Smart Society – ingredients for a degree programme

In the Smart Society workshop, researchers, teachers and students from diverse fields gathered to think about how to develop studies on intelligent society in Tampere3.

In the Smart Society workshop, researchers, teachers and students from diverse fields gathered to think about how to develop studies on intelligent society in Tampere3.

The problem with urban development in Finland is that the various actors in the field are scattered in their own silos. Curriculum designers at Tampere3 tackled this question by creating the Smart Society project.

“There does not seem to be much comprehensive know-how that would range from planning and architecture via political decision-making to construction, at least not in Finland,” says Heli Harrikari, Dean of the Faculty of Business and Built Environment at Tampere University of Technology.

“The guiding idea of the Smart Society project is to develop broader competence in the Tampere3 context where the core idea is multiple and wide-ranging know-how,” Harrikari says.

The idea for the Smart Society study programme or study module started from the curriculum design work of Tampere3.

“When we formed the curriculum design groups, we discovered we had a diverse group of experts on social sciences, construction and history, among other things, who were doing research on this theme,” Harrikari says.

“We started to develop the idea to have the built environment and urban development as our common denominator. The vice-rectors in the Education Management Group came up with the term ‘smart society’ when we organised a meeting with the deans who concentrate on these fields. We are talking about developing the smart society,” Harrikari explains.

Diverse perspectives

A 6-person working group consisting of deans, vice-deans and heads of education in these fields started to develop the smart society idea. At the beginning of November, the group organised a workshop to which researchers, teachers and students were invited to develop the idea further. Among others, experts in architecture, civil engineering and social sciences participated in the workshop.

“We used the working group as a sounding board to hear opinions of whether such education would be needed and how this idea could be further developed in Tampere3,” Harrikari says. One thing discussed was whether a degree programme should be built on this basis.

“The participants’ diverse perspectives were the best thing the workshop offered. People enthusiastically started to think about what can be got out of such a package in Tampere3 with its emphasis on multidisciplinarity,” Harrikari says.

Ingredients for a degree programme or a minor subject?

Developing the programme is a part of curriculum design in Tampere 3. By the end of 2017, the working group will have to decide whether there is sufficient material for a degree programme that would admit the first students in the autumn of 2019.

“We will take this programme forward in one way or another and its development will certainly not end in the autumn of 2019. We are currently using the results from the workshop to decide whether we will design a degree programme, a minor subject or some other type of study module,” Harrikari says.

Over the last couple of years, cooperation has already started in these fields, for example between architecture at TUT and the Faculties of Management and Social Sciences at UTA. The idea is thus nothing new but it is now being developed into a whole that will strengthen research and education in Tampere3.

The future of the project looks promising.

“Much is going on in Tampere3 right now and sometimes things move forward smoothly and at other times they can be slightly more arduous. This project is one of the things that are nice to do because it seems that all the partners in the project are committed to taking Smart Society further,” Harrikari says.

For more information, please contact:
Dean Heli Harrikari,

Text and photograph: Ida Vahtera