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2020/2021  KAN-CCMVI2093U  Circular Economies: Towards a Global Shift?

English Title
Circular Economies: Towards a Global Shift?

Course information

Language English
Course ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Elective
Level Full Degree Master
Duration Summer
Start time of the course Summer
Timetable Course schedule will be posted at calendar.cbs.dk
Max. participants 80
Study board
Study Board for MSc in Economics and Business Administration
Course coordinator
  • Martin Skrydstrup - Department of Management, Society and Communication (MSC)
For academic questions related to the course, please contact instructor Associate Professor, Dr. Martin Skrydstrup MSC, CBS at msk.msc@cbs.dk
Other academic quesitons: contact academic director Sven Bislev at sb.msc@cbs.dk
Main academic disciplines
  • Corporate governance
  • CSR and sustainability
  • Globalisation and international business
Teaching methods
  • Online teaching
Last updated on 21/01/2021

Relevant links

Learning objectives
To achieve the grade 12, students should meet the following learning objectives with no or only minor mistakes or errors:
  • Identify and critically discuss the what, how and why of circular economy, its core concepts and main theories
  • Application of the critical concepts to key operational principles of the circular economy.
  • Understand and assess the key value proposition, business models and strategic advances of the circular economy.
  • Critically understand and assess the ways in which circularity and sustainability can be measured and quantified.
  • Identify and critically discuss the governance of circular economies at various scales, sites, and levels
Course prerequisites
Circular Economies: Towards a Global Shift?:
Exam ECTS 7.5
Examination form Home assignment - written product
Individual or group exam Individual exam
Size of written product Max. 15 pages
Assignment type Project
Duration Written product to be submitted on specified date and time.
Grading scale 7-point grading scale
Examiner(s) One internal examiner
Exam period Summer, Ordinary exam: Home Assignment: 22 June-30 July 2021. Please note that exam will start on the first teaching day and will run in parallel with the course.
Retake exam: 72-hour home assignment: 27 – 30 September 2021 – for all ISUP courses simultaneously
3rd attempt (2nd retake) exam: 72-hour home assignment: 22 – 25 November 2021 – for all ISUP courses simultaneously

Exam schedules available on https:/​/​www.cbs.dk/​uddannelse/​international-summer-university-programme-isup/​courses-and-exams
Make-up exam/re-exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam
Retake exam: 72-hour home project assignment, max. 10 pages, new exam question
Exam form for 3rd attempt (2nd retake): 72-hour home project assignment, max. 10 pages, new exam question
Course content, structure and pedagogical approach
Course content:

A linear economy extracts resources at increasing rates – currently humanity uses resources that would require 1,5 Planet Earths to keep up each year – without consideration of the environment in which it operates. The concept of the circular economy promises a way out. Here products do not become waste. The circular economy promises to keep products and goods at their highest utility and value at all times and is restorative and regenerative by design. The course covers a range of critical questions from conceptual and practical perspectives: What is the relationship between the circular economy and growth? Who (business leaders, industrial designers, NGOs, social entrepreneurs, etc.) venture into the spaces of circular economy? What might their business models look like? How is environmental impact of production and consumption measured and assessed? And ultimately, does circular economy create value and prosperity for the current generation that is not at the expense of the opportunities for future generations?


Course structure:

The course consist of three parts:
In this introductory part of the class, we shall discuss ways of questioning the relationships between classical market economies and ideas about unlimited growth on one hand and the natural environment and ideas about finite resources and planetary boundaries on the other hand. We shall also address how to use the core concepts from this class in the design of methodologies for students’ choice of case materials/object biographies. 

This second part of the class shall interrogate challenges for circular goods by way of thinking through the value and valuation of materials.

This last part of the class addresses sites, modes and objects of governance with the rationale to achieve transitions/transformations.


For the preliminary assignment you can choose between two options:

1) Watching the world’s first feature-length documentary film on the circular economy Closing the Loop, released on 22 April 2018 (Earth Day). Free open-access viewing on YouTube:
Begin to think about your favorite circular product or service and present it in class.


2) "In the heart of the great Pacific, a story is taking place that may change the way you see everything"; is the pitch for a 1:37:45 long-documentary-film available as a free public artwork. If you can't afford so much of your time, kindly watch the 3-minute trailer here:


After watching the teaser/film, check out Dell's initiative to clean up the oceans entitled "Breaking Cycles" and present in the first class how Dell's intervention fits the idea of circular economy.


Class 1: Introduction: Getting in and out of the Loop
Class 2: Defining the Circular: Butterflies, Cradles and Doughnut Economics
Class 3: Circular Clusters: Where does a Circle begin?
Class 4: How to Study Circularity?
Class 5: Measuring Circularity: How to Distinguish Goods from Bads?
Class 6: Marketing Circularity: How to design markets for collective concerns?


Feedback activity: Term paper proposals for a "circular object biography" are evaluated, revised and returned.


Class 7: From linear to circular: Governing Transitions
Class 8: Governing the Oikos
Class 9: Governing the Oceans
Class 10: Green Governmentality
Class 11: A World without Waste?

Description of the teaching methods
This year all courses are taught digitally over the Internet. Instructors will apply direct/live teaching through a link (like Skype, Team, Zoom). In some courses, pre-recorded material will also be used.
Feedback during the teaching period
Feedback will include tentative approval/​comments/​revisions for the home assignment.
Student workload
Preliminary assignment 20 hours
Classroom attendance 33 hours
Preparation 126 hours
Feedback activity 7 hours
Examination 20 hours
Further Information
Preliminary Assignment: To help students get maximum value from ISUP courses, instructors provide a reading or a small number of readings or video clips to be read or viewed before the start of classes with a related task scheduled for class 1 in order to 'jump-start' the learning process.
Course timetable is available on https://www.cbs.dk/uddannelse/international-summer-university-programme-isup/courses-and-exams
We reserve the right to cancel the course if we do not get enough applications. This will be communicated on https://www.cbs.dk/uddannelse/international-summer-university-programme-isup/courses-and-exams in March 2021.
Expected literature

Mandatory readings: 

Kenneth Boulding’s essay “The Economics of the Coming Spaceship Earth” (1966)


Kate O’Neill’s essay “Thinking in Circles” (2019)


Kirchherr, J., Reike, D. and Hekkert, M. (2017). Conceptualizing the circular economy: An analysis of 114 definitions, Resources, Conservation & Recycling, Vol. 127, pp. 221-232. http:/​/​dx.doi.org/​10.1016/​j.resconrec.2017.09.005 - Environmental


Hervé Corvellec, Steffen Böhm, Alison Stowell & Francisco Valenzuela (2020) Introduction to the special issue on the contested realities of the circular economy, Culture and Organization, 26:2, 97-102, DOI: 10.1080/​14759551.2020.1717733 To link to this article: https:/​/​doi.org/​10.1080/​14759551.2020.1717733

Kramer, Mark R., Thijs Geradts, and Bhanuteja Nadella. "Philips Lighting: Light-as-a-Service." Harvard Business School Case 719-446, March 2019. (Revised May 2019.)


Jan van der Kaaij & B. Leleux: ”UMICORE’s Transformation and the Monetizing of Sustainability”, 2016, (p.18).


Susanne Freidberg (2013) “Calculating sustainability in supply chain capitalism”, Economy and Society, 42:4, 571-596.
DOI: 10.1080/​03085147.2012.760349


Kornberger, M (2017) ”The Values of Strategy: Valuation Practices, Rivalry and Strategic Agency”, in Organization Studies, vol. 38 (12) pp. 1753-1773
Demet Ş. Dinler (2019) MARKET, MORALITY AND (JUST)
PRICE: THE CASE OF THE RECYCLING ECONOMY IN TURKEY, The Politics and Ethics of the Just Price: Ethnographies of Market Exchange, Research in Economic Anthropology, Volume 39, 27-47


Additional relevant readings:

Angelis, Roberta De (2018) Business Models in the Circular Economy: Concepts, Examples and Theory (Palgrave)


Weetman, Catherine (2016) A Circular Economy Handbook for Business and Supply Chains (Kogan Page)

Michael Braungart & William McDonough From Cradle to Cradle: Re-Making the Way We Make Things (Vintage: [1988] 2009)


Ellen MacArthur Full Circle: My life and Journey (Michael Joseph: 2010)
---- Taking on the World: A Sailor’s Extraordinary Solo Race Around the Globe (McGraw-Hill: 2003)


Ken Webster (2017). The circular economy – A wealth of flows (Ellen MacArthur Foundation Publishing, 2nd Edition: 2017)


Walter R. Stahel The Circular Economy: A User’s Guide (Routledge: 2019)


Peter Lacy & Jakob Rutqvist Waste to Wealth: The Circular Economy Advantage (Palgrave: 2015)


Stephen J. Wright Forget Mars: Circular Economy, the Next Big Opportunity (Bluetrees 2019)


The Handbook of Circular Economy (forthcoming)


UNIDO (United Nations Industrial Development Organization) Implementation Handbook for Eco-Industrial Parks (2017)

Last updated on 21/01/2021