Boundless Accelerator + University of Guelph: Breaking the Mould with a Revolutionary Circular Economy Course

Jan 2, 2024

 Years back, Albert Einstein wisely noted, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” Today, those words are as pertinent as ever. Our world confronts various challenges, climate change notably among them, demanding a broader perspective and shift in our approach. This brings us to the collaboration between Boundless Accelerator and the University of Guelph, OpenEd, launching a fresh new offering – the “Introducing the Circular Economy” course. This course was developed with Boundless Accelerator (formerly Innovation Guelph) as part of its collaboration with the Circular Opportunity Innovation Launchpad (COIL) and was funded by Desjardins. More than just a lecture series, this course adopts an accessible, self-directed format to help students grasp the ins and outs of the circular economy and their role in it.

What’s the circular economy all about? It’s not just recycling; it’s a second chance for everything. Going beyond the basics, it’s a regenerative system that values every resource, leaving nothing to waste. Mimicking nature, it operates on a closed loop, efficiently using and cycling resources back to the start of the product life cycle. While similar practices have existed for centuries, the circular economy is a modern concept emphasizing repair, reuse, and regeneration, offering a win-win for people, businesses, and the planet.

Dr. Christopher Coghlan, Director of Curriculum and Strategy at Boundless Accelerator, is a driving force behind this course. With a passion for educating entrepreneurs on the circular economy, he’s been instrumental in creating programs like Seeding Our Food Future and COIL Activate. In his current role, Christopher builds relationships with circular thought leaders and practitioners while developing educational resources for businesses and citizens. Christopher’s collaboration with the University of Guelph began as part of COIL, laying the foundation for an exciting introductory course on the circular economy. With a carefully crafted curriculum drawing on leading circular economy thinkers and practitioners, and using COIL Activate videos as case studies, this new course is poised to make a significant impact, eagerly awaiting its journey from inception to success. It combines leading results and findings from Our Food Future and COIL, while including circular economy approaches, practices and tools from Guelph-Wellington, Canada, and the world. 

The “Introducing the Circular Economy” course will be offered three times a year, coinciding with the University of Guelph semester schedule: January 8th to April 19th, May to August (exact dates to be determined), and September to December (exact dates to be determined).

Priced at only $150, the entirely virtual and self-directed “Introducing the Circular Economy” course spans approximately 10 hours. Students engage with four key units: Perspectives on the Circular Economy; Achieving the SDGs through Sustainable Operations; Business Models, Strategies and Design; and Circularity in Action: Case Studies from Guelph-Wellington. Christopher underscores the course’s uniqueness: “This course allows people to learn not only how the circular economy works but also how to apply these concepts and put ideas into action.”

The course concludes with a final quiz requiring a 75% passing grade, aiming beyond assessment to inspire transformative change in personal or business practices. The learning journey will continue post-course with a curated a list of resources, extending knowledge beyond the program’s confines.

Why is a course like this is so crucial? According to Christopher, the most significant takeaway from this course is integrating circular practices into your everyday life—whether in business, policymaking or as a consumer. This, he says, is key to slashing waste and making a positive impact on the environment. “This course provides both the theoretical knowledge and historical context behind the circular economy and provides tools to take the next step and tangibly build on these ideas,” he says.

“Introducing the Circular Economy” extends its invitation beyond the boundaries of the University of Guelph, welcoming participants from diverse backgrounds and fields. Emphasizing the inclusive nature of its curriculum, the “Introducing the Circular Economy” course is an asset for a broad audience, ranging from university students and professionals in the circular space to entrepreneurs and experts seeking insights. “Everyone will get something different out of it,” Christopher remarks before adding: “This introductory course will stimulate further interest in the circular economy at the individual, institutional, and community levels.”

Are you ready to make a positive impact? Sign up for “Introducing the Circular Economy” on the University of Guelph, OpenEd website now! Don’t forget to follow Boundless Accelerator on social media for more information on this and other important topics about entrepreneurship.

Remember Einstein’s words above: to make a difference, you need to think differently. This course is your chance to learn how to do just that. Join us in shaping a more sustainable future for everyone.

Innovation Guelph has become Boundless Accelerator