Circular economy now included in IB curriculum


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We are collaborating with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation to embed systems thinking and a circular economy perspective into the IB curriculum. This will enable IB students to create and be part of realising a positive narrative for the future with an economy that works in the long-term.

The circular economy framework, developed by EMF, sets out a model for an economy that is restorative and regenerative by design. Through this new initiative, we will provide teachers and students with classroom resources which link circular economy and systems thinking to students’ curriculum learning. For example, the new 2017 Diploma Programme (DP) geography course will feature specific references to the circular economy.

To launch this collaboration, Dame Ellen MacArthur, Founder of the EMF, presented a keynote speech to an audience of 1,500 IB educators at the IB’s Africa, Europe and Middle East Regional Conference in Barcelona in October.

Dame Ellen MacArthur said: “The link with education is clear. We need an entire generation of young people and adults alike thinking differently, thinking in circular ways. At the moment our economy is predominantly linear: we take a material out of the ground, we make something out of it and ultimately that product, in the most part, gets thrown away. Circular thinking means considering from the beginning of the process of designing a product, how to design it to fit within a system, and how the materials it contains will be recovered after use. So it’s an entirely different approach, and in order to apply this at scale across the global economy we need to think differently.”

Dr Siva Kumari, IB Director General said “As well as classroom resources, we will also work with the EMF on curriculum innovation, exploring the importance of project-based, interdisciplinary learning that enables learners to consider the interconnectedness of our increasingly complex world”.

We have been developing our relationship with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation since 2013, and shares its values in seeing education as the key to developing the thinking needed to create a restorative and regenerative economy for generations to come. The collaboration continues with Dr Mats Linder, Project Manager at EMF, presenting on science education and the circular economy at the recent IB Science Symposium, which brings together science experts from a variety of fields around the world.

Dame Ellen MacArthur concluded: “We are delighted to be collaborating with the IB, which works with people from all over the world who already have a different point of view because of their studies. The fascinating thing about working with young people is that, given the right inputs, they inspire themselves, and embrace new ideas and a different way of thinking. This fits beautifully with systems thinking and the circular economy and the ability to see the world in a different way.”


* Systems thinking is a management discipline that concerns an understanding of a system by examining the linkages and interactions between the components that comprise the entirety of that defined system.