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Aalto ARTS gets its own course on entrepreneurial skills and making a creative life

Art, Life & Entrepreneurship: A User’s Guide is a three-credit course that starts in fall 2020. The course is designed by Aalto Ventures Program and the School of Arts, Design and Architecture to teach students skills and methods to build a sustainably creative life based on their personal interests and passions.
Visual design students working on a project

All higher education students benefit from entrepreneurial ways of thinking, but it is especially important for the students of the School of Arts, Design and Architecture, many of whom will find themselves working as freelancers and developing their own projects. Even in a corporate environment, user-centric thinking, creativity and project management ­– all typical skills of entrepreneurship – are especially valued and useful.

To better prepare students for a creative life, Aalto Ventures Program’s teachers Johannes Kaira and Håkan Mitts designed the Art, Life & Entrepreneurship: A User’s Guide course together with the faculty and staff from Aalto ARTS. The main purpose of the course is to understand and use each student’s ambitions to create a sustainable vocation. This begins by mapping the interests and talents of each student, and then figuring out in a practical way how and to whom these things could bring additional value and thus create a meaningful business. This is further expressed for students in other essentials such as creating a business plan, budgeting and basic accounting. The course also emphasizes the human dimension, taking care of oneself and others, whether it is in time management, coping with stress, building a team, or the overall social impact of the work.

“One of our major goals was s to create a course that gives students a head-start in building not just a career, but a creative life over the long-term. Entrepreneurship is one piece of this, but it's also a course about values, ideas, and a whole range of other practical skills”, says Christopher Bratton, Professor of Practice in Aalto ARTS and head of the School’s Transdisciplinary Arts Program.

The contents of the course were piloted last fall with graphic design students and resulted in extremely positive feedback. After understanding their deeply held interests, students identified people who they considered their career role models and then interviewed them. Similarly, students identified and interviewed those people who would be possible customers in order to understand the needs of both users and employers. This helped students understand that creative work is not just about self-realization; in order to create a vocation, others need to also see the value of one’s work.

Art, Life & Entrepreneurship: A User’s Guide runs for the first time in fall 2020 as an elective three-credit course as a part of the Transdisciplinary Arts Program of the School of Arts, Design and Architecture.

Questions and further information:

Johannes Kaira
Aalto Ventures Program
[email protected]

Christopher Bratton
Professor of Practice, School Common, ARTS
[email protected]

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