Photo: Ilmari Fabritius
Cities all over the world are growing and offer their citizens almost unlimited opportunities. But rapid growth also brings massive challenges: social conflicts, environmental and health problems. If you feel the urge to understand and solve these complex global challenges, Urban Studies and Planning at University of Helsinki and Aalto University is your answer.
The Master’s Programme in Urban Studies and Planning combines the most important fields of urban studies into a progressive and interdisciplinary curriculum. “Urban development is such a complex issue, an integrated approach is the only way to go. Many themes are interdisciplinary and multi-sectoral by nature; you need to understand social sciences, engineering, architecture, ecology and so on. This doesn’t mean we have 40 professionals from different fields as teachers, but carefully selected world-class specialists who understand the big picture,” Director of the Programme, Professor Mari Vaattovaara says.
Apply to one, get two top universities
To meet the challenge two top-level universities in Finland – University of Helsinki and Aalto University – have joined forces to create the contents of the Master’s Programme in Urban Studies and Planning. “This is a unique combination in two ways; not only for its interdisciplinary breadth, but also for the variety of topics students can focus on. It’s very important to have an understanding of the core areas of urban phenomena. Only then can you contextualise your own special field of interest in relation to others,” Professor Vaattovaara explains.
Students can choose from three study tracks: Urban Planning and Design, Urban Life, Economy and Cultures or Urban Ecologies and Systems. Courses include extensive co-teaching to ensure multiple perspectives on core topics. The Programme prepares graduates for positions in urban development within public, private and non-profit organisations. “Educated professionals are in demand in this field. Our Master’s Programme has been built to ensure sufficient expertise to work in various expert roles, in Finland and internationally,” Mari Vaattovaara says.
Real-life study projects
The Master’s Programme draws on the unique Helsinki context. “Helsinki is in many ways a special place to study and research urban planning. We have close collaboration in the Helsinki area, not only between universities, but also with municipalities. This provides our students with a practical framework and research topics with societal relevance to work with,”says Vaattovaara. “The city is international and growing rapidly, but Finland is still a small, homogeneous country, where relations to decision-makers are open. External experts and researchers can really have their say in planning the city. Our special position between east and west also makes it easy to find influences from both cultures.”
Urbanisation has been shaping the way we live already for decades. But the phenomenon is still growing and changing our societies at increasing speed. “The Master’s Programme is very much forward-looking. It is essential to understand current urban development issues, but it is not enough. City planning is a long term project; planners and researchers need to foresee how people want to live, move and use urban space in the future.”