Thesis teams resolving global challenges

Completed project October 2017- September 2019

Aalto University developed a new model for master’s programme students to prepare their thesis. In the model, students from various disciplines solve together challenges provided by Aalto University’s partner companies, and each student writes his or her own master’s thesis based on the collaboration.

What was it about?

The project was a part of the study module Circular economy teaching for all levels of education that was implemented between 2017 and 2019. Sitra’s vision was that all graduates should understand what the circular economy means for their work and everyday lives and what kinds of decisions and actions they can take to promote the circular economy. The aim was to increase circular economy expertise in Finland by extensive development of circular economy teaching, materials, concepts and co-operation that study the matters from various perspectives for all levels of education. More than 50 educational institutions, teaching organisations and companies participated in the study module.

What was achieved?

The Aalto University project for promoting circular economy teaching developed a new thesis model based on collaboration and a multidisciplinary approach. Instead of working on their theses on their own, master’s students form multidisciplinary teams of between two and four students. The purpose of the collaboration is that the team jointly develops a solution to a challenge provided by Aalto University’s partner company. In addition, each student produces a thesis in accordance with the requirements of his/her field of science for his/her own educational institution.

Collaborating with each other, Aalto University, students and partner companies generated new perspectives, information and solutions on the role of the circular economy in the real estate and construction industry. The thesis teams will continue their operation in other fields as well in the Aalto Thesis programme.

Who participated?

Aalto University was responsible for implementing the project. Sitra funded the project and the project managers at Sitra were Riitta Silvennoinen and Nani Pajunen. Sitra also took part in modifying the assignments given and guiding the theses.


Nani Pajunen
Senior Lead, Sustainability solutions

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