Laurea International Week 2024: ”Designing Sustainable Futures”

Teksti | Sini Aalto-Friman

Our annual Laurea International Week ”Designing Sustainable Futures” was organized on 18th – 22nd March 2024. The general programme was organized on Leppävaara campus from Monday to Friday. The arriving teaching staff (16 teachers) were teaching on Tikkurila and Leppävaara campuses mainly during Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. At the same time there was guests from the US at Hyvinkää attending the International Day and guests from Nigeria attending the Ethical Leadership & Management Symposium in Tikkurila. The general international week programme was both for teaching and non-teaching staff. Many met individually with Laurea staff members of some specific field. Every day there was programme that was open to Laurea staff members and Laurea students as well.

Guests at our International Lounge in Leppävaara. Photo by Sini Aalto-Friman

Laurea International Week is very popular. We received so many applications that we were unable to accept all who wanted to join us. After some cancellations we had all in all 57 guests attending the international week from almost 20 countries. Some parts of the programme had online viewing possibility.

Monday March 18th, 2024

The week started with registrations at Leppävaara campus lobby. We also had some of our hospitality management students daily in the lobby having a tourism information desk, which the guests enjoyed.

The event started with a welcome session, where Jouni Koski, Laurea President, all Unit Directors and Laurea International Team presented Laurea and themselves.

Our keynote speaker of the week was Futurist Elina Hiltunen. The name of her inspiring speech was: Three Keys to the Futures: Anticipating, Innovating and Communicating.

Photo: Our Keynote Speaker, Futurist Elina Hiltunen, photo by Sini Aalto-Friman.

The afternoon continued with campus tours in Leppävaara where our senior lecturers and students presented our campus spaces. Finally, we ended the first day with our Meet & Greet Afterwork where we heard some songs of Laurea Singers and tasted delicious Finnish tastes prepared by Bar Laurea.

Finnish tastes by Bar Laurea with some sparkling wine, photo by Sini Aalto-Friman

Tuesday March 19th, 2024

The second day started with a lecture of our Senior Lecturer Paresh Rathod with Maria Chiara De Angelis with the title Transforming Higher Education for the Digital Age: Sharing Best Practices of Graduate Working-Life Competence Development in European HEIs. PhD Maria Chiara De Angelis is a Research Fellow, Adjunct Professor at Link Campus University in Italy. After that the guests visited our Learning by Developing (LbD) Showroom Experience, where various projects were presented and showed how LbD works.

After lunch the guests could choose which Inclusion and Activity-Based workshop they want to attend. There was Diverse Talent workshop, Drama activity “All the layers of age within me”, All equal, all different and LbD in Nursing studies to choose from. Many guests enjoyed the sessions and thought they were inspiring.

In the afternoon we left for our excursion. Our hospitality management students organized the trip and we left with a bus from campus to “From past to present tour: Thousand stories of Espoo”. We had a guided tour in WeeGee museum and sightseeing guided by Hospitality Management Students. We also stopped in the Café Torpanranta by the sea for some Finnish delicacies.

Guided tour in WeeGee museum about Espoo. Photo by Sini Aalto-Friman

Wednesday March 20nd, 2024

Wednesday started with the presentation of Living labs, where the guests visited our four labs in groups. The Bar Laurea Lab gave us refreshing smoothies and we also visited the student restaurant and Flow. We tasted some delicious tastes of our students from Nepal.

The event lab was new also to me and many Laurea staff members. It includes a green screen and proper equipment for recording sessions. Our senior lecturers presented their work, materials etc. The digital living lab was exciting for all, when we got to meet our robot Pepper, test VR glasses and saw drones, 3D printers and heard our students present how they were used in teaching.

Guests enjoying the event lab visit. Photo by Sini Aalto-Friman

The last session I attended was circular economy lab where all participants could visualize their current reality and future reality, when considering sustainable futures with Legos. We saw an exhibition of exciting creations. It was fun to see guests let loose and drop their critical thinking.

After that we heard a presentation of Laurea’s Master programs by Development Manager Jani Merikivi. Principal Lecturer Ville Saarikoski had his lecture of Experimenting with digital implementations. Principal Lecturer Outi Ahonen raised the question” Do you want to be an influencer in Digital Transformation in Health Care? And finally Principal Lecturer Taina Vuorela explained about MBA PRO – Exploring new ways to study and collaborate via LbD and MOOCs.

In the afternoon we had our International Fair where the visitors presented their UAS or universities for Laurea students and staff. The guests brought a lot of material, tastes from their countries and some prepared even quizzes about their universities. Laurea students and staff visited the event, and it was a great atmosphere.

Photo: International atmosphere during International Fair in Leppävaara. Photo by Sini Aalto-Friman

Finally, we ended the day with the lecture about Research, Development, and Innovation (RDI) and Learning and Teaching. The guests had a free evening. The hospitality management students had prepared guided routes that the guests could walk through independently. That was one option for them for the free evening. Many guests enjoyed the sights in Helsinki and visited Löyly and Allas Sea pool, for example.

Thursday March 21st, 2024

The morning started with a networking event; “We are here for you at Laurea! Come and meet our degree programmes, services, and projects, with Laurea staff and get some coffee!” In this event Laurea degree programmes, services and projects were presented. Also, Laureamko student union was introducing their activities.

Networking event discussions. Photo by Sini Aalto-Friman

After lunch the day continued with the workshop “International Experience Development at Your Own University – Service Design Workshop”. It started in the auditorium with presentations of best practices of international projects. The day ended in the Service Design Workshop, where the guests had to plan and create a pitch for all. The final pitches were:

To provide opportunities to complete traineeships abroad: Establish strong partnerships abroad (and domestic). Students gain international experience, networking, university gains key partners, companies, knowledge exports.

How to get students to participate international fairs/days: Include academic community. Motivation and learning to students. Extra credits to students. Enhanced branding to university.

Train students in major global languages: Provide online apps for learning. Students become more diversified, confident, university attracts more students and global exposure.

Engage series of communications with top management of the university: Organize actual meetings and share best practices, engagement with partnerships. Students belonging and respect, university increases quality of education + finance.

Group photo at the service design workshop hosted by Antti Keskitalo and Marja Isokangas from Laurea. Photo by Mila Kajas-Virtanen.

In the evening we had a Farewell Dinner at Laurea Leppävaara, where we enjoyed a three-course meal together prepared by BarLaurea.

Guests starting the farewell dinner at Bar Laurea. Photo by Sini Aalto-Friman

Friday March 22nd, 2024

The final day started with Key Partnership Concept Presentation by Director Ilkka Kurkela. Then we heard of Insights into Digital pedagogy and Microlearning by Development Manager Mikael Uusi-Mäkelä.

Then we had workshops related to international affairs. There was a “Partnerships for Sustainable Blended Intensive programmes, Ideating and Networking Event”, one about topics related to Teacher and Staff mobilities and one regarding incoming exchange students.

Then we ended the week with giving prizes of the photo contest and giving certificates. After having lunch together, we had to say goodbye to all our guests.

Group photo of most guests. Photo by Sini Aalto-Friman

In conclusion

I was happy to see so many guests enjoying our week getting inspired by our inclusion, diversity and equity projects, lecturers, activities and our Living Labs concept. The guests learned about our best practices and various other topics and themes in the international atmosphere. As I am responsible of organizing the international event I am proud that our international week interests guests from year to year and some want to return after already visiting us. This is a wonderful opportunity to network, share ideas and best practices. We received so positive feedback from our guests that I could not be happier. The annual Laurea International Week is a wonderful example of internationalization of the whole Laurea community.


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