Cardiff Metropolitan University
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Engagement with Higher Education Surface Pattern Design Students as a Catalyst for Circular Economy Action

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journal contribution
posted on 2022-01-27, 11:25 authored by Steven Whitehill, Carolyn HaylesCarolyn Hayles, Sean Jenkins, Jim Taylour
The ‘circular economy’ is seen as an approach by which the issue of sustainability can be addressed whilst broadly maintaining patterns of production, consumption, economic growth, and living standards. If circular economy ambitions are to be achieved, ways and processes of manufacturing need to radically change from the current linear model, and there is the potential for higher education students to act as active participants and catalysts, as explored in this research. The objective of this study is to demonstrate the potential for collaborative learning projects to generate value to all stakeholders and participants, with the definition of value pertinent to each participant’s needs whilst also addressing the principles of circular economy. A case study collaborative learning design project is used to illustrate the positive direct and indirect outcomes and to show how such design projects can form part of a wider drive for transition through innovation towards circular economy ways of working. We consider this research to be at the intersection of circular economy advancement and the integration of effective methods of education for the circular economy in higher education. A cohort of 29 undergraduate surface pattern design students was engaged in a challenge-based design project co-created with an established manufacturing firm. This research shows how such projects provide learning not only for students but also the case study firm and give tangible outputs in terms of new value-generative products. Through an examination of the reflective comments of participants, an outline of key aspects to consider in delivering such projects to ensure greatest impact is identified.


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  • VoR (Version of Record)


Whitehill, S., Hayles, C.S., Jenkins, S. and Taylour, J. (2022) 'Engagement with Higher Education Surface Pattern Design Students as a Catalyst for Circular Economy Action', Sustainability, 14(3), p.1146.

Electronic ISSN


Cardiff Met Affiliation

  • Cardiff School of Art and Design

Cardiff Met Authors

Carolyn S. Hayles

Cardiff Met Research Centre/Group

Sustainable and Resilient Built Environment group (SuRBe)

Copyright Holder

  • © The Authors


  • en