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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.

Competences for a Circular Economy

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

ThreeC Project

The ThreeC project has identified 10 competences that are important in a circular economy. This European project has the goal to develop a framework for education where circular economics is the fundamental idea. The competences are divided into three dimensions: the cognitive dimension, which details how we should change our thought processes; the affective dimension, or the attitude we have towards our work; and the active dimension, which handles our approach to our work. More information about the ThreeC project and the results of their ongoing research are available on their website and the documents they publish on this page.

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).