Please note! Course description is confirmed for two academic years, which means that in general, e.g. Learning outcomes, assessment methods and key content stays unchanged. However, via course syllabus, it is possible to specify or change the course execution in each realization of the course, such as how the contact sessions are organized, assessment methods weighted or materials used.


Students of various disciplines are expected to attain a more informed understanding of central notions and questions related to design and to culture. Multi-cultural, trans-disciplinary approaches are considered relevant in the learning processes. Learning objectives include:
- increased awareness of and insight into the own agency as cultural actor;
- increased understanding for situating design in the larger political, social and cultural structures and discourses;
- increased familiarity with Finnish design and the international design scene.
Conceptual objectives are thus associated with an understanding of notions and principles; attitude objectives are associated with fostering a socially and culturally-aware mindset more adequate for reflecting critically about the design field and its role in society; and objectives related to skills are associated with expanding the toolset required for being able to take informed stands toward design(s), design disciplines and the design professions.

Credits: 5

Schedule: 04.03.2019 - 17.05.2019

Teacher in charge (valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022): Paola Cabrera Viancha, Tim Smith

Teacher in charge (applies in this implementation): Paola Cabrera Viancha, Juuso Tervo

Contact information for the course (valid 07.01.2019-21.12.2112):

Don't hesitate to e-mail your enquiries:

Paola Cabrera

CEFR level (applies in this implementation):

Language of instruction and studies (valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022):

Teaching language: English

Languages of study attainment: English


  • Valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022:

    UWAS Design & Culture offers students diverse insights into the interrelationships, and the tensions, between design practices, design artifacts, design policies, sustainability, consumption, culture and cultural action. Students are encouraged to critically assess design work as part of wider cultural, social and political entities, reflect on their own (potential) roles and agency as cultural actors, and recognize options for designerly undertakings. The learning objectives of the course are supported among others by means of discussion of real life cases; the course includes in-house and guest lectures by professional practitioners, local outings, and literature reviews and writing and active discussion.

Assessment Methods and Criteria
  • Valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022:

    Students are expected to be critical, to contest or re-characterize any given or mainstream notions. The assessments reflect both the quality of the contributions and work as well as the commitment to the components and dynamics of the Course. Students must attend minimum 80% of the contact sessions i.e. lectures, excursions, discussions etc. Completion of all assignments and deliverables is required, as are active participation in all the components of the Course:

    Lectures and excursions, workshops, discussion
    Collaborative work online, reporting
    Learning diary, also online
    Reporting, evaluation, feedback, also online

  • Valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022:

    Contact sessions: Lectures and workshops, outings, guided discussion, 36 hours

    Independent work, reflection, 70 hours, including these learning activities:

    Research: observation, documentation, 6 hours

    Literature reading, 38 hours

    Learning diary, also online, 14 hours

    Collaborative work, also online, reporting, 10 hours

    Reporting, evaluation, feedback, also online, 2 hours

    Attendance required 80%

    (Workload changed by decision of Rasmus Vuori 11.3.2021)

  • Applies in this implementation:

     While the different learning activities are intertwined in practice, the particular workload can be estimated as follows:

    • Contact sessions: Lectures and excursions, workshops, guided discussion, 60 hours
    • Independent work, reflection, 75 hours including these learning activities:

    – Research, 8 hours
    – Literature reading, 34 hours
    – Collaborative work online, reporting, 6 hours
    – Learning diary, also online, 24 hours
    – Reporting, evaluation, feedback, also online, 3 hours


Study Material
  • Valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022:

    Supplementary bibliography and sources will be published in MyCourses; there will be also material suggested in each particular session and also by the confirmed guest speakers. The main works to guide in the discussions are:

    Julier, Guy. 2014. The Culture of Design. Sage. (In Aalto Finna.)

    Julier, Guy. 2017. Economies of design. Sage. (In Aalto Finna.) (Book review by Carol Meachem.)

    Korvenmaa, Pekka. 2014. Finnish design: a concise history. Aalto ARTS Books, Aalto University, in association with V&A Publishing, London. (In Aalto Finna.) Finnish version of the same book: Taide & Teollisuus: Johdatus suomalaisen muotoilun historian.

  • Valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022: