It has yet to officially open its doors, but the Väre building has already played host to a gathering of thought leaders and influencers from key organisations in Finland as well as abroad. The Aalto Vision Forum, held for the very first time on 7 June, is set to be the yearly venue for dialogue on Aalto’s approach to research and higher education.
What does a 21st century world-class university look like?
The evening featured a diverse line-up of discussants, who — in line with Aalto’s mission to shape the future — emphasized the need to continue pushing boundaries.
Prof. Chong Tow Chong, President of the Singapore University of Technology and Design, talked in his keynote about looking beyond book smarts, finding a balance between traditional knowledge with skills and attitudes. The university, which has quickly become one of the emerging leaders in new generation multidisciplinary engineering education in the world, looks to nurture tech-grounded innovators that serve societal needs.
Prof. Jamer Hunt, Vice Provost for Transdisciplinary Initiatives at The New School, a pioneering university based in New York City combining a world-renowned design school with premier undergraduate and graduate programs and colleges, reflected on how universities can address the unknown unknowns — in other words, the knowledge we don’t know that we don’t know. In his view, the challenge for higher education institutions is that the faster humans learn and the better the world is connected, the larger problems grow and the harder it is to solve them.
‘We’re going to have to radically rethink the ways in which we operate if we’re going to understand what we don’t know,’ said Hunt of tackling today’s challenges.
Need for university expertise will only increase
Event panelists agreed that universities will play a pivotal role in laying out the future. For example, with industry seeing disruptions, the role of research will become even more important in times to come, said Timo Ritakallio, President of OP Financial Group.
What will make this leading role possible is continuous dialogue with stakeholders and partnerships with global leaders. As Aalto President Ilkka Niemelä shared, it is only by working together that Aalto can create something new.