Feminist Futures Helsinki Hackathon: Transdisciplinary co-creation of socially engaged projects

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Insinööritieteiden korkeakoulu | Master's thesis
Creative Sustainability in Real Estate and Water Management
ENG 3079
Degree programme
Master's Programme in Creative Sustainability (CS)
This transdisciplinary thesis exhibits the potentials found in the intersection between (1) feminism(s), (2) real estate, land use and urban planning, (3) participatory design approaches, and (4) hackathons. In addition, the thesis documents the organisation and execution of a feminist hackathon organised in May 2021 in Helsinki, Finland. The study consists of a literature review of the four main topics mentioned above, exploring overlaps and contradictions to understand the potential of the union. In addition, a thorough recount and analysis is made of the Feminist Futures Helsinki hackathon (FFH), refecting on its organisation (before), its unfolding (during) and its impact (after). The study draws from methods from PAR and ethnography such as semi-structured interviews, surveys, ethnographic observations, diagram sketching and case studies. Furthermore, the analysis ofers in-depth insights from four of the 12 projects that resulted from the hackathon. Namely, the cases cover topics of inclusion in participatory planning in Helsinki and Lapinlahti, Sámi allyship and age-inclusive participatory communities. The thesis ofers insights into a refexive journey, where the co-authors explore their own positionality and power within the structures created for the hackathon. Key takeaways from this work in the context of organising feminist hackathons include: (1) it matters who sets the agenda, (2) it matters who participates, (3) it matters who benefts, (4) processes matter as much as outcomes, and (5) accountability matters. The co-authors argue for the potential of feminist hackathons to shift public discourse by bringing attention to topics and issues that are otherwise ignored; to encourage educational institutions like universities to rethink partnerships with community organisations; to challenge tech-solutionism. In addition, by centring intersectional feminist values such as accessibility and pursuit of justice, organisers of feminist hackathons will enable more diverse participation.
Toivonen, Saija
Thesis advisor
Sawhney, Nitin
feminism, hackathons, urban planning, participatory methods, real estate, equity
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