Topic outline

  • Welcome to join 10 high-level sessions on State of the World and Development!

    This lecture series  highlights the environmental, social and economic aspects of sustainable development and explores the dilemma of development from various stakeholder perspectives.  Lectures are open for all in Aalto! To gain the study credits, please register through SISU ( Lectures will not be recorded or streamed.

    • Lectures from 11 September to 11 October 2023

    • Mondays in A1-A123 & Wednesdays in A2-A215 in Otakaari 1, at 10-12.  See Course Programme for exceptions on 11.9 and 20.9!

    • 2 ECTS (pass/fail) 
    • 10 guest lectures and 5 reflection assignments: 80% attendance and assignment completion required to pass the course

    • Course coordinator: Julia Sundman ( 

        Course assistant: Bhattarabhop "Best" Viriyaroj (

  • Monday 11 Sep | Otakaari 1, A1 | 10-12
    LECTURE 1 "Opportunities towards sustainable food future"
    Professor Matti Kummu, Aalto Water & Development Research Group

    The main focus of Prof. Kummu's research is the interaction between human population and water resources. He has been working extensively on assessing the global water scarcity and how it has impacted on food production and availability. To ease the ever-growing pressure on water and land resources, his Water & Development Research Group has working actively in quantifying the potential of different measures, such as diet change, food loss reduction, emerging non-meat protein sources, and yield gap closure, to sustainably increase the food availability globally. Moreover, his research group works also on a more local scale challenges and opportunities on water-energy-food nexus, particularly in Southeast Asian context.

    Monday 11 Sep | Otakaari 5 "A Grid", Jeti | 13-14.30 (NOTE: exceptional starting time and location!)
    LECTURE 2 "State of the world and development"
    Pekka Haavisto, Member of Parliament

    Pekka Haavisto is a seventh-term Member of Parliament and former Foreign Minister. Haavisto is a peace negotiator and a defender of democracy and human rights. In foreign policy and international roles, Haavisto is particularly skilled. He has led investigations into the environmental impacts of wars and represented the EU and the UN in crises around the world. Haavisto has also authored numerous books. His beloved hobbies include literature and wooden boats.

    Monday 18 Sep | Otakaari 1, A1 | 10-12
    LECTURE 3 "Finnish Development Policy"
    Annika Kaipola, Ministry of Foreign Affairs

    Ms. Annika Kaipola 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 at the United Nations and the Government of Finland. The geographical focus of Ms. Kaipola has been in Asia where she spent over 7 years working mainly with issues related to sustainable management of natural resources. In her current role at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland she in engaged in developing results-based management as well as effectiveness of development cooperation.

    Wednesday 20 Sep | Startup Sauna's Garage, Puumiehenkuja 5 | 10-12 (NOTE: exceptional location!)
    LECTURE 4 "SGT Alumni Panel: Global goals in action"
    Facilitator: Suvi Virkkunen, Red Cross
    • Dr. Elina Lehikoinen, Advisor in Climate and Environment, Suomen Lähetysseura / FELM (Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Mission)
    • Martina Dahm, Designer at Yhteiset Lapsemme ry and Human Rights Observer at World Council of Churches
    • Erik Salminen, Associate Environmental Affairs Officer at the Water Convention Secretariat (UNECE)

    In this panel, SGT alumni Elina (SGT Tanzania, 2013), Martina (SGT Nepal, 2018) and Erik (SGT Tanzania, 2017) will share their professional journey and stories in the areas governance, development and advocacy work for global goals. The discussion is moderated by Suvi Virkkunen, an expert with more than 20 years work experience in development policy and cooperation both with civil society organisations at national, EU and global level.

    Monday 25 Sep | Otakaari 1, A1 | 10-12
    LECTURE 5 "Meta-crisis & Complexity"
    Dr. Sara Lindeman, Leapfrog Projects

    Dr. Lindeman is a founder and mission holder at Leapfrog. Leapfrog is a think-and-do tank that build capabilities for deep societal transformation. Starting her work in academia, she holds a PhD in sustainable market organizing. Later, she initiated and led a large transdisciplinary research and innovation project on how to co-innovate the future’s sustainable solutions for emerging markets. 

    Wednesday 27 Sep | Otakaari 1, A2 | 10-12
    LECTURE 6 "Humanitarian Urbanism"
    Francesco Tonnarelli, UN-Habitat & Tallinn University of Technology

    Francesco Tonnarelli is an urban development specialist with the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), and a PhD candidate at Tallinn University of Technology. He has managed and supported high-profile and complex projects for different agencies of the United Nations, such as UN-Habitat and UNHCR, mainly in East Africa and the Horn, Central and South Asia, with a specific focus on durable solutions for displacement crises and the development of capacities of local and national governments in urban and regional planning. As a doctoral researcher, Francesco conducts research on governance mechanisms of smart city transition and their impact on urban planning and service delivery in Africa and overlooked geographies.

    Monday 2 Oct | Otakaari 1, A1 | 10-12
    LECTURE 7 "Green transitions & innovations"
    Jussi Impiö, Aalto University Solutions for Sustainability

    Jussi Impiö leads the strategic sustainability work at Aalto University, aiming to increase Aalto´s positive impact in the world and making real the Aalto´s solutions oriented strategy purpose “Shaping a sustainable future”. Before Aalto University Jussi worked at the think tank Demos Helsinki focusing on radical global corporate climate strategies and innovations for sustainable development. He has extensive previous experience in the industry, including leading Nokia’s research operations in Africa, working at Red Cross, founder of 2 start-ups and 22 patents.

    Wednesday 4 Oct | Otakaari 1, A2 | 10-12
    LECTURE 8 "Indigenous peoples and sustainability struggles: Perspectives from international law"
    Assistant Professor Dorothee Cambou, Helsinki University

    Dorothée Cambou is Assistant Professor of sustainability science at the Faculty of Law and HELSUS at the University of Helsinki. Her research examines international law and human rights, including the rights of Indigenous peoples, environmental and social justice issues linked with the governance of lands in the Arctic and the Global South. She is the current chair of the Nordic Network for Sámi and Indigenous Peoples Law (NORSIL) and a steering member of the Thematic Network on Arctic Sustainable Resources and Social Responsibility. 

    Monday 9 Oct | Otakaari 1, A1 | 10-12
    LECTURE 9 "Climate change & adaptation"
    Dr. Philipp Schmidt-Thomé, Geological Survey of Finland

    Dr. Schmidt-Thomé is a researcher and ‎International Operations Director at the Geological Survey of Finland (GTK). Schmidt-Thomé is a geographer 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 Southeast Asia. Apart from Aalto University he actively lectures for instance in the University of Alicante in Spain.  

    Wednesday 11 Oct | Otakaari 1, A2 | 10-12
    LECTURE 10 "Urban violence in the Global South: Inequalities and insecurities in Latin America"
    Associate Professor Florencia Quesada, Helsinki University

    Florencia Quesada Avendaño is Associate Professor in Latin American Studies, Department of Cultures, University of Helsinki. Trained as a historian her research interests include urban cultural history, sustainable tourism and urban studies. Currently, she is writing a monograph about the urban and cultural transformation of Guatemala City between 1880 and 1930. Her book about the urban modernization in San José, Costa Rica received the Cleto González Víquez Award from the Academy of Geography and History of Costa Rica.

  • Lecture materials and slides will be published here if the lecturer allows. They are only for the course use, do not distribute.

  • Not available unless: You are a(n) Student
    Assignment: Submit one creative reflection after each week of the course

    In these entries, make short reflections on the lectures of the week with a clear viewpoint. It could be a review of a presented topic, an answer to a question presented during the lecture or an insight you gained from group discussions. As there are two lectures per week, your entry can reflect on one or both. 

    Be creative! Drawings, comic strips, poems and alike are allowed and encouraged! If you are writing, it's important that the texts are short, concise and sharp - not much longer than this intro text! You may attach pictures, drawings, newspaper articles, videos or other media to support your writing!  Note:

    • Do not summarize lecture contents or give feedback about lecturers here! Concentrate on reflecting your learnings on the topic and issues raised instead. 
    • Reading and commenting each other's reflections is highly recommended! However, you still have to submit your own reflections in order to pass. 

    By the end of the course, you must have submitted five (5) reflections.  Meeting deadlines = passing the course!