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    Welcome to SGT online lecture series of State of the World and Development 2021!

    Note that course is online. Lectures include discussion and dialogue

    This lecture series gives an introduction to the state of the world and development. It highlights the environmental, social and economic aspects of sustainable development and explores the dilemma of development from different perspectives. Lecture series is open for all. For those aiming to gain 2 credits; register in Sisu (sisu.aalto.fi). 80% attendance & assignment completion required to pass the course. See course syllabus for further information. 

    • First lecture on Monday 20 September 2021 at 10:00

    • Mondays & Wednesdays 10:00 – 12:00 (5 weeks)   - please note that lecture 8 (13.10) will exceptionally start at 14:00!

    • 2 ECTS (pass/fail) 

    • 10 guest lectures & 5 reflection assignments 

    • Course coordinator: Julia Renko (julia.renko@aalto.fi) 


    LECTURES 2021

    (Note students: the Zoom link to all lectures will be published under the schedule below)

    WEEK 1

    Monday 20 Sep | 10-12

    Lecture 1 - "Dilemma of Development" 
    Distinguished Prof. Olli Varis, Aalto ENG

    Olli Varis is professor of Water Resources Management with a focus on water, environment and development research and consultation. His research concentrates on sustainable development and water resources management in developing and emerging economies, particularly in Asia. His interests are global water resources and their interrelations to sectors such as agriculture and energy, and in relation to drivers such as climate change, urbanization, poverty, environment and economic development. Prof. Varis has been active in several international organizations including UNESCO, WMO, IWRA (Vice President 2007-2009), IWA, IIASA and UNU/WIDER. He was the Vice Dean of Research and Innovation of Aalto School of Engineering in 2013-2018, Counsellor at the Supreme Administrational Court of Finland in 2006-2015, and he is Distinguished Adjunct Professor at Asian Institute of Technology, Thailand.   

    Wednesday 22 Sep | 10-12  

    Lecture 2 - "Development Policy and Global Goals" 

    Suvi Virkkunen, Senior Advisor, Ministry of Foreign Affairs

    Suvi Virkkunen works as team leader for Quality and Results at the Department for Development Policy at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland. She has more than 20 years work experience in development policy and cooperation both with civil society organisations at national, EU and global level as well as with the EU and the Government of Finland. Within the MFA she has been the penholder in the preparations of all key policy documents for Finland’s development policy during the last 7 years. She has been involved with the negotiations of the Agenda 2030 in the UN as well as the national policy guiding and national methodology monitoring Finland’s implementation. Ms. Virkkunen holds a Master's degree from the University of Tampere, majoring in international politics. Her thesis studied how poverty eradication steered the development policy of the European Union.  

    Recommended pre-materials: 


    WEEK 2


    Monday 27 Sep | 10-12  

    Lecture 3 - "Climate Change & Adaptation" 

    Dr. Philipp Schmidt-Thomé, GTK 

    Dr. Schmidt-Thomé is a researcher and ‎International Operations Director at the Geological Survey of Finland (GTK). Schmidt-Thomé is a geographer (MSc. with minor subjects in geology and soil science) with a dual German-Finnish citizenship and a postgraduate in hydrogeology and engineering geology. He came to the Geological Survey of Finland in 1998. He was born in El Salvador, raised in Germany, Sudan and Colombia and completed parts of his studies in Chile and Thailand. Additionally to GTK, Schmidt-Thomé  has worked as a scientist and project manager in several EU projects in South America and South East Asia. Apart from Aalto University he actively lectures for instance in the University of Alicante in Spain. 

    Recommended pre-materials:  


    Wednesday 29 Sep | 10-12 

    Lecture 4 - "Water we eat!" 

    Dr. Elina Lehikoinen, Biocode Oy

    Dr. Elina Lehikoinen works in the team of Biocode as a Manager of Impact Assessment. Elina is a Doctor of Science (Tech.) from the field of water and environmental engineering. Her dissertation “Building a more resilient Finnish food system – from import dependence towards domestic natural resource use” studied the international flows of natural resources linked to food production and addressed the positive potential that Finland could have locally and globally. Her research was conducted at Aalto University’s Water and Development Research Group and she was also part of the SGT team for many years.

    WEEK 3


    Monday 4 Oct | 10-12  

    Lecture 5 - "The EU can act on issues beyond the capacity of nation states" 

    Satu Hassi, Member of Parliament, Chairperson of the Grand Committee

    Ms. Hassi has served as Member of Parliament of Finland for 19 years, as a Member of European Parliament for 10 years and as a Minister for Environment for three years. Her academic background is in electrical power engineering. Her key topics are climate and energy, Europe and equal rights.

    Wednesday 6 Oct | 10-12  

    Lecture 6 - “Climate change, geopolitics and global security”  

    Dr. Emma Hakala, Senior Research Fellow, Finnish Institute of International Affairs

    Dr. Hakala works as Senior Research Fellow at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs and as postdoctoral scholar at the University of Helsinki. She is also a member of the BIOS Research Unit. Hakala’s research focuses on environmental security and the geopolitics of climate change. Among other things, she has examined environmental cooperation in the Western Balkans, water sustainability in Nepal and climate change as an issue of foreign and security policy for Finland. Previously, Hakala has also worked on environmental issues at the UNDP and HELCOM, and more recently has participated for example in a water diplomacy project led by the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs.


    WEEK 4 

    Monday 11 Oct | 10-12  

    Lecture 7 - "Climate migration in Latin America" 

    Dr. Florencia Quesada, Adjuct Professor & University Lecturer, Helsinki University

    Dr. Quesada is a university lecturer and adjunct professor in Latin American Studies at the University of Helsinki. She is also affiliated at the Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science (HELSUS) and the Helsinki Institute of Urban and Regional Studies (Urbaria), UH. Her research interests include urban cultural history, sustainable tourism, urban planning and social segregation.



    Wednesday 13 Oct | 14-16 (note the starting time!)

    Lecture 8 - "Action Lab Mexico - A Longitudinal Collaboration Process " 

    Dr. Claudia Garduño Garcia, Associate Professor, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

    Dr. Garduño is the research director of the Mexican NGO DYA Design Your Action, and an associate professor at the Master's Programme in Industrial Design at UNAM.  During her MA studies in Aalto University, she participated in Aalto LAB Shanghai, belonging to the very first team of LABBERS. She saw so much potential in it that got the idea of taking Aalto LAB to Mexico, and making it the case study of her doctoral work "Design as Freedom”. The dissertation explores freedom as an alternative driving principle for design and develops a co-design process that aims for the mutual empowerment of participant end-users and designers. Action LAB Mexico is an ongoing project and has been part of SGT since 2015.  


    WEEK 5

    Monday 18 Oct | 10-12  

    Lecture 9 - “Urban Development Planning – a UN Habitat Perspective 

    Jonathan Weaver, Urban Planning & Design Specialist, UN-Habitat

    Jonathan Weaver is a Senior Urban Planner with the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat). He has been responsible for managing a portfolio of projects across Asia, the Middle East and Africa. His focus has been on working with cities and municipalities to identify opportunities to better integrate displaced populations and climate resilient solutions within their urban plans and policies through data-driven spatial analysis and participatory planning. This includes developing sustainable development strategies for protracted refugee settlements in Kenya, and a secondment to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to work with field teams in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, to coordinate robust infrastructure interventions across the Rohingya Camps.

    Recommended pre-materials:


    Wednesday 20 Oct | 10-12  

    Lecture 10 - "The lovely people in the rich country of DR Congo – Dilemmas of Media Narratives" 

    Sami Sillanpää, Foreign Correspondent, Helsingin Sanomat

    Sami Sillanpää works as journalist at the Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat. He has more than 20 years of experience in reporting about conflicts, development and global politics. His reporting has covered a variety of issues such as dissidents in China, wars in Syria and Iraq and survival in Somalia and Afghanistan.  His latest non-fiction book “Keskellä virtaa Kongo” describes the lives of people living along the mighty Congo river in the heart of Africa. The book is based on his 2000 kilometer journey along the river. He is an active speaker in public events, often discussing the role of media in shaping our understanding of the world. 

    • Saatavilla vasta, kun: You are a(n) Opiskelija
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      Course Zoom Verkko-osoite

      Please note that
      • the same link will be used for all lectures.
      • the host will admit you from the waiting room until 10:20. After that new participants are not admitted. Please note that the course has an attendance requirement.

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      Group activities will take place on this same white board.
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      General Discussion Keskustelualue

      In this Forum you can post questions, links or start discussions on topics that might be interesting for everyone participating in the course.