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Circular Economy

What is the role of education?

The (transition to a) circular economy has much to gain from good education; people who are taught to think and act in a circular way. A circular economy will change the labour market. A circular economy will feature a large service industry because of the rise in demand for services surrounding reuse and repair of products. It is also vital for product designers to take circular ideas from practice to reality. In order to apply these principles in practice, education incorporate and teach these principles as well, across specialisations.

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Competences for a Circular Economy

A few groups are working on developing a set of competences that should be central to sustainability education.

Leren voor Morgen

The Leren voor Morgen (Learning for Tomorrow) cooperative is a group of collaborating organisations that are committed to learning for sustainable development. Commissioned by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, Leren voor Morgen has launched a multi-year programme to identify, develop and embed circular skills in vocational education: Circular Skills. The programme focuses first on the construction and installation sector and then on other sectors. More information on Leren voor Morgen can be found on their website.

Cycle project

The Cycle project is a European project that develops tools to introduce the circular economy into the non-vocational education of adults. The Cycle project builds on the work of the ThreeC project, which has identified 10 competences that are important in the circular economy. These competences are divided into three dimensions: the cognitive dimension (which deals with how our thinking should change), the affective dimension (your attitude towards your work), and the active dimension (how you approach your work). In a pedagogical module, the Cycle project has incorporated these dimensions into technical, generic and normative skills, with examples from the consortium. More information can be found on the website of the Cycle project.

Learning for the Future

The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), Strategy for Education for Sustainable Development, published a report entitled ‘Learning for the Future’ which details compentences for educators. These competences should be seen as a “goal to which all educators should aspire” (p. 7). It aims to provide a framework for the professional development of educators. Click here to read the full report.

The competences have been visually represented in the image below:

(right click on the image and select ‘open in new tab’ to enlarge the image)

Source: report Learning for the Future

Sustainable PABO has translated this framework for primary education. 

Implementation of sustainable education

In 2014 the House of Representatives passed a motion which asks the government to assess what the current state of affairs is regarding sustainable education in The Netherlands, and provide a proposal detailing how sustainable education could be facilitated in Dutch education. The Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management (then: Infrastructure and Environment) commissioned Het Groene Brein to research this topic. This has resulted in a report on the state of Dutch sustainable education and a proposal for a support framework, developed in cooperation with parties inside and outside the education sector. You can read this report, entitled ‘Rapportage onderzoek Duurzaam Onderwijs’ here (only in Dutch).