Last week started a set of four parallel workshops. The workshops were open to all staff members. The aim was to explore the university community’s perceptions of what kind of knowledge or skills a student graduating from the University of Helsinki should have about sustainability. The first two workshops were organized last Monday and Tuesday via Zoom.
Despite the exceptional times and the fact that every event – also the workshops – have been moved online, the developing of the sustainability course has not stopped or been delayed. The course developer Rami Ratvio has with the help of the HELSUS trainees Lotta Ruippo and Arttu Jokinen continued the development work even if meeting people in person is not a possibility for the moment.
The first two workshops have now been organized and the next two will be organized on Wednesday 6th and Tuesday 12th of May. In total, there are 62 people registered for all the workshops. The first workshops highlighted students ability to deal with multidimensional environmental problems which requires multidisciplinary thinking and the understanding that there might be several ways to approach and solve an environmental problem. There were also discussions about the ways to teach students these abilities in just one course since the course aims were put quite high.
The workshop participant raised several aspects which should be fulfilled during the course. Not only should it offer facts about environmental problems but also the ability for the students to see their expertise in relation to others expertise. The workshop participants thought that understanding others way of thinking is at least as important as the environmental facts itself.
The participants were also asked how the course should end and how the knowledge and skills of the course should be summarized. Most of the participants thought that a group project could be a way to do it. There were thoughts that a group project that is shareable online could be a functional solution. Also here the multidisciplinary approach were present. The workshop attendees thought that the group work should be done in groups with students from several degree programmes, not only with students from their own programme.
Altogether it has been great to notice that university staff members with all kind of backgrounds are interested in participating in the course development. The knowledge they offer is priceless information for the course development and will bring us one step nearer to carry out the sustainability course for all students!