Ellen MacArthur Foundation

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation works with business, government and academia to build a framework for an economy that is restorative and regenerative by design.

Reviews (4)

Frank Freystätter
Steven Diacono
Some excellent insights and great material in this MOOC
Aurélien Šušnjara
This course gives a clear and precise idea of what circular economy is, with insightful examples.
jules hayward


Function, performance, ergonomics...these are all considerations for the product or systems designer.  Are there additional considerations when designing for a circular economy?

This resource has been produced to introduce some design considerations for a circular economy.  It does not pretend to be an exhaustive exploration, rather we hope it begins a learning journey.


What is a circular economy?

Today’s linear ‘take, make, dispose’ economic model, which relies on large quantities of cheap, easily accessible materials and energy, has been at the heart of industrial development and has generated an unprecedented level of growth.

Yet increased price volatility and growing pressure on resources have alerted business leaders and policymakers to the necessity of rethinking materials and energy use – the time is right, many argue, to take advantage of the potential benefits of a circular economy.

A circular economy is one that is restorative and regenerative by design and aims to keep products, components, and materials at their highest utility and value at all times, distinguishing between technical and biological cycles. This new economic model seeks to ultimately decouple global economic development from finite resource consumption. Numerous studies have shown that the circular economy has a positive effect on employment.

As the call for a new economic model based on systems-thinking grows louder, an unprecedented favourable alignment of technological and social factors today can enable the transition to a circular economy.


It's time to think differently...

What will you learn in this course?

As well as learning a little more about the what the circular economy is, you will also have access to text, videos, audio and graphics which help explain the role of:

  • Whole systems design
  • Design for disassembly
  • Design for durability
  • Design for performance
  • Biomimicry design strategies
  • Agricultural systems
  • Emerging technology

Who is this course for?

  • Designers who want to explore some core ideas and case studies about how they could incorporate circular economy thinking into their projects.
  • Students of design, whether at school or university, who are investigating the circular economy.

How long does the course last?

While the course has been designed for you to dip into and out of, it would be possible to read and watch all of the material in a two-three hour sitting.

About the Ellen MacArthur Foundation

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation was formed in 2010 to inspire a generation to rethink, redesign and build a positive future. The Foundation believes that the circular economy provides a coherent framework for systems level redesign and as such offers us an opportunity to harness innovation and creativity to enable a positive, restorative economy.

Course content

  • What is a circular economy?

  • What is a linear economy?

  • Characteristics of a circular economy

  • A Systems Approach

  • Efficiency versus effectiveness

  • Taking inspiration from nature

  • Some design strategies

  • Designing for performance

  • Harnessing emerging technology

  • Agricultural systems

  • The economic case

  • Case studies

  • Discover more

Interested? Enroll to this course right now.

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