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.


After completing the course, students

  • Understand the systemic principles of sustainability including ecological and social systems.
  • Are able to define and discuss the key concepts related to systems thinking in the context of design.
  • Understand basic principles of regenerative design and to be able to use them to approach design activities.

Credits: 5

Schedule: 27.10.2020 - 03.12.2020

Teacher in charge (valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022): Katri Pulkkinen

Teacher in charge (applies in this implementation): Kata Fodor, Mikko Jalas

Contact information for the course (valid 12.10.2020-21.12.2112):

Mikko Jalas,

Kata Fodor,

For SPT students

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 course addresses socio-ecological systems and changes in system over time. It introduces theoretical foundations of the large scale systemic principles and multi-dimensional interdependencies of sustainability. Key notions are derived from complex adaptive systems and transition theories. These concepts and systems thinking are used to analyse design approaches towards circular economy and sustainable living environments and to learn to anticipate unintended consequences of sustainability solutions.

    Lectures including shared lectures with the the programme Spatial Planning and Transportation (SPT) at Aalto ENG.

    Peer-to-peer teaching

    Readings: Readings are used throughout the course to support classroom activities, course essay and exercises. Student write summaries on selected readings and expand on their significance for design activities. Readings include a pre-reading.

Assessment Methods and Criteria
  • Valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022:

    Course essay, active presence in class and in online platforms, peer-to-peer teaching and other group exercises.

  • Valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022:

    5 ECTS = 135 hour

    - Lectures 36 h

    - Essay 25 h

    - Teamwork 34 h

    - Literature, individual work 30h

    - Personal reflection 10h


Study Material
  • Valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022:

    To be announced in the course syllabus.

Substitutes for Courses
  • Valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022:

    This course will replace SPT-E1050 Systems thinking for sustainable living environments.

  • Valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022:

    WAT-E3020 State of the world or similar knowledge

SDG: Sustainable Development Goals

    4 Quality Education

    6 Clean Water and Sanitation

    9 Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

    11 Sustainable Cities and Communities

    12 Responsible Production and Consumption

    13 Climate Action

    15 Life on Land

    17 Partnerships for the Goals