Archive for the ‘Education’ Category


Here is the dilemma – I have a total of 120 ECTS (credits) for my degree. Leaving aside the core IDBM courses and another 30 ECTS for the Master’s thesis, I am left with around 40 ECTS that I can spend more or less freely on the courses that I like. And I like too many of them 😛 But how could you not? A taste of things on offer:

The Stanford ME310 design innovation course is making a come back at Aalto next fall (after a successful Save ME310 campaign)! So with a lucrative prospect of traveling to and spending a couple of weeks at Stanford and the rest of the year working in a diverse global team on an industry sponsored design innovation challenge, its at the top of my list.

Then there is the Creative Sustainability minor with an interesting palette of courses on offer including the “City in Transition” series dealing with the issues of sustainable urban development, including a 2-week field trip to a city in a developing country undergoing rapid socio-economic change and a stakeholder development project related to it.

The COINs (Collaborative Innovation Networks) course organized by MIT / Sloan and conducted jointly at MIT, Aalto, SCAD and Cologne, focusing on understanding, analyzing and harvesting social networks, crowd-farming, swarm creativity etc. can’t be missed either, of course 🙂

The City Sets course, part of the City Sets project, is about discovering and interpreting the design and culture embedded in the urban landscape and environment of Helsinki through a variety of visual ethnographic methods including videos, pictures etc. The outcomes will be displayed at a pavilion during the World Design Capital’ 2012 events in Helsinki.

The philosophically oriented “Key thinkers at the intersections of Art, Science, Culture and Technology” aims at studying and examining the body of thought and work of such thinkers as Amartya Sen, Semir Zeki, Olafur Eliasson and others. Delicious! Then there is a course titled “License to act differently” with a ‘Failure Resume’ that the participants build during the course as its main assessment method! Sounds worth exploring, doesn’t it ;)?

These are just a few examples and they are already worth over 65 ECTS. And even though I can technically take some extra credits, at times these have conflicting schedules 😦 So I’ll have to let go of some of these courses and I can’t decide which ones to pass! This is going to be quite a task, I sense 😀

On a side note, I really love the culture and philosophy of “writing your own study plan”, the flexibility of picking the courses that one likes and, of course, the assortment of some wonderful courses on offer. What’s more? Here at Aalto (and I guess in most other Finnish universities) you can register for a course, see if you like it and choose to drop it midway if you don’t with no repercussions whatsoever (except the core courses, which you need to complete, of course). Further, a lot of courses don’t have a formal exam and in those that do, you can decide when you want to appear for the exam within a year, sometimes more, of taking the course. Also, you can sit for the exam as many times as you like (up to a certain number) and only the best grades show up on the transcript with no mention of the number of ‘attempts’. (Unlike back home where you are forever stamped as having ‘FAILED’ the exam or having passed it on a ‘supplementary attempt’)

There are so many things that are refreshingly different about the education here but I guess those deserve a couple of dedicated posts 😀

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