CircleVET - Exploring the Educational Potential of Circular Economy

What we would like to do here is get businesses to come to the school and talk about how they manufacture products. Then get them to hand their products over to pupils to be redesigned in a circular economy sense.?
Steve Parkinson

The European Commission adopted an ambitious Circular Economy Package, that will help stimulate Europe’s transition towards a circular economy, foster sustainable economic growth and generate new jobs. The Package consists of an EU Action Plan for the Circular Economy that establishes an programme of action, aimed to “closing the loop” of products through recycling and re-use.

The overall aim of CircleVET is to evaluate and exchange smart practice methods on circular economy skills in VET. We want to create a comprehensive compendium of hands-on methods on European level. The first phase will be a desktop-research on identifying smart practices in teaching and applying circular economy principles based on critical design thinking and co-design.

Parallel a need assessment will be launched in order to understand the demands of the education provider in the three chosen case study sectors (Fashion, co-working, recycling) and the learners in the partnership countries. The results will be presented at Transnational Meetings and will result in an assessment system for smart practices, suited for the self-assessment of educators and a synthesis report.

The collected practices, methods and experiences are tested and reviewed in three thematics training labs:
1. Testing circular methods in Fashion
2. Testing circular methods in Recycling
3. Testing circular methods for co-working and innovation hubs

To achieve this main goal the implementation phase of the project will lead to 4 main results:
Result 1: Elaboration of at least 70 smart practice methods of teaching and training circular skills in Europe
Result 2: The development of an assessment tool/ criteria catalogue
Result 3: policy recommendation.
Result 4: A project eBook.

The smart practice assessment is based on the Eightfold Path analysis developed by Bardach:
1. the partnership develop a realistic expectation by getting to know the field.
2. We analyze practices and compare them with a criteria Catalogue.
3. We test the practice.
4. We create a SWOT analysis and reflect on the transferability.
5. We document and review the practices with recommendations on where and how to use them.

Methodology of the Training labs
The design of the training labs will be based on Kolb’s experiential learning theory, represented by a four stage cycle:
– Concrete Experience – Reflective Observation of the new experience
– Abstract Reflection,
– Active Experimentation

Co-creation labs typically involve hands-on activities in which a varied group of peers expresses experiences and explorer potential solutions. An embedded process is co-discovery, involving the participants to explore a topic in a collaborative setting. Co-creation labs also facilitate and enable speculation. This is a way to use the current desires, struggles and experiences of the participants as a jumping-off point to look into the future.

Collaborating in this way provokes discussion and creates valuable insights into all aspects of a topic being investigated and (re)designed. Participants become deeply involved and especially in a peer-learning setting, create tailored solutions for their everyday world.

We expect all participants of the project to be more conscious about the necessary circular economy skills in their work. We expect them to be ready to share their new knowledge, to teach and encourage others to understand the ongoing transition towards circular economy and its potential. We expect that the facilitators will gain new tools to train and teach social innovation in VET. The method handbook will provide easy hands-on tools, providing innovative methods, which will motivate the learners to stay involved. The learners learn new skills, strengthen their awareness on new transformational processes in economy and make them aware of their potentials as entrepreneurs.

On the local level the project will result in an increase of awareness on circular economy and the potential of local loops, especially in our three case study sectors fashion, coworking and recycling. We expect to influence with the recommendations and smart practices European discourses on teaching and learning skills needed for the circular economy future. The practice evaluations and the training modules are aimed to gain impact on scientific research, but as well curricula design in school, adult, youth and vocational education providers.

The continuing development of a European network of circular co-creation hubs will enable a wide sharing of the training modules and will enable users? skills which will ensure that this circula economy continues to go forward with strength, recognition and provide a pathway to further education, mobilisation and greater social innovation.