University of Helsinki (HU) is ranked within the top one percent of the world’s research universities. In the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2020, it is among the top 100 institutions. But not only this is significant for many students, including foreign ones, who opt for HU. The University is actively involved in solving global problems; their interdisciplinary research, teaching and learning at a high level generate new knowledge and know-how for the benefit of humanity.
For students, this means:
• fusing different areas of research into a curriculum that equips students with the skills they need to face the challenges of the next decade,
• the opportunity to obtain various interdisciplinary master's degrees, reflecting the spirit of the times of the 21st century.
One example of an interdisciplinary master's program is the Master's program in Human Nutrition and Food-related Behavior (HNFB), which studies food and psychology. The HNFB program has a course called Health Promotion Project Work, which will be very relevant in a world where problems related to population growth, food and climate crises, etc. are growing. In this course, students participate in a real project which aims to develop a health promotion plan for the community.
Riitta Frize, a university professor of human nutrition who teaches for the program, said: "We partnered with a small town in Finland where students were planning a program to tackle childhood obesity." Such courses prepare students for “many opportunities” in the future, Riitta said.
“The strength of HNFB alumni lies in their skills in nutrition, culture and food choice. They also know how all of these topics relate to individual and social factors. This is useful for people who are interested in working, for example in public health organizations or food companies, ”she said. "There are also opportunities to work in an international setting - you can do research for some of the UN's specialized agencies."
Interdisciplinary postgraduate studies
Another interdisciplinary master's program at the university is the Master's in Urban Studies and Planning (USP) Master's program in Urban Studies and Planning.
Urbanization is a global phenomenon. Rapid urbanization brings with it many opportunities and challenges, as well as immense demands on infrastructure, services, job creation, climate and the environment, according to auditing firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.
The magnitude of these challenges imply that no one area of research or profession can tackle them alone: urban development requires the integrated approach adopted in the Helsinki Master's Program in Urban Research and Planning (USP).
Specialization courses in this program cover topics such as Urban Geography, Urban Sociology, Urban Ecology, Urban Economics, Urban Ethnology and History, Environmental Policy, Urban Planning, Urban Design, Landscape Architecture, Real Estate Economics, Services, and Strategic Design.
Students will take part in Shared Urban Challenges Studios, which combine multiple areas of study to explore and consider contemporary urban phenomena from different perspectives.
Another area of excellence in interdisciplinary research at UH is in materials that are among the richest and most multidisciplinary areas of natural sciences.
The MA in Materials Science program in Helsinki is based on physics, chemistry, biology and health sciences, mathematics and computer science - very large-scale, but all taught in a cohesive and autonomous manner. Students will study biomaterials, nanomaterials, smart materials, polymers, composites, electronics, energy production and storage, and green and environmentally friendly materials.
Without a doubt, studying at a university means being part of a unique ecosystem that strives for a better, more interconnected world. Interdisciplinary degrees will provide graduates with the tools to tackle the world's greatest challenges.