Professional development course

Applying Circular Economy Approaches for a Sustainable Future

Course details

From 3 June 2019 until 6 June 2019
Institute of Development Studies

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Develop your knowledge and skills on how circular economy approaches can be used in your organisation’s sustainable development work.

Photo: Lianne Milton / LMT01523BRA /Panos

The circular economy concept offers a new vision for global sustainability and development. It goes beyond the current linear make-use-dispose extractive model and focuses on positive society-wide benefits. The concept has gained attention from policymakers, businesses and development practitioners as an approach to solve pressing development issues such as the global waste and plastics crises, resource depletion, water pollution, sanitation and climate change.

IDS’ and our global partners have a wealth of experience in developing specific approaches to make the circular economy work for sustainable and human development. This unique short course draws on this expertise, and whether you work in an NGO, multilateral agency, business with sustainability and poverty objectives, or research institution it will offer you the opportunity to develop your conceptual understanding of different circular economy models, think through how these approaches can be applied in your own work and organisation and understand the shared opportunities and challenges that others working in different sectors are facing in relation to the circular economy and sustainable development.

The course will be held in cooperation with IDS partners including, WasteAid UK, the African Circular Economy Network and Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

Course aim

To equip you with the conceptual and practical tools to use the circular economy as approach to analyse, design, implement and evaluate projects and interventions for greater global sustainability.

Who should attend?

This course is ideal for NGO practitioners, supply chain managers in business, social entrepreneurs, social change agents as well as donors developing new programmes to tackle issues such as plastics pollution in cities, sanitation in informal settlements, access to clean energy in rural areas, unsafe working conditions of informal waste pickers, soil degradation in agriculture or water pollution from industrial development. We also welcome researchers and postgraduate students wishing to orient their work within the emerging circular economy context and the Sustainable Development Goals.

How you’ll learn

The course combines seminars and presentations delivered by leading international experts on circular economy and interactive peer learning group work to jointly develop circular economy solutions and projects.

On Wednesday 5 June, there is a field visit to University of Brighton’s Waste House (where you’ll meet acclaimed architect Duncan Baker-Brown) and a local recycling site to further explore innovations in using waste as resource in construction and municipal waste management and recycling.

Over the four days at IDS you’ll develop an in-depth understanding of how to use our circular economy approaches for your own work, your organisations’ work and work with partners. Prior to the course, you’ll be asked to think of a specific development challenge that you are dealing with in your work. During the course you and your facilitators will explore this question and identify specific circular economy approaches appropriate for addressing this challenge. In small groups, you will design a circular economy project.

The course comprises the following sessions:

  • Introduction to the concept and key approaches of the circular economy; critical analysis of the potential and implications of circular economy for developing and developed countries and opportunities for the implementation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals through circular economy approaches. Through presentations and group discussions, you’ll explore circular economy case studies that have been implemented in international development, including bioenergy solutions in Uruguay, e-waste repair and recycling in Nigeria and Ghana, and industrial symbiosis in Chinese eco-industrial parks.
  • Linking circular economy and human development. Through presentations and group discussions, you’ll examine specific examples of circular economy approaches in global textile value chains such as the use of textile waste products for sanitary products for women in Bangladesh, you’ll develop circular economy projects based on an integrative framework that makes the circular economy work for human development.
  • Linking community-based waste management, plastics recycling and poverty reduction. Drawing on examples from DR Congo, The Gambia, Pakistan, Brazil and the Philippines, you’ll discuss and develop community-based initiatives to tackle marine plastics pollution, based on a proven methodology and toolkit, and design and present interventions which address real world challenges in the context of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Linking the global to the local. Introduction to circular economy business models and approaches; examples and case studies of circular business models and entrepreneurship from Brighton and Hove and the African Circular Economy Network. Working in small groups, you’ll conduct a value chain analysis of a specific sector to develop an inclusive circular economy business model with positive social impacts.

Learning outcomes

After completing this course you will be able to:

  • understand the circular economy concept and know how to apply appropriate circular economy practices for positive social change
  • re-evaluate existing development interventions and apply circular economy thinking
  • be able to analyse circular economy business models and policies and their impacts on developing countries
  • have clarity about how to create synergies and avoid trade-offs between the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals


Patrick Schröder is Research Fellow at the Institute of Development Studies and main facilitator of this course. His research interests and expertise relate to the global transition to a circular economy within the context of sustainable consumption and production (SCP) systems and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Prior to joining IDS, Patrick was based in Beijing from 2008-2015. He worked extensively in development cooperation programmes of the European Union, including the SWITCH-Asia Programme, promoting circular economy approaches and sustainable consumption and production practices among Asian SMEs. He has extensive experience in designing and implementing capacity building projects and workshops on the circular economy and the Sustainable Development Goals. The course will introduce and use frameworks he developed to make the circular economy work for human development and the SDGs.

Ken Webster is Head of Innovation at the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. He has worked with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation since January 2010. He has a background in economics education and environmental issues. His latest book The Circular Economy: A Wealth of Flows relates the connections between systems thinking, economic and business opportunity and the potential for a circular economy. He is a Visiting Fellow at Cranfield University, an Honorary Teaching Fellow at the School of Management at the University of Bradford and a major contributor to their MBA Innovation, Enterprise and the Circular Economy.

Mamunur Rahman, IDS and Sussex alum and founder of the Ella Pad initiative. He has worked for the Government of Bangladesh, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Grameen Bank. As an independent gender consultant he worked for different UN agencies including the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), United Nations Volunteers (UNV), and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) at international level. In 2013, with the support of the UNFPA, Mamunur Rahman developed the Ella Pad model which demonstrates a practical circular economy solution: a low-cost sanitary napkin made of garment waste.

Mike Webster, WasteAid UK, was voted by his peers as the waste and resources sector number one influencer in 2018. Mike has worked for over 17 years in the waste and secondary resource sector, with frontline experience of planning, development and delivery of effective waste and recycling systems, both in the UK and worked internationally, including the South Pacific, Latin America and West Africa, working with numerous of community-based organisations to deliver composting and recycling systems. He has experience in both consultancy and the charitable sector, having co-founded NGO WasteAid UK and set up a training centre for waste livelihoods in The Gambia. He is also an experienced trainer, having developed numerous training courses around waste and recycling related topics around the world. Mike co-authored Making Waste Work, a toolkit for community waste management in lower- and middle-income countries.

Peter Desmond is the CEO of Growth International and the Co-Founder of the African Circular Economy Network. Peter also works with a number of SMEs in Brighton & Hove and Cape Town, to support their development and implementation of circular business models. In the area of sustainability and business ethics Peter worked with organisations such as Tomorrow’s Company, the UK government’s previous small business support programme, Business Link, and Brighton University’s Green Growth Platform. As IDS Alum, he was introduced to the circular economy through his MA course at IDS. His dissertation was entitled Towards a circular economy in South Africa – what are the constraints to recycling mobile phones?

Entry requirements

Prior to the course, you’ll be expected to think about how the circular economy relates to a project or thematic area you are dealing with in your work, or relating to your organisation’s practice. The course facilitators will work with you on this in advance of the course and this will be further explored during the course.

The course is taught in English. To derive the maximum benefit from the course, you should be proficient in English and able to take an active part in discussions. Your English needs to be of an intermediate standard or higher. Ideally you will have an International English Language Test System (IELTS) score of 6.5 or above, or a Common European Framework for Languages (CEFR) score of B2 or above.

Course Fees

Course fees are £1,300.

Fees include lunches and refreshments, one evening group dinners, and course materials. It does not include accommodation, insurance or travel costs.

Once you have received confirmation that your application has been approved, the fee must be paid in full on receipt of invoice. 

Scholarships and bursaries

IDS scholarship
One IDS scholarship is available to an individual from a lower or middle-income country (see our country list) who is committed to sharing their circular economy learning with other individuals and organisations trying to support human development. Selection will be based on the applicant’s ability to demonstrate their potential to share their learning for maximum outreach and impact.

Within 12 months of completing the course the successful applicant will be required to provide a short report to IDS on how they applied their learning and supported others to learn.

Please note that the IDS scholarship covers tuition fees only. Unfortunately IDS is unable to cover travel, accommodation, insurance, visa or living costs.

The scholarship application deadline is 11 February 2019.

IDS alumni bursary
We are pleased offer one bursary for IDS alumni. This single award, funded by IDS, is in the form of a 20 per cent course fee discount. It is subject to terms and conditions, and will be offered to one applicant on a first-come first-served basis. Please indicate on your application form that you wish to be considered for this bursary. 

How to apply

Before applying please read our short course Terms and Conditions (pdf) and Code_of_Conduct (pdf).

The application procedure is a three-stage process:

Stage 1: Apply by completing the online application form. Deadline for applications is 22 April 2019. The course code is GT18012.

Stage 2: You will be notified within one month as to whether your application has been approved or not. Successful applicants will receive the Stage 2 application form and an invoice for the course fee. Places on the course are not guaranteed until fees have been received.

Stage 3: Once fees have been received, you will be sent confirmation of your place on the course and a letter to support your visa application (if required).

You are responsible for organising your own travel and visas (where needed). Please note that UK visa applications can take months to process. Information about local accommodation will be provided by the course coordinator once your fees have been processed. A limited number of study bedrooms at IDS are available for rent on a first come first served basis. 


Teaching staff

Image of Patrick Schröder
Patrick Schröder

Research Fellow


About this professional development course

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