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.


The point of departure of How to change the world: Innovating toward sustainability course is the observation that the current financial system and business models are predominantly incompatible with the environmental carrying capacity and unable to enhance socio-economically just futures. In the course we work with global environmental and social sustainability problems and their potential solutions. Wicked global sustainability challenges such as climate change, depletion of natural resources and poverty are treated as starting points for innovation of new forms of economic activity, business models, and organizational forms. Through lectures, exercises, team project and practitioner talks the students gain understanding of wicked societal problems related to sustainability: what they are, how they can be approached, and why it is important to tackle them. More importantly, the course aims at exploring alternative paths for creative and innovative responses to sustainability challenges. The emphasis will be on entrepreneurial solutions within the business sector, but we put emphasis on collaboration with other actors such as non-governmental organizations and the public in the pursuit of systemic solutions. The students learn and explore how to approach these vast challenges with realistic and plausible strategies and actions on a grass-root level. The course addresses sustainability innovation from following main perspectives: sustainable business models, inclusive business for poverty alleviation and various forms of entrepreneurship for sustainability ventures. We employ a variety of interactive working methods, which encourage the students to explore and reflect upon their own thinking patterns through happiness and sustainability diaries and develop new ideas in a collaborative manner.

Credits: 6

Schedule: 09.01.2020 - 13.02.2020

Teacher in charge (valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022): Minna Halme

Teacher in charge (applies in this implementation): Minna Halme, Marleen Wierenga

Contact information for the course (applies in this implementation):

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:

    The concept of wicked problems & knowledge about attainable approaches for addressing wicked sustainability problems - Concept of planetary boundaries and implications of planetary boundaries to human society and economy - Business model concept and literature on business models for sustainability ventures - Inclusive business (in the context of low-income emerging markets) and its opportunities and limits for poverty alleviation - Eco-innovation - Frugal innovation as a form of innovating in resource-scarce environments - The concept and practice of sustainability entrepreneurship - The concept of intrapreneurship - Intrapreneurial tactics for sustainability work in the context of large organizations

Assessment Methods and Criteria
  • Valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022:

    35% Active participation during contact teaching sessions
    65% assignments

  • Valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022:

    Contact teaching 28 h
    Team work 80 h
    Independent work 52 h


Study Material
  • Valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022:

    Elkington, Pamela Hartigan (2008) Power of unreasonable people: how social entrepreneurs create markets that change the world / ISBN 9781422104064;

    Weimann, J.; Knabe, A.; Schöb, R. (2015) Measuring Happiness the economics of well-being. The MIT Press, Cambridge. ISBN 978-3-7910-31941.

    Wilkinson, R. Pickett, K. (2009) The spirit level: Why equality if better for everyone. ISBN: 978-0-141-03236-8.;

    Jackson, T. (2009) Prosperity without growth: Economics for a finite planet. ISBN: 978-1-84407-894-3

    Grant, A. (2016) Originals: How non-conformists move the world. NY: Penguin Books. ISBN 987-0-525 42956-2

    Articles designated in the syllabus


  • Valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022:

    State of the World and Development course (Yhd.-12.3082) or equivalent. Yhd.-12.3082 is offered by Aalto School of Engineering by Environmental Technology Dept.

SDG: Sustainable Development Goals

    1 No Poverty

    6 Clean Water and Sanitation

    9 Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

    10 Reduced Inequality

    12 Responsible Production and Consumption

    13 Climate Action