The Future of Education

Edition 14

Accepted Abstracts

Integrating Circular Economy Concepts in School Programmes

Armida Torreggiani, National Research Council of Italy (CNR) (Italy)

Alberto Zanelli, National Research Council of Italy (CNR) - Istituto per la Sintesi Organica e la Fotoreattività (ISOF) (Italy)

Ornella Francioso, University of Bologna (Italy)

Lorenzo Forini, Gamification External Consultant (Italy)

Alessandra Degli Esposti, National Research Council of Italy (CNR) (Italy)

Renata Lapinska-Viola, National Research Council of Italy (CNR) - Istituto per la Sintesi Organica e la Fotoreattività (ISOF) (Italy)

Emilia Benvenuti, National Research Council of Italy (CNR) - Institute for Microelectronics and Microsystems (Italy)


The established economic practices, prevailing production, consumption and development in a global range, are dominated by the linear process based on a “take-make-use-dispose” model, having a high cost from an economic, social and environmental point of view.
To adopt sustainable strategies with respect to finite resources, and of course to the climate change, it is essential to move towards an alternative model, that can decrease the risk of resource scarcity, responding the unprecedented climate challenges. Thus, Europe is working on the transition towards circular economy (CE). CE is an economic system that aims to give the longest use life to goods and devices, to eliminate waste and keeping resources within the production cycle. Transitioning to CE represents a systemic shift that builds long-term resilience, generates business and economic opportunities, and provides environmental and societal benefits. [1]
But how can the CE key concepts be successfully introduced in secondary schools, where they are rarely part of education? Transferring these ideas is an important task to prepare future generations for the requirements, and challenges of a sustainable future.
There is a wide range of topics within the theme of circular economy and not limited to “lecture-based” environmental education, students from 10 to 18 yrs old can be involved in thoughtful discussions about habits of consumption, and engaged in concrete actions and in communication work towards society. This is the aim of the European project, Raw Matters Ambassadors @Schools (RM@Schools), [2] funded by the European Institute for Innovation and Technology (EIT) since 2016. RM@Schools has developed learning pathways where different educational approaches (such as learning by doing, team working, gamification, etc.) are used to foster students’ interest in science and circular economy topics.
Applying to all levels of schooling education, any effective reform of curricula regarding CE should be accompanied by the teachers’ support and training. Thus, to introduce the key concepts of CE at school, the RM@Schools consortium developed some hands-on toolkits accompanied by learning materials to involve students in lab experiments where i.e. they can test directly how it is possible to transform a waste in a new resource and educational games such as ecoCEO™, a card game that aims to increase awareness and transferring knowledge about CE strategies and circular business models in a hands on and fun way [3]. The learning materials cover a multitude of fields like economy, geology, chemistry, technology, environment, etc, and are free available on the e-learning platform of RM@Schools project [4]. In conclusion, there experiments and games may be useful tools for making young people aware of the complexity and interrelation of economy with environmental sustainability issues.

Keywords: Circular Economy, Lab Experiments, Gamification, Raw Materials, High school, cross-curricular learning.


  1. Report on Critical Raw Materials and the Circular Economy,
  2. Torreggiani A, Zanelli A. et al. (2020) RM@Schools: Fostering Students’ Interest in Raw Materials and a Sustainable Society. In: 10th International conference the future of education virtual edition, Firenze (Italy) 18-19/6/2020;
  3. Torreggiani A., Forini L., Zanelli A. (2020) Eco-CEO: understand the circular economy by playing, In: 10th International conference the future of education virtual edition, Firenze (Italy) 18-19/6/2020,

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