Pilot case

Sustainability Game Changers

Providing students with the basics of sustainability.
Sustainability Game Changers

Pilot leader

Katri Pulkkinen


School of Engineering


11 students


Oct 2016 – May 2017


Sustainability Game Changers is a mindset course on sustainablity for all Aalto bachelor level students. The mindset the course aims to promote is that sustainability should be the starting point of all of our actions. Most people are well aware that, taken together, our life-styles form an unsustainable mix for the planet. However, many have gaps in their knowledge of actual risks and planetary boundaries that our modern life is threatening. Therefore, the first goal of the pilot is to provide the students the basics of sustainability – what do we currently know about the planet, its functioning and our impact on the planet’s ecosystem.

The current unsustainable way of living is based on myriad worldview-level beliefs, that seem to force us to continue living in unsustainable ways. Even though we are aware of climate change, biodiversity loss and other kinds of threats, something keeps us from acting. Therefore, the course also aims to empower students. The main method for this is storytelling. During the course, the students get acquainted with stories of game changers and game changing movements. A final task for them is also to tell their own story of sustainability. Through this exercise, we hope to nudge the mindset of the students into thinking that change for the better is possible, and that they themselves can also have an impact.

Yet another thesis of the course is that sustainability game changer doesn’t have to work alone. The course links the student with sustainability actors and research within Aalto University demonstrating that solutions can be found from all Aalto Schools.

Through this the course aims to build and strengthen the network of sustainability actors within the university.

The overall goal is to develop an Aalto-wide online course for bachelor students that achieves the following:

  1. provides students with basics of sustainability
  2. provides students with a game changing mindset and skills to enable them to act as change agents
  3. helps to build an Aalto-wide network of sustainability actors

Platforms and tools

During the first round, the course relies heavily on the MyCourses platform and the video platform Panopto, for the submission of video tasks. The course consists of modules. Each module has a page in MyCourses with related material and tasks. There are four modules that are meant to be performed in succession and one support module with directions for the video tasks.

Pedagogical methods

The special online learning method that the project will develop is the use of video and vlogging – a blog or learning diary in a form of a video.

Videos or vlogs can be used for

  • lectures – communicating from teachers to students
  • delivering the course tasks – communicating from students to teachers
  • two-way communication – between the students and teachers
  • working, commenting and communication within group works

Involved courses

SPT-EV – Sustainability Game Changers (5 ECTS)


Initial experiences

The course was advertised through Aalto electronic channels and with posters in around the campus. The initial interest surprised us in terms of volume. Initially 100 people enrolled. Unfortunately, 50 of them dropped out during the course, and so far 11 have returned the final assignment. Feedback from the students who participated in the final face-to-face session was very positive and constructive. We still aim to collect feedback from those who enrolled but didn’t complete the course. However, we heard such numbers are not unheard of when it comes to elective courses.

Initial experiences from the use of video

The Panopto platform together with the equipment available through Aalto (including video studio and takeout.aalto.fi) provided an adequate framework for making and returning video tasks. When it comes to content, students were mostly well prepared to produce videos. However, in future, there is a need to develop technical tutoring during the course beyond static material on the course pages to improve the technical quality of the submissions.


Katri Pulkkinen
School of Engineering, Department of Built Environment
Pilot leader

Aija Staffans

Maria Viitanen

Jesús Rosales Carreon

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