Circular Economy Business and Enterprise
This interdisciplinary module will enable you to explore business and enterprise opportunities within the general notion of a “circular economy”. The latter is discussed through the central theme of systems thinking. The module is intended to help you gain insights into the different facets of systems thinking, including the circular-digital nexus, circular business models, and their socio-economic and environmental implications . These insights are generated through discussions on, for example, a linear, take-make-waste economic model, and business, community and policy involvements in circular initiatives. Overall, this module will help you appreciate and understand circular economy as an important framework to develop business and enterprise solutions to address global sustainability challenges such as waste and pollution.
Full module specification
|Module title:||Circular Economy Business and Enterprise|
|Duration of module:||
Duration (weeks) - term 1: |
0Duration (weeks) - term 2:
11Duration (weeks) - term 3:
The module aims to set current circular economy business and enterprise opportunities in three main contexts and illustrate two main approaches.
Context 1: The intellectual context is a shift from largely mechanistic and atomistic worldview to systemic and networked in line with contemporary science of systems.
Context 2: The economic and business context is changing emphasis from production throughput to asset management and adding value in an extended era of low growth, stagnant wages and materials and resources constraints.
Context 3: A circular economy is then introduced as an approach to the question “how do we produce?” It is cognisant of the foregoing contexts and the changing balance of opportunities and barriers to change which result. The two main approaches illustrated relate to different aspects of the economy as a flow network:
- The first is the shift from selling goods to selling services or the access to assets over ownership of them. It includes related efforts which emphasise efficiency and scale.
- The second is to the idea of enterprise networks, cascading materials and energy and adding value through economies of scope or diversity, emphasising that vital aspect as part of all effective systems.
ILO: Module-specific skills
- 1. Describe and synthesise the key concepts, principles, characteristics and strategies of a circular economy
- 2. Explain and critically explore the central theme of systems thinking in the context of circular economy
ILO: Discipline-specific skills
- 3. Critically identify the environmental, social and economic interrelationships between systems thinking and circularity as they apply to business and enterprise
- 4. Apply interdisciplinary knowledge essential for advancing circular business and enterprise solutions in real-world contexts
ILO: Personal and key skills
- 5. Conduct research, derive insights and offer actionable recommendations
- 6. Present findings and arguments in a clear, coherent, comprehensive and compelling way
Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)
|Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities||Guided independent study||Placement / study abroad|
Details of learning activities and teaching methods
|Category||Hours of study time||Description|
|Scheduled learning and teaching activity||10||Lectures (10 X1 hour)|
|Scheduled learning and teaching activity||12||A series of seminars to support the core lectures (10 X 1 hour) Assessment clinics to build step-by-step towards the assignments (2 X 1 hour)|
|Guided independent study||128||Reading, research and preparation for lectures, seminars and assignments|
|Form of assessment||Size of the assessment (eg length / duration)||ILOs assessed||Feedback method|
|In-class interactive exercises||1-3 exercises per class||1-6||Verbal|
|In-class presentations||10 minutes per class||1-6||Verbal|
Summative assessment (% of credit)
|Coursework||Written exams||Practical exams|
Details of summative assessment
|Form of assessment||% of credit||Size of the assessment (eg length / duration)||ILOs assessed||Feedback method|
|Individual circular economy essay||30||2000 words||1-6||Written|
|Individual business & enterprise report||70||3000 words||1-6||Written|
Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)
|Original form of assessment||Form of re-assessment||ILOs re-assessed||Timescale for re-assessment|
|Individual circular economy essay||Individual circular economy essay (30%)||1-6||Referral/Deferral period|
|Individual business and enterprise report||Individual business and enterprise report (70%)||1-6||Referral/Deferral period|
Part 1 Understanding how digital revealed the workings of non-linear systems and the acceptance that most real-world systems are nonlinear and complex and exist in a dynamic equilibrium. Basic commonalities in non-linear systems as a guide to changed perspectives.
Part 2 Products, components and materials and the need to shift from linear to a perspective based on systems and circularity. The circular economy includes monetary stocks, flows and feedback. What sort of economic system conditions might bring the insights about living systems, materials products and component flows into line? Where shall we draw the boundaries? And look for solutions? Products to services, extended product life and strategies such as reduce, reuse and recycle, often enabled by digital and suited to scope. Part 3 Adding value with what we have. Enterprise networks and economies of scope, not scale. technological convergence and its role, data and digital fabrication, maker labs, temporary materials stores, fab cities and circular cities, circulating income locally and regionally. Case study based. Part 4 Biosphere, products of consumption. Is the bio economy the same as the circular economy? Issues of scale, scope and regeneration (e.g., soil health and microbes).
Indicative learning resources - Basic reading
Bartekova, E. & Borkey, P. 2022. Digitalisation for the transition to a resource efficient and circular economy. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
Corvellec, H., Stowell, A. F., & Johansson, N. 2022. Critiques of the circular economy. Journal of Industrial Ecology, 26(2), 421-432.
Ekins, P., Domenech, T., Drummond, P., Bleischwitz, R., Hughes, N., & Lotti, L. 2019. The Circular Economy: What, Why, How and Where. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
Geissdoerfer, M., Pieroni, M., Pigosso, D., & Soufani, K. 2020. Circular business models: A review. Journal of Cleaner Production. 277, 123741.
Ghisellini, P., Cialani, C., & Ulgiati, S. 2016. A review on circular economy: the expected transition to a balanced interplay of environmental and economic systems. Journal of Cleaner Production. 114, 11-32.
Meadows, D. H. 2008. Thinking in Systems: A Primer. London: Earthscan.
Muscat, A., M. de Olde, E., Ripoll-Bosch, R., H. E. Van Zanten, H., A. P. Metze, T., J. A. M. Termeer, C., K. van Ittersum, M., & J. M. de Boer, I. 2021. Principles, drivers and opportunities of a circular bioeconomy. Nature Food. 561-566.
Robinson, S. 2021. A systems thinking perspective for the circular economy. In: Stefanakis, A. & Nikolaou, I. (eds.) Circular Economy and Sustainability Volume 1: Management and Policy. Amsterdam: Elsevier.
Module has an active ELE page?
Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources
ELE – Library Services to provide hyperlink to appropriate pages
Indicative learning resources - Other resources
Last revision date