How can universities contribute to a circular economy?

This Energy Talk aims to contribute to the EUSEW objectives by discussing how universities can contribute to a circular economy by engaging in new policy developments, share best practices and sustainable energy ideas at European level. The energy sector is evolving rapidly creating new job opportunities while requiring new skills and expertise to be developed in rapid timescales. Universities need to take this opportunity to come forward with faster ways of updating and generating new learning material, based on the latest research-based available knowledge.

 Some of the main queries of the Energy Talk will be:

  1. How the university community can better engage to contribute to a circular economy?
  2. What is the role of European university networks, such as the EUA Energy and Environment platform (EUA-EPUE) to address this challenge?

 Participants will be invited to reflect on how to integrate the reflections in their respective institutions and foster collaboration among universities, industry, and society for a circular economy.

 The session aims to present how universities can contribute to a circular economy. A key aspect to be discussed is how universities could increase collaboration with industrial and societal actors (e.g. municipalities, cultural institutes etc.) in the development and provision of innovative modules and programmes. The Energy Talk aims to strengthen the dialogue on the current and future role of universities in the triangle of Europe’s energy research and higher education policy:

  • How can European universities contribute to the transition to a circular economy?

Universities are engaged in providing a reliable supply of clean, affordable energy for all. They are committed in addressing the complex and significant technical, social, political, economic, legal and ethical issues in a cross-cutting perspective to ensure sustainable growth and development. An effective circular economy requires consideration of circular factors from the outset. How can universities prepare and train professionals for this new approach?

  •  How to achieve a cross/inter-disciplinary approach in education, training, research?

This discussion will find inspiration on the Action Agenda report (EUA, 2017) which articulates a new vision for education, continued professional development and research in energy to make more use of innovative learning and teaching methods and to foster entrepreneurship skills among students including e-learning and active learning. A new interdisciplinary approach reflects the growing complexity of the whole energy system and a growing need for engineers and scientists to understand societal, economic and political factors and their impact on the energy transition.

  •  How universities can collaborate with relevant industrial and societal actors?

The platform is nowadays actively contributing to the development and implementation of the SET-Plan process, e.g. through their involvement in its various implementation plans.


Chair of EUA Energy and Environment Platform
Durham University, UK