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: 02.11.2021 - 10.12.2021

Teacher in charge (valid for whole curriculum period):

Teacher in charge (applies in this implementation): Mikko Jalas, Naoko Nakagawa

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

CEFR level (valid for whole curriculum period):

Language of instruction and studies (applies in this implementation):

Teaching language: English. Languages of study attainment: English


  • valid for whole curriculum period:

    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 for whole curriculum period:

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

  • valid for whole curriculum period:

    5 ECTS = 135 hour

    - Lectures 36 h

    - Essay 25 h

    - Teamwork 34 h

    - Literature, individual work 30h

    - Personal reflection 10h


Study Material
  • valid for whole curriculum period:

    To be announced in the course syllabus.

Substitutes for Courses
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


Further Information
  • valid for whole curriculum period:

    Teaching Period:

    2020-2021 Autumn II

    2021-2022 Autumn II

    Course Homepage:

    Registration for Courses: Sisu replaces Oodi on 9 August, 2021. Priority order to courses is according to the order of priority decided by the Academic committee for School of Arts, Design and Architecture:

    Maximum amount of students 65.

    Order of selection:

    1. Creative sustainability master's program

    2. Creative sustainability minor

    3. Other master's programs at Department of Design