Industry-Informed Workshops to Develop Graduate Skill Sets in the Circular Economy Using Systems Thinking

Louise Summerton*, James H. Clark, Glenn A. Hurst, Peter D. Ball, Elizabeth L. Rylott, Nicola Carslaw, Julia Creasey, Jane Murray, Jeffrey Whitford, Brian Dobson, Helen F. Sneddon, Joe Ross, Pete Metcalf, C. Robert McElroy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Increasing demand for chemicals worldwide, depleting resources, consumer pressure, stricter legislation, and the rising cost of waste disposal are placing increasing pressure on chemical and related industries. For any organization to survive in the current arena of growing climate change laws and regulations, and increasing public influence, the issue of sustainability must be fundamental to the way it operates. A sustainable manufacturing approach will enable economic growth to be combined with environmental and social sustainability and will be realized via collaboration between a multidisciplinary community including chemists, biologists, engineers, environmental scientists, economists, experts in management, and policy makers. Hence, employees with new skills, knowledge, and experience are essential. To realize this approach, the design and development of a series of workshops encompassing systems thinking are presented here. After close consultation with industry, an annual program of interactive workshops has been designed for graduate students to go beyond examining the "greening" of chemical reactions, processes, and products, and instead embed a systems thinking approach to learning. The workshops provide a valuable insight into the issues surrounding sustainable manufacturing covering change management, commercialization, environmental impact, circular economy, legislation, and bioresources incorporating the conversion of waste into valuable products. The multidisciplinary course content incorporates industrial case studies, providing access to real business issues, and is delivered by experts from academic departments across campus and industry.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to) 2959-2967
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2019

Bibliographical note

© 2019 American Chemical Society and Division of Chemical Education, Inc.


  • Applications of Chemistry
  • Graduate Education/Research
  • Green Chemistry, Collaborative/Cooperative Learning
  • Industrial Chemistry
  • Inquiry-Based/Discovery Learning
  • Interdisciplinary/Multidisciplinary
  • Sustainability
  • Systems Thinking

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