Transdisciplinary Initiatives

Coffee Chats | Research | Seminars | Emerging Initiatives: Color of Science & Feminist Futures Helsinki

:: Coffee Chats

Our virtual coffee chats are held on Zoom, and they are partly how the collective emerged and has been sustained. Over the course of a coffee break, we get together to informally discuss different topics, work together or just enjoy a nice warm drink and relax. We facilitate a safe space for discussion and for people to get to know each other, exchange their interests and ideas, and to grow the collective through joint action.

Each event brings together people with different perspectives and practices; we document all coffee chats and build on these conversations in our ongoing initiatives. The coffee chats are usually one hour, held bi-weekly, hosted by Natalia Villaman and Floris van der Marel. If you’d like to participate, organize a session or simply join as a guest for one of them, let us know!


:: Research

Reconstructing Crisis Narratives for Trustworthy Communication and Cooperative Agency, 2020 – 2023

The emergence of a crisis is often accompanied by unexpected events, uncertain signals, malicious misinformation, and conflicting reports that must be collectively interpreted and analyzed to understand the complex nature and scope of the situation, and its potential implications for society. This research jointly conducted between Aalto University and the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) proposes to analyze and reconstruct crisis narratives through a mixed methods approach using qualitative research and social media analytics.

We will design tools and platforms representing and visualizing such information to engage decision-makers, front-line responders, stakeholders, and the general public in making sense of crises and perceptions of risk and trust. Temporal interactive visualization of crisis narrative threads will be used to support participatory narrative building and multiple hypotheses, facilitate discovery of unusual patterns, and collaborative sense-making for devising cooperative crisis preparedness and response. >> Learn more

Team members include Nitin Sawhney, Jonas SiveläAnna Leena LohinivaTeemu LeinonenTuukka TammiSuvi HyökkiMatti NelimarkkaJohanna KaipioNatalia VillamanHasti NarimanzadehMinttu TikkaHenna PaakkiKaisla Kajava, and Talayeh Aledavood.


:: Seminars

Critical AI and Data Justice in Society, Spring 2021

This course is being offered in spring 2021 at the Department of Computer Science at Aalto University, led by Prof. Nitin Sawhney, Sid Rao, Henriette Friis and Natalia Villaman.

The course critically examines the role of Artificial Intelligence (AI), autonomous systems, and data-centric technologies in society. We will interrogate these concerns using cross-disciplinary theories and practices embedded in the ethics of AI, intersectional feminist perspectives, Global South and indigenous experiences, as well as civic debates and human rights discourses. The goal is to reveal the socio-political implications for protest, surveillance, democratic participation, misinformation, gender and racial equity, civic engagement and social justice. >> Learn more

Human-Centred Research and Design in Crisis, Summer 2020

This course was offered in summer 2020 at the Department of Computer Science at Aalto University, led by Prof. Nitin Sawhney and Magdalena Mihalache.

The course introduced students to understanding and engaging in crisis contexts, using human-centred design principles and participatory research methodologies in conjunction with domain experts, partner organizations and everyday citizens. The course will build on extensive research findings from inter-related disciplines of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW), Participatory Design (PD), Participatory Action Research (PAR), A.I. and Crisis Informatics, among others to develop a range of conceptual, rigorous, creative, and pragmatic approaches towards inquiry and engagement in complex crisis contexts. >> Learn more


:: Emerging Initiatives

Color of Science

Color of Science is an emerging initiative where scientists of color and from indigenous communities talk about their experiences and struggles in science, and examine the role of color theory and its implications in science.

For the spring 2021 term, we begin with thematic dialogues around the “Color of Science”, inviting both prominent international researchers and accomplished local scientists of color and the indigenous to provide critical perspectives on their research and personal struggles. This initiative is co-organized by Talayeh Aledavood, Andrea Botero, Karin Fröhlich, Caterina Soldano and Nitin Sawhney.

The monthly series – initially offered online – consists of lectures, panel discussions, and film screenings to spur provocative and engaging dialogues, while conducting follow-up workshops to engage participants in sharing and exchanging their own concerns, perspectives, and ideas that build on the thematic topics.

Events in the series:

03.25.21: Coded Bias: Unmasking the Abuses of Face Recognition Technologies in Society

22.04.21: Collaboration in and with the Global South

26.05.21: Sámi Perspectives on Indigenous Knowledges, Technology and Governance

We invite all members of the Aalto community and the general public to join our events. While the series invites speakers of color and the indigenous, we expect the themes and concerns to be both timely and of interest to a wide range of participants within and outside Aalto University. All events will be live-streamed and recorded to make them accessible to audiences globally. >> Join the Color of Science Facebook Group to stay involved.


Feminist Futures Helsinki

Feminist Futures Helsinki (FFH) is a hackathon which builds on feminist theories of power, emotion and intersectionality, to imagine alternative futures for the Finnish society. It is a space for creativity and radical ideas, where everyone is welcome.

A HACKATHON FOR SYSTEMIC CHANGE. This past year has made the social and economic divides in society (locally and globally) more evident than ever. This hackathon challenges the notion that complex, societal issues can be fixed by simple technology. Feminism asks us to analyse and challenge institutionalised power, to embrace emotion and to think beyond binary structures –  and that is what we want to do with this hackathon. 

WHERE DID THE IDEA COME FROM? This hackathon was inspired by, and will run in parallel with Our Feminist Futures, organised by the “Make the Breast Pump Not Suck!” collaborative and supported by MIT. Our work is building on the foundation that they have created.

HOW? Feminist Futures Helsinki will be online and run from May 15th to May 31st, 2021. The length of the hackathon is to ensure deep understanding of the issues at hand, and to ensure that we are able to embrace participants with care work and other responsibilities. However, we will still have all the awesome elements of a traditional hackathon such as inspiring talks, engaging workshops, and teamwork. The output of the hackathon can take many forms, and we encourage participants to think beyond the traditional hackathon prototype with short-term impact, and embrace systemic and long-term perspectives on strengthening bonds with the community, challenging narratives and building bridges for future dialogues.

WHERE & WHEN? Due to the geographical focus of the topics, we are looking for 50 participants based in Finland. The hackathon will take place between May 15th to May 31st and applications will be open between April 16th to April 27th. Participants will apply individually through a form that will help our team better understand their motivations to join. Our team will then create multidisciplinary teams to match everyone’s interests, preferences, availability, and needs. 

WHAT WILL THE HACKATHON FOCUS ON? The hackathon will have four tracks/topics for which the participants will imagine alternative futures and receive mentoring from our partner organisations. These tracks are still to be decided, as we want to develop them in detail with our partners, but they will likely focus on topics such as health, community, relationships to nature, technology and representation.


Join the Crisis Interrogatives collective to propose and develop new initiatives for research, teaching and societal impact. >> Contact Us

Coffee Chats | Research | Seminars | Emerging Initiatives