The new program, titled Managing Sustainability and Systems Change, connects professionals from various fields around the themes of sustainability and transformation.
Lapland University of Applied Sciences is launching a unique master’s program for experts in sustainability and transformation.
“The program answers to the growing need of professionals who have not only substantial skills in sustainability, green transition and circular economy, but also the drive and skills to act as changemakers in their professional communities”, says principal lecturer Sanna Tyni from Lapland UAS. “This is a new pedagogical perspective for us, and we use transformative learning to provide our students with new tools to approach these challenging themes.”
The program is centered around development skills and transformative learning, a process of learning that aims for substantial change in human perceptions, thinking, emotions and actions.
“The themes of transformative learning and circular economy complement each other well, as regarding both, the world is in a similar situation: we recognize the need for change and development in our ways of operating, but we need new approaches in order to leverage the opportunities and shift our focus”, Tyni says.
Broadening perspectives with an international and multidisciplinary group
The program has sparked plenty of interest both in Finland and abroad. The program received over 100 applications, and a group of around twenty future change professionals will begin their studies in September. The students represent diverse professional backgrounds and nationalities.
“It is great to have an international group on board. Sustainability and climate challenges or circular economy are not regional issues, and today’s professionals must have an understanding of the global playing field”, Tyni says. “An international group also allows our students to expand and diversify their professional network.”
Traditional lectures will not be found in the program’s agenda.
“We’ll focus on mutual knowledge sharing. Our master’s students are highly experienced experts, and we ‘teachers’ function more as mentors or tutors. Our job is to provide new questions and topics for the group to work on”, says Tyni.
The program is mostly online-based. However, the kickoff meeting at the beginning of September brings students and staff together face-to-face in Rovaniemi.
In the final weeks before the kickoff, the staff are busy going through plans and finalizing details.
“We are all excited to get started”, Tyni says. “This type of a program is unique at least in the Finnish educational field, so we are looking at something new here. We are interested to see how this approach works. As collaboration plays a major role in the program, group dynamics will be an important element for us.”
Network collaborations offer extensive opportunities for students
In addition to the themes of transformative learning and sustainability, the program offers the students the opportunity to tailor their degree with elective profiling studies. One of the offered courses is Solutions.now, a collaborative effort between four Finnish universities organized via the Climate University network. Climate University is a network of several Finnish universities that offers courses around various climate and sustainability topics.
“We hope that many of our students pick this course, as it offers another great way to build their professional network”, Tyni says. “Overall, our Climate University collaboration brings our students excellent opportunities to expand their skills. Our membership enables us to offer our students all the courses provided within the network. This is a wonderful example of the opportunities that collaboration brings to today’s educational field.”