The Circular Classroom raises a generation of circular economy natives

News 2019-06-18 at 12:44
Leyla Acaroglu
Circular economy expert Leyla Acaroglu © Walki Group Oy

The Circular Classroom programme encourages teachers and students to participate in circular economy and plan a positive change. The programme allows everyone to get to know change-makers around them and to take action in their everyday lives and communities. The engaging teaching materials can teach more about systems thinking, sustainable development, solving problems, and the ways in which they can be applied in transferring from a linear to circular economy.

The idea was born from the lack of circular economy teaching materials

The Circular Classroom website is part of the corporate responsibility programme and tangible international climate work procedures of Walki Group, which manufactures technical laminates and protective packaging materials. The lack of consistent high-quality teaching materials prompted Walki to formulate a project to increase understanding of circular economy among young adults. A pedagogic perspective was selected for the action, and currently an entire generation of circular economy natives is growing up within Finnish upper secondary schools.

According to CEO Leif Frilund, Walki wants to participate in ensuring that every young person is familiar with the basic concepts of circular economy and understands the social significance of the phenomenon.

‘We believe that circular economy can help solve major challenges of today and the future. The better young people understand circular economy when they enter the working life, the better possibilities they have to participate in developing solutions which are sustainable from a global perspective’, Frilund says.

Practical tools for teachers in circular economy

The Circular Classroom provides three modules for getting to know concepts which help in the transfer from linear to circular economy. These modules are Sustainable development, Systems, and Design and creativity. The videos and downloadable exercise books are designed for learning in class, while the teacher’s support module offers additional materials for covering the topic of circular economy. The multimedia contents enable idea sharing between schools. The site and materials are available in Finnish, Swedish, and English.

Making engaging methods part of learning

The programme was created by UN-awarded Doctor in Sociology and circular economy expert Leyla Acaroglu, who tours the world teaching about systems thinking and creative problem-solving to promote circular economy. She has produced the Circular Classroom teaching materials in cooperation with Finnish teachers and upper secondary school students. The aim was to produce contents, which, according to the new curriculum, support phenomenon-based learning and interdisciplinary operations.

Acaroglu, born in Australia, is known for her engaging methods. Her teaching is based on systems thinking, which is a view that everything we do affects everything else. The Circular Classroom programme is all about doing and learning together. It encourages all teachers and students to come up with entirely new ideas and operating methods together.

The award-winning programme draws interest outside of Finland

According to CEO Ia Adlercreutz from Co-founders Oy, responsible for the conceptualisation and management of the programme, Walki is happy with the reception of the programme among the Finnish National Board of Education and teachers.

‘Teachers who have begun using the Circular Classroom materials have been excited about them. We have been contacted to launch cooperation with several other countries, including the US, Norway, Sweden, Spain, and Israel’, Adlercreutz says.

In 2019, the Circular Classroom was granted an honourable mention in a competition by the American Fast Company magazine on its merits in teaching sustainable development. The World Changing Ideas Awards recognises companies, projects, and concepts which meet the challenges of society through innovations.

Development continues

The online platform is intended to be permanent, and it will be developed in close cooperation with teaching professionals in future years. The aim is to make the Circular Classroom as widely used by teachers and students in Swedish- and English-speaking countries as possible. This summer, two Circular Classroom workshops will be organised for teachers as part of the World Summit of Students for Climate in Helsinki.

‘The most significant current investment in the programme are the two Circular Classroom Ambassadors, Nadia Korkman and Lili Cormier Simola, who will develop new Circular Classroom contents from a young perspective for four months, starting in June’, Adlercreutz adds.

More information

CEO Ia Adlercreutz, Co-founders Oy, ia@co-founders.com

The Circular Classroom program