Summer school teacher interview: Discover sustainable solutions for a better future with the Circular Economy summer course

Aalto University Summer School is offering a cutting-edge course on Circular Economy, which teaches students to think critically about resource use and sustainability. Instructors Martta Nieminen and Karelia Dagnaud share their perspectives on the course's key aspects, learning outcomes, and unique opportunities.

Aalto University Summer School is excited to introduce a ground-breaking course this summer called Circular Economy, designed to help students develop a deep understanding of resource use and sustainability. The course instructors, Martta Nieminen and Karelia Dagnaud, shared valuable insights about the course content, learning outcomes, and unique features that make it a must-take for anyone interested in sustainable living and circular thinking.

Discover more about the Circular Economy course and how it can equip students with the tools to address resource use problems and opportunities in a more sustainable way.

Martta Nieminen
Martta Nieminen, Circular Economy course teacher

What is the Circular Economy course all about, and why do you think it is an important course for students to take?

Martta: We will start from the beginning – what is wrong with the current linear economic system? Linear economy, or take-make-waste economy, extracts, manufactures, uses and discards materials, which has caused unsustainable use of materials and energy. During the course, we will understand why moving towards circularity is important and how circular solutions can make a living on this planet more sustainable. 

Karelia Dagnaud
Karelia Dagnaud, Circular Economy course teacher

Karelia: This course is about getting familiar with circular economy thinking. It's about learning core concepts, principles and questions to think through resource use problems and opportunities from a circular lens and evaluate circular solutions from different angles. The course is important because it invites a different way of thinking about how humans produce and use materials to make things we need – from food to textiles, energy, housing, and transportation. At the same time, the circular economy invites rethinking our relationships with other humans, living beings and the earth. Circular economy thinking offers a 'toolkit' to question and reimagine how we produce, consume, and interact with the natural world. This toolkit is useful personally and across professional contexts to try to think outside the box – in circles and cycles!

What makes this course stand out?

Karelia: One of the most exciting aspects of the course is the multidisciplinary approach. We want to explore circular economy thinking from various perspectives to build a holistic and nuanced understanding of what it can mean at different scales of activity. While we will practice circular economy thinking in relation to business models, we hope also to encourage a broader take on ‘circular solutions’ as encompassing design, technical, technological, organizational, cultural, and social interpretations and applications. This course stands out for encouraging circular thinking across scales and contexts of application. Being based in the multidisciplinary Aalto University ecosystem is an asset. 

What are some of the key skills and knowledge that you hope students will gain from participating?

Martta: Students will not only gain knowledge of the key managerial principles of circular economy but they are encouraged to think for themselves, which contributes to critical thinking skills. In addition, since much of the work will be done in groups, we will provide a fertile ground for working and thinking together, an essential skill in multidisciplinary work.

What kind of activities can students expect to be involved in during the course?

Karelia: To get inspired and reflect on various real-world circular economy applications, we will visit companies and stakeholders doing circular economy work, explore circularity in the context of specific industry sectors, and concrete examples of turning core concepts and principles of the circular economy into solutions.

colourful artwork made of textiles

Is there anything else you would like to share with potential students about the Circular Economy course?

Karelia: Building circular economy thinking skills is a journey that benefits from sharing ideas, questions, perspectives, and learning from one another and doing together. I look forward to exploring circular solutions together!

Martta: Though recycling is crucial, the circular economy is so much more than that. Understanding how circular futures can be built demands our collective effort. Hence, I am excited to share this learning experience with the students! Come as you are.

In conclusion, Aalto University Summer School's Circular Economy course is an exceptional opportunity for students to develop a comprehensive understanding of resource use and sustainability through a multidisciplinary approach. Students will be well-equipped to tackle real-world sustainability challenges by engaging in interactive company visits, exploring industry-specific circular solutions, and developing critical thinking and collaboration skills.

If you're passionate about sustainable living and circular thinking, don't miss the chance to enrol in the Circular Economy course at Aalto University Summer School. Join us on this enlightening journey to reimagine our relationships with resources, other humans, and the environment and contribute to building a more sustainable future for all. Come with an open mind and a willingness to learn, and together we will explore the world of circular solutions.

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Circular Economy

Sustainable development requires a fundamental shift in how resources are used, and the transition will have fundamental implications. The students will learn how circular business models are designed and how they provide value to the customer.

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Aalto University Summer School

Aalto University Summer School offers high quality academic summer courses and programs at Aalto University.

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