In Search of Radical Education/Knowledges

UWAS + Color of Science Symposium
Black font with the title of event arranged on white back ground and crossed by black and yellow construction tape

The concept of “radical education” calls for critical lines of inquiry and discussion on the many ways the academic community engages with radical topics in radical forms, and how care and complex intersections of knowledge, privilege, and agency are part of academic life and creative industries. This symposium asks the many disciplinary perspectives within and beyond Aalto University what radical education and research is, and discusses its possible routes for development. How can a university that aims to embrace radical creativity become a richer and responsible environment to welcome these tensions and debates head-on?

Among the key topics to debate, the symposium will approach the following questions: How are complex questions on diversity, equality and care being addressed in our academic community today? How might curriculums and research practices validate, provide space, and negotiate diverse and challenging forms of knowledge and practice? How might communities create spaces for unlearning or dismantling colonial mindsets?


Monday 22, November 2021

Film screening,
Dipoli, Takka room​  14:00. Conversation and QnA with the directors Fábio Nascimento and Ingrid Fadnes 15:30-16:30. Open event.
Documentary | Colorful | Digital | 79 min | Norway/Brazil | 2020

Faced with the advance of eucalyptus plantations, a farmer and an indigenous community position themselves as resistance and reveal the impact of monoculture on the environment, in contrast to traditional ways of life. The enemy can also be green. Mata is a very timely documentary about the loss of species diversity, climate change and the struggle of indigenous peoples and small farmers to preserve and defend the land on which they live. MATA means both ‘forest’ and ‘to kill’. MATA depicts the landscape in the southernmost part of the state of Bahia on the east coast of Brazil, which has changed drastically over the last decades. More information: Mata Filme.

Fábio Nascimento is a documentary photographer and filmmaker focused on misrepresented stories about humans, nature and science. Ingrid Fadnes is a journalist based in Norway working with long-reads, sound and image both from Norway and Latin-America.

Agency, Community and Structural Change

Dipoli, Takka room: 17.00–19.00

Students have been the driving force of decolonising efforts in many universities around the world in the past decade, as seen in the Rhodes Must Fall campaign at the University of Cape Town, or the UK's National Union of Students' “Why is my curriculum white?” campaign. Student- and alumni-driven organisation has also been present at universities and civil society in Finland. Specifically, in response to the renewed BLM movement in 2020, the distribution of widely shared Anti-racist strategies into the curriculum and a call for action have urged arts institutions to address structural racism have gained wider visibility.

Building on this background, this panel brings together students, alumni, and activists to share perspectives and exchange tools and practices on decolonising institutions. How can one approach this massive subject? What actions are possible? What resources are available? To address these questions, this panel engages with a conversation about agency, community and structural change.

The panel is organised by the teachers of the UWAS Decolonize your Studies course: graphic designer/artist Kiia Beilinson and audio producer/arts worker Miia Laine.


Nitin Sood (Fem R) Human rights professional whose expertise is in issues pertaining to non-discrimination and gender equality. He has been involved in a number of civil society organisations where he has worked in the matters of decolonisation and antiracism. Besides Finland, he has had the opportunity to learn, grow and experience in other parts of the world that has profoundly shaped his sense of solidarity and empowerment. Sood is guided by a strong passion to build a socially and ecologically sustainable and inclusive society where all of our stories are heard, seen and read. 

Vidha Saumya (No niin -magazine, MoIF) Helsinki based artist-poet with a Masters Degree in Visual Culture and Contemporary Art from the Aalto University. She is the co-founder and co-editor of NO NIIN, an online arts magazine; and a founding member of the Museum of Impossible Forms, an award-winning cultural centre in Kontula, Helsinki.

Una Auri Scenographer, visual artist and performance designer based in Helsinki. Their artistic work focuses on intersectional practices and mapping out the aesthetic evaluations and conventions linked to broader mechanisms producing social inequality. They explore the possibilities in which space and aesthetics can challenge hierarchical, binary and normative thinking. As a working method, they are interested in inefficiency, pötköttely and laziness. They were convenor of the petition demanding anti-racist strategies into the curriculum in spring of 2020.

Tuesday 23 of November 2021

Generating inclusive transdisciplinary knowledge(s) at the threshold of arts, science & society: Critical perspectives by researchers and practitioners

Dipoli, Palaver room: 17.00–19.00

Organized by Color of Science

Transdisciplinary approaches have created effective avenues for generating knowledge(s) that might be better positioned to question and transform social realities. Nevertheless, much work remains to be done to understand how research ambitions and transformative aspirations can be aligned in practice to engender societal transformations. Which transdisciplinary knowledge(s) and research are we generating and for whom? 

Panelists will share diverse perspectives and practices through concrete projects of knowledge production and we will discuss and learn how can we move forward together.

Guests: Sumita SharmaLeonardo CustódioJaz Hee-jeong Choi,  and Andrea Botero (Aalto Arts Research Fellow). Hosts: Nitin Sawhney Aalto Department of Computer Science,and Caterina Soldano Department of Electronics and Nanoengineering.

Colors of Science is an Aalto wide initiative engaging critical perspectives from scientists and researchers of color and the Indigenous. It is supported by the School of Science Diversity and Inclusivity fund.


Sumita Sharma. Post-doc researcher at the INTERACT Research Unit, University of Oulu, Finland. Her research focuses on digital and social inclusion of children through technology design, use, access, and up-skilling, working with neurotypical children in schools, children living in urban slums, children with special needs, and children in remote communities. She is interested in studying how to overcome socio-cultural barriers towards empowerment of children and designing ethical and fair technologies and technologies of the future for and by children. Her research interests also include accessibility, ethical AI, design futuring, and HCI4D. 

Leonardo Custódio. Afro-Brazilian post-doctoral researcher at Åbo Akademi University, Finland. In his research, activism and teaching, Custódio analyses and promotes uses of media and communication by people who suffer from social inequalities. He is the author of "Favela media activism: Counterpublics for human rights in Brazil" (2017, Lexington Books). He also coordinates the Anti-Racism Media Activist Alliance (ARMA Alliance), and the Activist Research Network.

Jaz Hee-jeong Choi. Director of the Care-full Design Lab and Vice-Chancellor’s Principal Research Fellow at RMIT Australia. Her transdisciplinary research and practice currently explore care-full design for liveable and equitable futures across three inter-related domains: self-care and mutual aid; creative and impactful research methods, and; co-creative urban transformation.

Andrea Botero. Colombian Academy of Finland Fellow at the school of Arts, Design and Architecture of Aalto University in Finland and co-inspirator at the design studio Suo&Co. Her design and research work explore the possibilities and contradictions inherent in the design of environments, tools and media that afford more relational and caring interactions amongst, and between people and their environment. 


Nitin Sawhney (co-host). Professor of Practice in the Department of Computer Science at Aalto University. As a human-centered design researcher he examines the critical role of technology, civic media, and urban interventions in crisis and contested spaces.  He has co-directed two documentary films, Flying Paper, an award-winning film supported by National Geographic, about culture of kite-flying among children in Gaza despite the war, and Zona Intervenida, a performance-based documentary dealing with the historical memory of genocide in Guatemala.  At Aalto University, Nitin has embarked on a collaborative research project with THL on Reconstructing Crisis Narratives, supported by a 3-year grant from the Academy of Finland. 

Caterina Soldano (co-host). Assistant Professor in the Department of Electronics and Nanoengineering at Aalto University. Her current research area focuses on organic light emitting materials and devices to be exploited for next-generation electronics for flexible and wearable applications. She holds a MSc degree in Physics from University of Bari (Italy) and a MSc/PhD in Physics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (NY, USA). Before joining Aalto University in 2019, Caterina has worked as a researcher in Italy, US and France, both in academic and R&D environments. 


Wednesday 24 of November 2021

Escaping Eurocentrism: Rethinking curriculum development and pedagogical approaches

Faculty workshop. Facilitators: Eva Durall and Jane Vita

Online: 16.00–18.00

Dismantling colonial and racist relations of power in academia requires a critical examination of practices, but also of assumptions regarding what and whose knowledge are considered worth. This workshop aims to contribute to this process by triggering reflection and searching possible alternatives to Eurocentric logics in higher education.

Wednesday 24 of November 2021

Who Cares? – A peer-led workshop on radical education now Facilitators: Francesca Bogani Amadori, Nimco Hussein, Anna Lioliou, and Maikki Siuko

In person: Dipoli, Takka room: 17.00–20.00. Places: 20. Snacks will be served.

Online group: 17.00–20.00. Places: 15

A team of Aalto alumni and students have come together to activate discussions and initiatives with peers on the key topics of this symposium — specifically, how they touch upon student life. In the light of complex questions on diversity, equality, and care, how do we perceive current education and life as students in Aalto? Are these questions truly being addressed in our academic community? Which values are shaping the new curriculum? How might we create collaborative spaces for unlearning colonial mindsets?

The aim is to share experiences, increase understanding, and come up with ways that explore what could be done differently in the academic community. The workshop will run with two parallel groups: one online and another in person. More information on topics and dynamics will be released shortly.

Color of Science
  • Published:
  • Updated: