Make. Use. Throw. These three words capture the workings of economies across the world. We take materials to make products, and after use, we throw them away as waste. This linear model creates negative social and environmental externalities, including change, biodiversity loss, and pollution. Instead, the alternative circular economy model reduces waste and pollution by emulating nature (i.e., carrying capacity and symbiosis). Going around in a circle is good, internalizing externalities and making waste a resource.
The circular economy is an interdisciplinary concept that cuts across natural science and social science. In this course, we will analyse the three principles of the circular economy: 1) eliminate waste and pollution, 2) circulate products and materials, and 3) regenerate nature. Students will learn about these concepts and how they can be used to develop a circular economic model which is regenerative rather than exploitative. The sectors analysed in this course include agriculture/food, packaging materials, build environment, textile, and mobility. Case studies and numerous real-life examples will illustrate and support the concepts. This course builds on active discussions and debates, and students will be encouraged to present and share their interpretations of the assigned readings in class.
In this course, students will learn about, and reflect upon:
- Describe the characteristics of the circular economic model (CEM)
- Understand the difference between the linear and circular system
- Apply the principles of the circular economy to identify the circular transformation of products and services in real-life cases
- Identify the enablers and barriers to the adoption of circular strategies
- Describe approaches and policies that support the successful application of circular strategies
- Recognize and understand the application of circular economy principles in different sectors of the economy
- Class participation (10%). Short tests and 1-2 in-class group work activities will be conducted as part of the grade.
- Written assignment (research paper) (50%) on a selected topic by the students.
- Presentation (40%). The students can choose the topic of the presentation, and it can be the same as that of the research paper.