U-Create Symposium: Teaching Art and Design Across Disciplines

The first U-create teaching symposium focuses on transdisciplinarity in art and design. Welcome to share your ideas and practices related to art and design pedagogy.
U-Create Teaching and Learning Seminar
Illustration by Lin Pei-Yu

Art and design can be integrated in the education of different disciplines. However, this integration is a complex process that does not happen automatically. This time U-Create seminar focuses on what takes place inside the class-rooms.

The aim is to advance Aalto University’s creative pedagogy by sharing experiences and to establish a community of teachers who are interested in new ways of learning and advanced transdisciplinary pedagogy.

Join our community for new ways of teaching

What does transdisciplinary teaching require pedagogically? What does it mean to be exposed to other study and design cultures and vocabularies without means of creating deeper level dialogue? How do the game-changer teachers get their messages across? What things do not work? How they have shifted their teaching? What kind of challenges they have confronted? What are the hot topics to teach that are relevant in the sustainable future?

The symposium does not provide clear answers, but rather invites to reflect teaching with people who share the same interest. In each session, we will have two teachers to share and discuss their work.

Agenda & Schedule

09.30 – 10.00   Coffee & Welcome words Turkka Keinonen

10.00 – 11.00  Art school, Museum & Activism

                        Mabel Tapia, Reina Sofia Museum Madrid

11.00 – 12.00 Design thinking today

                       Oscar Person (Design thinking+business, ARTS)

                       Katja Hölttä-Otto (Design thinking+engineering, ENG)

12.00 – 13.00  Lunch at own cost

13.00 – 14.00  Creative Sustainability

                      Tatu Marttila (cross-disciplinary, pedagogy and sustainability, ARTS)

                      Anniina Suominen (art education+sustainability)

14.00 – 15.00 Design Pedagogy

                      Pirita Seitamaa-Hakkarainen, University of Helsinki                                                                             (Design studio as pedagogical model for creativity education)

                      Salu Ylirisku (design in engineering, ELEC)                                        

15.00 –        Drinks and mingling at the 3rd floor roof terrace

Presenting our lovely speakers.


École Européenne Supérieure de l’Image / L’Internationale-Museo Centro de Arte Reina Sofía

Mabel is a contemporary art researcher. She holds her master's degree in Contemporary Art and New technologies from the Universite de Paris VIII and she is finishing a PHD at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales. Her research work focuses on artistic practices of the 21st century that are mainly characterized by the deactivation of the aesthetic function, articulating the use of archives, heuristic proposals and political practice. Likewise, the research develops a reflection on processes of legitimation, valorization and visibility of contemporary practices, related to the reification phenomenon in the framework of new paradigms that are both artistic and socio-economic. Mabel Tapia is member of Red Conceptualismos del Sur and she was its coordinator during 4 years. She also takes part of the IDEA-Z [International Domestic Exhibition by affinity, Zelarrayan] platfrom. Currently, she is Project Manager of L’Internationale, a confederation of seven art institutions in Europe and she works at Museo Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid. She is also Co-director of the Post-graduated programme (DSRA) «Document & Contemporary Art», École Européenne Supérieure de l'image (EESI) and École Nationale Supérieure d'Art de Bourges (ENSA Bourges), since 2017.

Her talk is about:

Art school, Museum and Activism as places for producing and sharing knowledge: Extra-disciplinary perspectives in art research today

At the turn of 20th century, a multiplicity of heterogeneous art practices operates redefining the inscription of art within social structures. These art practices base their mode of being in a deactivation of the aesthetic function, which implies that these practices activate three other main functions: the political, the critical and the heuristic ones. It is this last function, the heuristic one, that enables to explore different ways and conceptions of producing and sharing knowledge (rather than teaching or learning). The point today is to identify and to characterize them. Therefore art schools, museums and activisms should be looked at from an extra-disciplinary perspective.


Katja is a professor of Product Development at the Design Factory, Department of Mechanical Engineering in the School of Engineering.

Her research areas include empathy, user centered design, creativity and need finding. She is interested in how empathy and creativity can be developed and learned and how creativity evolves during engineering education. She is also interested in novel methods for finding latent needs, needs not expressed by the user. She is also active in the area of systems engineering and does research in complex system architecture.

Katja teaches product development methods including design thinking. She is in charge of the ME310 Global Innovation Program at Aalto University:, which is part of the global SUGAR network on global interdisciplinary design thinking (

Katja is a recipient of the NSF CAREER award and has won nine best paper awards or similar distinctions. She is an associate editor for the ASME Journal of Mechanical Design and an active member of the ASME Design Theory and Methodology community.


Oscar is an assistant professor of design integration, and the team leader of the SDIM research group at the Department of Design, Aalto School of Arts, Design and Architecture.

He received his doctorate from Delft University of Technology.


Tatu Marttila (D.A. in Design) works as a postdoctoral researcher in INUSE and NODUS research groups at Department of Design.

He also works as a lecturer in Creative Sustainability (CS) study program, focusing on sustainability in design. He is an alumnus from the School of ARTS in Aalto University, with interest in understanding how design professionals can develop to become an effectual part in facilitating sustainable change, in projects and collaborations as platforms for transdisciplinary action.

His talk is about:

”Learning interprofessional design for sustainability”

The focus of this talk is to revisit findings from the doctoral research that was defended in 2018, studying interprofessional design education in the context of sustainability, and more specifically the first five years of the cross-school study program Creative Sustainability. Based on the findings, the presentation revisits the potential in design to transdisciplinary sustainability, and asks how far should universities evolve in the face of contemporary global challenges.


Pirita (Ph.D.) is professor of Craft Studies at the University of Helsinki, Faculty of Educational Sciences. She is also docent at Aalto University, The school of Arts, Design and Architecture.

Pirita Seitamaa-Hakkarainen has built her research program on the development and application of cognitive and sociocultural theories of design and making processes, the nature of the distributed expertise and the theory of knowledge building. The main focuses of the overall research is to analyze expertise in design, the nature of the design process and the role of the external representation, embodiment, materiality in the design studio learning and makerspaces (STEAM).

She has been analysing collaboration (face-to-face and technology-mediated interaction), and embodiment in various settings, and at different level of education. The role of scaffolding in education settings, both scaffolding in social interaction as well as that mediated by material artifacts has been focus of her research. She has carried out several research projects funded by Academy of Finland that have focused on technology-mediated learning. Recently she is interested in maker-centered learning at Digital Age as well as socio-materiality in Design Studio.

Her talk is about:

Design studio as pedagogical model for creativity education.


Dr. Salu Ylirisku works as a design teacher in Aalto ELEC. He has a diverse background in computer science (University of Helsinki), user-centred concept design (Aalto University), design theory and facilitation (University of Southern Denmark). During his doctoral study, Ylirisku developed a pedagogical theory of design as a form of learning, which he deepened while working as an Associate Professor of Embodied Design in Denmark. Ylirisku has also industrial background in information systems design and web design.

His talk is about:

In his talk Salu will address the pedagogical challenges related to educating future professionals, who are facing the increasing pressure to become both reflective practitioners and domain specialist at the same time. He addresses seven tensions that he has identified between design and engineering curricula.

More information:

designer-in-residence Enni Äijälä

[email protected]

"The aim of the day is to develop our own thinking as well as showcase the interesting things we do at Aalto. U-create symposium is the place to learn best practices from each others as well as support creation of new methods and outcomes for transdisciplinary learning. The day is all about sharing & talking."

Aalto University promotes art and creativity in all disciplines and communities. One of our targets is to renew society through art, creativity and design. University-Wide Art Studies (UWAS) and Design Inside will organize a one-day symposium on teaching art and design in universities today. In addition to ARTS faculty, we’re targeting this event to everyone who’s interested bringing art and design pedagogies in any of Aalto’s engineering and business schools.

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