World’s first circular economy Master’s launched by Cranfield

Cranfield University has today (8 March) announced it will be running the world's first Master's degree in the circular economy for the next generation of sustainability and resource efficiency professionals.

The new, part-time executive course-  titled Technology, Innovation and Management for a Circular Economy – will combine on-site lectures with digital webinars to fuse engineering expertise with environmental sciences to develop an educational model that disrupts the traditional ‘take, make, dispose’ business approach.

Cranfield University’s vice-chancellor Peter Gregson said: “Cranfield has been leading thinking in the circular economy through our research on sustainable design and corporate responsibility for some time.

“We are already one of six circular economy ‘Pioneer Universities’ in the world, working with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, and we have hosted successful summer schools and hackathons with businesses exploring the potential of this area. The MSc in Technology, Innovation and Management for a Circular Economy will allow us to contribute substantially to making this an industrial reality.”

The new course will highlight how businesses can adopt a restorative and regenerative economic model that emphasises the importance of keeping materials and products at their highest value. Themes covered will include an exploration into circular economy models, citing real life examples such as Airbnb’s $10bn business model and General Motor’s 90% reduction in material use by remanufacturing used components.

Open to applicants for enrolment in October 2016, the course will also feature teachings from circular economy experts from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, which values the EU circular economy at €1.8trn.

Cranfield University is leading the ‘RECODE’ programme on behalf of the Foundation, which looks at how big data can lead the transition into a circular economy business model, involving an active and engaged community of academics, industrial practitioners, policymakers and end users.

Commenting on this new circular economy Master’s, Dame Ellen MacArthur, founder of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, said: “The circular economy is emerging as the new paradigm for a system that can work in the long term. In order to achieve its full potential, it needs solid skills-building programmes and the involvement of leading international universities.

“The executive Masters course demonstrates Cranfield’s commitment to providing the right multi-disciplinary environment, in order to help accelerate the transition to this restorative and regenerative economic model.”

Business movement

Recent research from the Foundation suggests that coupling the circular economy with the Internet of Things could dramatically boost resource efficiency and lead to ‘broad social benefits’.

In the wake of the European Union’s €6bn circular economy package, a number of high-profile companies including Google, Kingfisher and IKEA have adapted their business models to compensate for circular growth.

And, with more businesses taking note of the growing influence of the circular economy, universities and business schools alike are being presented with a big opportunity to bridge the sustainability skills gap by introducing such courses.

Matt Mace

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