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Circular Economy: An Interdisciplinary Approach

Join the transition towards a circular economy considering economic, supply chain, social, technical, managerial and environmental aspects.

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Starts Dec 3
Starts Dec 7
Estimated 6 weeks
16–24 hours per week
Self-paced
Progress at your own speed
Free
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About this course

Skip About this course

Do you want to contribute to a more sustainable society? Tackle the challenges in the transition towards a circular economy? In this course you will analyse what it takes to create a circular economy including sustainable supply chains.

The transition towards a circular economy is one of the biggest challenges in order to create a more sustainable society. This transition requires circular thinking and an interdisciplinary approach, combining socio-technical, managerial, and environmental considerations.

Right now we design products from cradle to grave: from production to consumption to waste, which is a linear model. But we should design products from cradle to cradle: in a closed loop whereby they don't become waste, but valuable resources again. And when we start thinking in circles, we might as well try to reinvent not just supply chains, but entire systems. Because that's what we have been doing with sustainability: we have been departing from the status quo, while cradle to cradle and circular pushes us to think outside the box.

Cradle to Cradle celebrates abundance; it recognizes that people, just like ants and trees, are abundant and have a large impact on their environment. The challenge is to make this impact a positive one and we invite you to join this challenge!

In the MOOC Circular Economy: An Interdisciplinary Approach, we therefore take a systems approach to the circular economy, considering different stakeholder perspectives, their incentive structures, and their impact on circular alternatives.

The circular solutions will be assessed by using applied, as well as emerging, technologies. You will learn how to use life cycle assessment and agent-based modelling to assess the socio-technical and manageable challenges and environmental benefits of alternative solutions.

Join the MicroMasters Program

This MOOC is part of two MicroMasters Programs, Economics and Policies for a Circular Bio-Economy and Business and Operations for a Circular Bio-Economy.

Both programmes prepare you for the transition from fossil to renewable, biobased resources and consist of 3 courses and a final project; the capstone:

At a glance

  • Institution: WageningenX
  • Subject: Environmental Studies
  • Level: Advanced
  • Prerequisites:

    To optimally learn in/from and complete the complete MicroMasters Program we expect you to have a bachelor degree in social sciences (preferably business-, or economics). However, there is no formal entry level requirement for this MOOC.

What you'll learn

Skip What you'll learn
  • Understand the concept of a circular economy
  • Understand how a circular economy deviates from the current linear system
  • Analyse and develop complex circular systems using a systems thinking approach
  • Assess the use of Life Cycle Assessment and Agent Based Modelling
  • Formulate improvements for a transition towards a circular design
  • Learn how to use and apply complexity aspects & agent-based modelling

Module 1: Introduction to the Circular Economy

In this module, we will investigate how the circular economy is defined, how it deviates from the current so-called "linear" system and how it relates to other sustainable schools of thought. At the end of this module, we hope you will have learned the main principles of the circular economy and the reasons to invest in a transition towards a circular economy.

Module 2: Circular Systems Engineering

In this module, we will introduce you to the concept of systems thinking. A systematic approach to problems and situations is necessary when dealing with complex systems. In addition to implementing this way of thinking, engineering solutions are also needed when closing cycles. At the end of this module, you will know how to apply systems thinking when analysing and transitioning to circularity, and have learned some interesting examples of engineering solutions.

Module 3: Transition Management

In this module, we will discuss how circular changes come about within companies and society. What is needed for businesses to successfully transition towards circularity? What are some useful skills you can develop yourself to help transform industries and your own environment?

Module 4: Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)

In this module, you will learn about the strengths and weaknesses of LCA, and how it can be used to quantify the environmental impact of circular products. After completion of this module, you’ll understand the principles of LCA and know what questions LCA can answer.

Module 5: Agent Based Modelling (ABM)

Agent Based Modelling is a tool that can be very useful when researching circular economy situations. In this module, you will learn what ABM is, how it works and when it can be applied. You don’t have to learn how to program code yourself – but if you want to, you can.

Module 6: Case

The last module contains a case study, in which you will apply everything you have learnt so far.

About the instructors

Frequently Asked Questions

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Do you have questions about the MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) and/or related online programmes of Wageningen University & Research? To help you find answers to your questions, we created a list with frequently asked questions about enrolling, participating in- and finishing a MOOC.

Who can take this course?

Unfortunately, learners residing in one or more of the following countries or regions will not be able to register for this course: Iran, Cuba and the Crimea region of Ukraine. While edX has sought licenses from the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to offer our courses to learners in these countries and regions, the licenses we have received are not broad enough to allow us to offer this course in all locations. edX truly regrets that U.S. sanctions prevent us from offering all of our courses to everyone, no matter where they live.

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