By Olivia Thomas
June 14, 2019

circular economy: an introduction | university courses


From EdX and Delft University of Technology 

"Our global society is not sustainable. We all know about the challenges we’re facing: waste, climate change, resource scarcity, loss of biodiversity. At the same time, we want to sustain our economies and offer opportunities for a growing world population. This course is about providing solutions we really believe in: a Circular Economy.

In this course we explore the Circular Economy: how businesses can create value by reusing and recycling products, how designers can come up with amazingly clever solutions, and how you can contribute to make the Circular Economy happen.

You will learn to re-think the economic system you’re experiencing every day, and act upon it. Be a leader in this major paradigm shift! Shape a more circular future together with our global network."

The course is led by TU Delft and co-created with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and the Leiden-Delft-Erasmus Centre for Sustainability.

  • Episode 1: What is the circular economy?: How can the circular economy provide solutions to the challenges our current, linear economy brings? We explore the roots of the circular economy together with experts in the fields of industrial ecology, cradle to cradle and biomimicry.
  • Episode 2: Business value in a circular economy: Through closed loop supply chains and reversed logistics, new opportunities for business are created. This episode explores value creation and new business models in a circular economy.
  • Episode 3: Longer lasting products: The smaller the loop, the greater the profitability of the system. We look at product life extension through the eyes of designers and entrepreneurs. Join us in our repair café!
  • Episode 4: Remanufacturing: Remanufacturing enables companies to recapture value on a product or component level. It is currently being rediscovered as a promising business opportunity. We’ll explore the topic together with researchers and entrepreneurs.
  • Episode 5: Waste equals Food: This episode discusses how we can take inspiration from nature, when redesigning the way we deal with waste. We’ll present a fascinating circular case study. Can you identify opportunities for change in your own area’s?
  • Episode 6: Thinking in systems: The shift from linear to circular should not be underestimated. This episode will discuss the extent and duration of the transition. It will also ask, is the circular economy really sustainable?
  • Episode 7: Giving back: We end the course with a webinar. Your teachers will be available in a live session to discuss some of the thorniest issues and to answer your questions. This is also the week of the final exam.

Learn about the course by watching the video below;


  • 7 WEEKS


Ken Webster

Conny Bakker | Professor of Design Methodology for Sustainability and Circular Economy | TU Delft

David Peck | Senior Research Fellow, Circular Built Environment and Critical Materials - Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment | TU Delft

Ester van der Voet | Associate professor | Institute of Environmental Sciences CML | Leiden University

Erwin van der Laan


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