Mul­tidiscip­lin­ary sustainability course for all stu­dents at the University of Helsinki – What’s go­ing on?

Last fall the HELSUS trainee William Smolander wrote a comprehensive report on sustainability-related courses organized globally. After that a lot has happened and the development work for Helsinki Uni’s own sustainability course for all students continues at full speed. If you feel like you have missed something here and you have more questions than answers regarding this sustainability course, this is the piece of news you should read!

In the strategic plan of the University of Helsinki 2021-2030 one of the four main strategic choices is “our University is a leader in responsibility and sustainability”. The idea for the sustainability course is a natural continuation for the strategy and the thought that all future university graduates should have sustainability expertise. The idea of a sustainability course matured gradually and included ideas and discussions from many parts and persons. Also our Rector Jari Niemelä, University Lecturer Hannele Cantell and the Vice-Rectors Sari Lindblom and Tom Böhling have participated in the discussion. The Centre for University Teaching and Learning (HYPE) and Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science (HELSUS) have also been involved.

The vision is that the sustainability course could eventually be compulsory for all students of all faculties. There is no such decision though and the faculties have still time to have their influence in the presumable decision sometime in the future. The development project is led by a steering group formed by Vice Rector Sari Lindblom and the idea is that the course could be included in the next curricula 2023-2026. The goal is that the course will consist of a three credits common course for students of all faculties which will be carried out as a MOOC online course and a two credits programme or faculty specific course. Altogether it will form a five credits course in the degree.

The course development is carried out by HYPE and HELSUS. In March 2020 these units employed a university teacher to lead the development process. The teacher is Rami Ratvio who has worked before as a university lecturer, project researcher, in geography division of the matriculation exam board and as a geography teacher.  Rami has a Ph.D. in Urban Geography and has a subject teacher’s qualification in geography and biology. Ratvio has organized online workshops for university staff and put together a student’ survey with the help of the HELSUS trainees Lotta Ruippo and Arttu Jokinen. There were almost 70 participants in the workshops and the survey gathered approximately 800 answers from the students. The course development can be followed in this sustainability course blog.

Next step in the course development is going through the results from the workshops and the student survey. In the spring semester 2021 the sustainability course will come out as an optional three credit online course for all students. The course will first be tested in this format before it will be expanded with another two credits. However, the work for doing the new curricula starts at earliest next year and all the faculties can have their say about the new sustainability course.

Everyone is welcome to participate in the course design process. If you have questions how to participate or something else on your mind concerning the course please contact University Instructor Rami Ratvio (

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *