• Diversity University

    12 May 2014


    Since their merger in 2010, the schools of technology, business and arts bear the distinguished title of Aalto University.

    Identified in the Humboldtian principle of the unity of research and teaching, the label university marks institutions that do not receive their teachings’ content from elsewhere. On the contrary, as the highest educational form our culture knows, they not only generate the content of textbooks, but indeed continuously review and update textbooks.

    The universitarian habitus, characterized as the reciprocal relation between the studying subject and studied matter under the provision of critical reflexivity, denotes a process of study that is unstable in all phases, at all times: as a student reforms her position through studying, the studied matter is reformed through the scrutiny exerted upon it.

    The instability of this process presupposes in the student (the university teacher, the observing public) a readiness to endure through constant uncertainty and to undertake the risks that lie in coping with it, independently. This is the universitarian competence: the faculty of approaching any matter as something that is never knowledge, but only pre-knowledge. As it becomes not only discipline-specific but fundamental personal ability, it sets the stage for life-long exploration and continuous development, and informs critical judgment.

    In its six schools Aalto University unites the studies of science, economy, engineering and the arts. Particularly with respect to today’s professional world, where commerce, technology and creativity appear as barely separable contributory factors for success, the applicable potential of their coordinated unification appears striking, even obvious. But when regarded from the perspective of knowledge creation, it is another potential of such a merger that eclipses even this promise.

    As shown by the brilliant productions in this year’s Masters of Aalto exhibition, technology, commerce and creative production can be entered into as fields for engagement and exploration from many different approaches. The critical exchange that immediately becomes apparent between dissimilar studies and practices is easily identified as the most powerful agent for our understanding of their complexity: the difference between process refinement and the quest for purposeful application, the tension between push-ahead progression and the need to hold still and reflect, and what appears as opposition irresistibly combined with mutual dependence on strategic and impulsive motion.

    Each work, even if it may appear purely technical (and thus, apparently, ethically “neutral”), expresses belief and conviction. Each marks a position and states a view on our world. We are indebted to the multitude of views that Aalto unites under its roof. Their difference, incompatibility, and even contradiction, create the uncertainty that is the mark of excellence of the university: the instability of the result.

    Masters of Aalto is a precious and unique moment that realizes the potential that lies in the young body of Aalto University. Besides the abundant opportunities that students gain at Aalto to extend beyond the limits of their disciplines, Masters of Aalto sets the public table around which their many views can not only confer, but disagree, and challenge and discuss with one another, and generate the energy that is necessary to again and again ignite the vitally important, and inherently universitarian effort of thinking, autonomously.


    Martin Born
    Thematic Developer

  • Masters of Aalto: Behind the scenes

    30 Apr 2014


    How do you showcase 42 multidisciplinary works of 63 students of design, business, technology and design together? How do you exhibit the important role of universities and higher education in society?

    I am a third year Art Education student and I work as a trainee in Masters of Aalto 2014. My job consists mainly of assisting the producer of the show in various tasks. There is a lot of organizing, scheduling and coordinating to be done: not only in getting all the students in the right time to the right place with the right equipment, but also to keep everything from communications and marketing, architecture and construction to safety and creativity on track.

    I am also looking forward to the guided tours we are doing together with my co-students for the exhibition visitors. It is rewarding to be able to present the works and their background to the audience in further detail.

    It has been inspiring to follow the work of the four tireless architect students, Angela Lin, Sarah Nilles, Madeleine Walcher and Wesley Walters who made the interior design for the exhibition space. They have worked for months in close contact with the whole Masters of Aalto team and their vision will communicate with the exhibition pieces.

    Also alumni are working hand in hand with the Masters of Aalto team to give their support to the students of today. We can thank their knowledge when we are browsing these web sites and when bumping into the visuals and marketing materials in the tram or at the exhibition.

    During all the years I have studied at the Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture, the Masters event in May has been a “must”. This year the head of departments have selected the best works of their students to participate in Masters of Aalto. And there are some Master pieces around! For example, ‘Ripsiraita’ by Hanna Ahonen, a former student at Applied Art and Design, just recently won Grafia’s Vuoden huiput award, the competition for the best creations within Finnish advertising and design.

    As an art education student it is interesting to see works from all the different fields of Aalto University. Students such as me, who study mainly at the arty Arabia campus, are not always exposed to the hi-tech works of Otaniemi students. It has been wonderful to see that the difference between science and art is really small when it comes to creative thinking.

    Masters of Aalto takes over Eteläesplanadi 16.5.–1.6. See you there!

    Jani Nummela
    Masters of Aalto 2014

Masters of Aalto made possible by:

Artek Bionade Design Forum Finland Elisa Svenska Teatern

Environmental awareness plays a significant role in the production of Masters of Aalto.
The event utilises the EcoCompass system of the Helsinki Environment Centre.