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Summer School alum story: Embracing sustainability and diverse perspectives in the Circular Economy course

Dominika Kwasková explains how the Circular Economy summer course helped her grasp a broader picture of the business world through a lens of sustainability. Working in a multicultural group taught her about staying open to new ideas and building innovative solutions from diverse perspectives.
Dominika ja hänen ryhmänsä pitämässä esitelmää kurssin viimeisenä päivänä
Dominika (right) and her group presenting their solutions during the last day of the course. Photo: Laura Lumijärvi / Aalto University

Dominika Kwasková is a marketing and arts management student from the Czech Republic. She works as a junior data analyst to gain valuable work experience alongside her studies. In 2023, Dominika decided to gain another level of experience by attending the Circular Economy summer course at Aalto University. 

Originally, Dominika was drawn to business and data-related courses when considering the summer school. However, the course selection at Aalto University positively surprised her; she found intriguing topics she hadn’t previously considered at all. “In the end, I chose Circular Economy because whatever field I end up working in, environmental issues will need to be taken into account,” she explains. 

The summer course equipped students with the core concepts of circular economy, helping them gain a new perspective on how to do business in a more sustainable way. Throughout the course, students were encouraged to engage in conversations about several topics of the course. Dominika was surprised by the level of honesty and directness she noticed in these discussions. “It was refreshing to see that it is possible to talk about great solutions and great challenges without one distracting from the other,” she describes. 

Another dimension of the summer school was working in a multicultural environment. When asked about the challenges she faced during the course, Dominika explained that discussing complex topics with numerous different perspectives was sometimes difficult. The richness of cultural backgrounds provided a learning opportunity for students to be open to new points of view and to discuss complicated issues constructively.  

In addition to the challenges a multicultural group posed, Dominika underlines that it was also an asset. “It was sometimes difficult to find common ground on which to start building, but then our very different life experiences helped us to come up with more creative and innovative ideas,” she observes. In addition to the academic and business insights Dominika gained from the other students, she also enjoyed hearing about the various countries they represented.

It was refreshing to see that it is possible to talk about great solutions and great challenges without one distracting from the other.

Dominika Kwasková

One of the aims of the course was to inspire students in how the principles of Circular Economy can be brought to life in the business world. This was highlighted in the course’s field visits, which Dominika names as her favorite part of summer school. She highlights the visit to the Aalto University research lab: “It is one thing to read and learn about different innovations, but seeing them in real life and being able to talk to the people behind them is a completely different experience.”

Reflecting on her takeaways from the course, Dominika explains how the health of the economy, environment, and society are all intertwined. She states that the broader perspective she gained through the course will be useful to her in future challenges, such as creating new solutions and thinking about their impacts.

One of the reasons Dominika chose Aalto University was the central location of the campus. She says that the opportunity to explore Helsinki for two weeks made her choice to apply clear. Reflecting back, she felt that spending the days in lectures and afternoons trying to experience all that Helsinki has to offer, often came at the expense of resting properly. However, she managed to find her daily rhythm and got to see more than she expected. 

Photo of the sunset taken by Dominika
Photo of the sunset after Dominika's first day at the Summer School. Photo: Dominika Kwasková

Lastly, Dominika shares her fondest memory from her time at Aalto University. Her narrative captures one of the simple joys of the summer school experience – exploring a new country while forging new connections with individuals from diverse corners of the world:

The whole two weeks were full of great memories, so it's hard to pick just one. I remember the afternoon after our first lessons. After getting to know a few of my classmates, we decided to enjoy the beautiful weather and went to one of Helsinki's many beaches. It was so relaxing to sit by the sea, chatting and watching the sun slowly begin to set.“

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