In October 2018, Aalto students practiced facilitation of creative cooperation in the Suomenlinna World Heritage Site. The Participatory Methods and Facilitation Skills course aimed to familiarise students with participatory methods, processes, theories and communication, creative cooperation and facilitation skills. The practically focused four day intensive course involved serval opportunities to prepare and facilitate workshops and processes as a part of a multidisciplinary facilitation team. Interactive exercises and workshops engaged the students to learn through experience, creativity, cooperation and communication. Students learnt about the participation process as a complex system driven by hidden forces such us as emotions and beliefs as well as the way and timing of interaction.
During the collaborative learning process students practiced skills and applied tools to boost and facilitate creative cooperation. The course offers a safe and welcome environment to practice skills which helps to build the abilities and confidence of the students. According to Joel Wolff, a second year Creative Sustainability Masters candidate:
“No other course during my studies in design has provided me with as much professional confidence”.
During the first two days students practiced verbal and nonverbal communication, facilitation and dispute resolution through interactive exercises. They applied a multitude of tools to facilitate understanding of the situation and stakeholders’ interrelationships, and co-creation of a shared dream and ideas for achieving it. They tried different materials and techniques from modeling clay to dramatic performances.
For the last few years the course has taken place on Suomenlinna World Heritage Site. The beautiful 18th-century sea fortress provide both inspiration and context for the course. The students worked with semi-real-life challenges provided by the Governing Body of Suomenlinna. The challenges covered a range of topics from internal and external communications to diverse stakeholder relationships.
On the penultimate day the students organized and facilitated mini-workshops/rehearsals. During these workshops each facilitation team involved other students to learn more about the driving forces of creative cooperation such as forgiveness, fairness, empathy and reciprocity, and communication such as listening, respecting and suspending. After each workshop the team in charge conducted a discussion where they received feedback from Paula and their peers which helped them hone their ideas and techniques. After each day the students were encouraged to used different means to individually reflect and discuss the collaborative learning experience.
On the final day, the students were joined by representatives from The Governing Body of Suomenlinna and conducted workshops on new perspectives such as power dynamics, emotions and facial expressions combined with the Suomenlinna challenges given to them. This was a fantastic opportunity for the students to practice their new skills in a real-life setting and to get feedback from their stakeholders, peers and Paula. Throughout the course there was a supportive and energised atmosphere which was reflected in the diverse, creative and engaging workshops and learning diaries produced by the students.
You can find out more about Paula’s work with creative cooperation here