Aalto University is launching a World in Transition Programme for resilience of vulnerable communities

Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture is starting a new post-master diploma programme to bring together academia, organisations and local people globally, to find solutions to the most pressing problems concerning the human settlements.
Humanitarian architects at field work in Nepal, sitting on rugs and discussing with local people
Photo: Kristjana Adalgeirsdóttir / WiTLAB, Aalto University

The rapid changes of our societal and environmental contexts highlight the importance of collaboration of academia and practice-orientated organisations. To address the societal challenges, such as uncontrolled urbanisation, forced migration, humanitarian crises, conflicts, and long-term poverty reduction, the WiT Programme is designed to facilitate consistent and sustainable North-South collaboration between academia and industry alike. 

‘Amidst the large scale of severe changes the world is facing we need to have understanding and capabilities in handling the wicked problems. The new programme aims to bridge capacities to advance resilience of the most vulnerable communities. Especially, it is a strong take on helping people to help themselves’, says Professor of Practice in Humanitarian Architecture Saija Hollmén.

The WiT Program is a new transdisciplinary post-master Diploma Programme under the Aalto University World in Transition Research LAB (WiTLAB). The programme focuses on issues related to the resilience of human settlements. The WiT Programme is informed by high level strategies aimed at addressing global challenges. It connects to the larger framework of the United Nations Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development Goals.

The programme applies new theoretical and practice-based pedagogical methods in resilience and systems thinking. It strives towards decolonised practices with engaged partners, based on mutual knowledge creation and sharing, aiming at societal impact and local development. The studies include problem-based and transformative learning approaches in real-life case studies. 

The case studies are designed in collaboration with partnering organisations and communities globally. The WiT Programme also provides the possibility for work life experience with partnering organisations in the field of development and global sustainability. 

The programme is aimed at professionals and academics in the fields of architecture, landscape architecture, design, engineering, management, economy, sociology and anthropology, passionate about building a better future. 

The application period for the WiT Programme (link to website) starts in August 2023 and the programme will start in January 2024. The programme duration is five months.

Buildings being constructed of red tiles in a very dry landscape in Zanzibar
Photo: Saija Hollmén / WiTLAB, Aalto University

The Aalto WiTLAB (World in Transition Research LAB) is an interdisciplinary research and education unit hosting collaborative initiatives across Aalto University, rooted in sustainable development of the built environment in vulnerable and culturally fragile environments globally. Aalto WiTLAB serves as a platform for researchers and projects focusing on resilient human settlements, humanitarian architecture, community engagement and grass roots action.

For more information:


Professor in Practice Saija Hollmén, School of Arts, Design and Architecture, [email protected], +358405879808

Postdoctoral Researcher Anahita Rashidfarokhi Fathabadi, School of Arts, Design and Architecture, [email protected], +358504616007

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