is a free, multi-use open working space intended to push innovation and student start-ups towards more growth oriented trajectories. And some of us may now ask “growth, how does that concern us?” I know, I know. But read on and you might just be surprised how down-to-earth the Garage is in its operation.

Our brilliant hostess at the Garage, Natalie, began with explaining that “the first thing you need when putting together a co-working space such as this – where you want to enforce a sense of entitlement – is food and more importantly alcohol. We’re talking about Finns here, right?” We talked at length about how important it is to be able to uphold a sense of community and ownership in a group and the physical space that group comes to exist in. At the Garage students have been working on the space since day one. They have been a part of production all the way through and have gained a sense of pride in having accomplished it themselves. We all know that fixing up a space and putting our own sweat into it makes the space all the more important to us.

The people at the Garage also work hard in maintaining a sense of community. BBQ parties and the famous “Divine Breakfasts” bring together people from the workplace in more informal settings. And as Natalie put it “we’ve found out that you need good amounts of “lubrication” to get people properly socializing”. I say we keep this in mind and all promote a sense of belonging and community in our group!

As a space the Garage is all about openness. During business hours anyone is free to walk in, take a seat and get down to work. A “Hello Policy” ensures that newbies walking in are greeted by staff or other workers, before they begin to wonder where they are or what they’re supposed to do. Experiences – both successes and failures – are also openly talked about and learned from. Yet another policy at the Garage is “Strut your stuff”, meaning that people exhibit their products and achievements openly in the space for all (including possible investors) to see.

Despite fostering an uncommonly open atmosphere, some common guidelines are always needed. This is basically to ensure that everyone feels comfortable and equal in taking care of everyday chores. There is a tendency in us humans that the more of us there are, the less responsibility we take. Hence common guidelines that gear people towards responsible behavior are most valuable.

However, as Natalie put it “culture eats strategy for breakfast”. Workplace rules and strategies, if too strict, will inevitably fail. But a functioning, free, inclusive and open work culture will prosper and make us all happier. And this truly enforces our views on how to organize the social realities of the Action Group – by letting them organize themselves.

Below are Natalie’s golden tips for the Action Group:
1. Set the culture together
2. Set clear goals
3. Trial and Error
4. Keep it fun and open

Action! 101

The Helsinki University Action! -group kicked off with a semi-official meeting at Pub Kaisla. An eclectic mix of people from a multitude of backgrounds and with a plethora of interests gathered to rub shoulders, raise pints and most importantly to voice their ideas. We shared views and ideas on where we are now, what we would like to see happen tomorrow and how to get from here to there. Below is an all too brief account of some of the topics and themes discussed in the group.

Going around the table, we had lively discussions on a number of ideas for new entrepreneurship and what the Action! –group could possibly achieve. We heard from people who are interested in opening up urban public-spaces for common activities and actions. Could this group be a platform for socially meaningful entrepreneurship within the open spaces of this city we call home? There are a number of initiatives based on entrepreneurial action already going on, which take city space into their own hands and make use of it in ways that promote social inclusion and a sense of ownership to public space (case in point, the Restaurant Day). Yet a lot of work needs to be done to reach the truly open agora of the 21st Century.

We heard from an anthropologist who having spent a length of time in a developing country had witnessed at first hand, how data produced through his work was not being used for the greater good, but stayed in the hands of and hence only benefited a minority. The same can surely be said of lot of the data produced at our university. Each and every student writes one essay after another to be graded – and then what? What happens to all that information and hours and days of work spent to generate new ideas? Could we utilize the work we do at university at the time of production to achieve something more concrete than a number on paper? In addition to being the greatest learning experience ever, couldn’t uni-work also aim at some tangible real-life change or improvement?

In similar vein a city activist and block-party organizer talked of how unused resources exist in surprising places and if you just know what to look for, big things can be achieved with meager beginnings. His example came from Los Angeles, where unemployed actors, writers and movie industry workers have made use of idle filming equipment and started making films with very little funding to start off with. By pooling common resources and the plethora of skills we have at hand, this group could be off to a great start – whatever we choose to work towards!

We also talked on many a turn about how the very notion of work is changing. Many of us feel that career oriented work-lives are turning into ones of trial and error and experimentation in many fields. No longer trapped in offices, alienated from what we do and just waiting for the next paycheck or possible future promotion, we feel that the skills and knowledge we gain at university must have more than a simple utilitarian value to get us that “dream job”. We wish to gain a more profound understanding of what we can do right now. Work can be something that we make for ourselves.

Many things discussed are left uncovered here. Our work has only just begun and it is yet unclear where we are headed. But let us not view the unknown as a hindrance, but an opportunity. We came to the realization that an open and functioning working space should be the next course of action in order to seize this opportunity. A common space will make the work more hands on and real. A common space will be the first physical expression of our work. A common space will tie together our many needs and aspirations and imaginations. By moving from the notion of place to one of space, we can also move from the notion of time to one of instance and from ideas and concepts to concrete manifestations – indeed, to Action!