Open course to tackle the basics of climate change

Finland needs a new generation of climate change experts. Joint efforts have been made with the University of Helsinki in the lead.

Scientists, teachers, experts and students from higher education institutions have joined forces with Sitra to create an open course on the basics of climate change – It is a course that meets a clear need to educate a new generation of climate experts for all fields, one that understands the fundamentals of climate change and can apply this knowledge within their respective fields.

"This is a multidisciplinary module open to everyone. It offers a new kind of course concept for use in higher education institutions. The goal is to get the course into every university and university of applied sciences in Finland. At the same time, we'll be able to take full advantage of the synergies between universities and share resources needed for teaching," explains Professor Markku Kulmala of the University of Helsinki.

Although was set up as a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course), it differs from conventional MOOCs in that the course schedule also includes contact teaching.

"The goal is that each student taking the course will gain an understanding of what the phenomenon is all about and be inspired to tackle climate change with their own expertise," says researcher Laura Riuttanen of University of Helsinki.

She was responsible for co-ordinating the creation of the course.

Built and tested through co-creation

The package was developed by experts in natural sciences and pedagogy, as well as the arts, and the course videos were produced in co-operation with media students. The course was jointly developed by the University of Helsinki (project co-ordinator), Lappeenranta University of Technology, Metropolia University of Applied Sciences and Sitra. The University of the Arts Helsinki, Aalto University, the Finnish Meteorological Institute and the Ministry of Education and Culture are also involved.

The course material has been tested by some 30 university, university of applied sciences and organisation representatives working in different fields. Experts in, for example, engineering, tourism, environmental sciences, theology and design took part in the testing.

The impetus for developing an online course package originated from round-table discussions between the Academy of Finland, the Climate Leadership Council and Sitra. These discussions and the report "lmastoalan yliopisto-opetuksen nykytila Suomessa” (“The current state of climate change education in Finnish universities” – available in Finnish only) showed that the basics of climate change are not being studied comprehensively enough in higher education institutions with regard to different subjects, even though there is a need to understand the phenomenon in all fields.

"We hope that this new type of course approach will help to build the climate knowledge of experts from different fields and put Finnish expertise at the forefront of fighting climate change," says Sitra Director Mari Pantsar.

According to a Sitra report, annual markets valued at over 6,000 billion euros will be opening for smart, green solutions by the year 2050, in a world adapting to climate change. The course provides students with invaluable tools to take advantage of this business opportunity.

Course material is accessible in both Finnish and English:

Additional information:

Liisa Lahti, Specialist, Sitra, tel. +358 (0)40 849 6919,

Laura Riuttanen, Researcher, University of Helsinki, tel. +358 (0)50 415 4746,

Tuula Sjöstedt, Communications and Public Affairs Lead, Sitra, tel. +358 (0)50 3738 601,

Minna Meriläinen-Tenhu, Science Communicator, University of Helsinki, tel. +358 50415 0316,