Working Group 12: Adaptive Handprints and trandisciplinarity


Matleena Muhonen SGT Programme Manager, Aalto ENG (
Kristjana Adalgeirsdóttir PhD cand., Aalto ARTS (
Saija Hollmén Vice Dean, Aalto ARTS (

ADAPTIVE HANDPRINTS working group will presents ongoing trans-disciplinary research and education programmes coordinated by WiTLAB at Aalto University. Topics include case studies and projects on environmental, social and cultural sustainability, cultural adaptability, local participation and co-design. All is focused on the newly developed HANDPRINT approach for sustainable development. “The best one can get with a footprint is no impact at all. The potential of a handprint is unlimited.” (Jon Biemer, 2013) Aalto WiT (World in Transition) LAB is a network of researchers and projects at Aalto University, focusing on resilient communities, humanitarian architecture, sustainable technologies and grass roots action. It supports two educational master’s level programmes; SGT (Sustainable Global Technology) and IoC (Interplay of Cultures) where architecture, engineering, design and business students contribute to sustainable development. Each year, students take part in real-life projects in Africa, Asia and Latin America to study the diverse connections between sustainability, technology, cultural and societal challenges.

The transdisciplinary educational programmes IoC ad SGT aim to:
● give a holistic view to the state of the world and development
● emphasize the role of sustainability and technology in development
● introduce methods applicable into developing world context
● give opportunity to work in multicultural and multidisciplinary working environments
● give practical experiences from international projects with real client / partner
● building the capacity of university students and faculty in partner country to respond to global challenges and the use of problem based learning methodologies (incl. design thinking, human centered design, human rights based approach)

The working group will consist of 3 presentations covering the pedagogical, research and practical work of Aalto WiTLAB with focus on ADAPTIVE HANDPRINTS
1. Education: MM present SGT and IoC Programs
2. Research: KAD presents ongoing research at WiTLAB
3. CBL: Stories from students: presentation of field work and experiences

Keywords: CBL education and research (Challenge based learning), sustainability, multidisciplinarity, society – impact, cultural adaptivity

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