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Cranfield launches world’s first circular economy master's degree

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The part-time MSc course was launched on 8 March. Photograph: hxdbzxy / 123RF
The part-time MSc course was launched on 8 March. Photograph: hxdbzxy / 123RF

Cranfield University has launched the world’s first Master of Science (MSc) course in the circular economy.

The part-time MSc course, called Technology, Innovation and Management for a Circular Economy, was launched on 8 March.

Cranfield University says the course combines its strengths across technology and management and aims to fuse its expertise in engineering, logistics and environmental sciences with world-leading programmes in business and finance. 

A circular economy aims to decouple production from the consumption of finite resources. It emphasises the need to keep products and materials at their highest value and utility, at all times.

The European Commission published a highly-anticipated circular economy package in December. If approved by the European Parliament, a 2030 reuse and recycling target for municipal waste of 65% will be set.

Among a number of other proposals, the package also contains a binding target to reduce landfill of municipal waste to a maximum of 10% of all waste by 2030.

Cranfield says its course will focus on how business can be restorative and regenerative rather than the “take, make, dispose” model traditionally followed. 

Peter Gregson, vice-chancellor of Cranfield University, said it had been leading thinking in the circular economy through its research on sustainable design and corporate responsibility for some time.

It is one of six universities working with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation on the circular economy and has hosted summer schools with businesses exploring the subject.

“The MSc in Technology, Innovation and Management for a Circular Economy will allow us to contribute substantially to making this an industrial reality,” said Gregson.

During the course, students will be able to explore economic models which make the most of existing assets. These have been demonstrated by companies such as Airbnb which has built a $10bn business based on using unused rooms, and General Motors which has reduced material use by 90% by remanufacturing used components.

Fiona Charnley, convenor of the MSc course at Cranfield, said: “The world of business has shifted dramatically. The circular economy is widely regarded as the most dominant trend for environmentally responsible and innovative businesses. This unique postgraduate level course will help ambitious industrial professionals to accelerate this change through system-level understanding and application.”

The programme will be delivered partly at Cranfield’s Bedfordshire campus, as well as remotely online. The first intake will begin their studies in October 2016.

Prospective students can enquire here.