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'All they do is win' : Lessons learned from use of a serious game for Circular Economy education

  • Katherine A. Whalen
  • Cecilia Berlin
  • Johanna Ekberg
  • Ilaria Barletta
  • Peter Hammersberg
Publishing year: 2017-07-24
Language: English
Publication/Series: Resources, Conservation and Recycling
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Elsevier

Abstract english

This paper aims to explore how learning about Circular Economy (CE) may be facilitated through the use of the serious game In the Loop. Despite the growing literature base related to CE, academic reflection on education for a CE is currently limited. In the Loop was developed to provide an experiential learning situation for educating about material criticality and CE. This study reflects on the use of the game with engineering students pursuing higher education. Seventy-one reflections, written after students played the game, were qualitatively coded through the use of a-priori coding. This paper presents the findings from analysis of four themes: Gameplay, Systems Thinking, Material Criticality, and Realism/Real World Connection. Use of the game encouraged students to think holistically and reflect on material criticality. Students highlighted the importance of adopting strategies, including CE concepts, to address resource challenges, with many reflecting on how their own actions and abilities could play a role. Moreover, the study suggests In the Loop has broader relevance than engineering education alone and appears to confirm previous research on the benefits of using games to facilitate systems thinking.


  • Environmental Management
  • Circular economy
  • Higher education
  • Material scarcity
  • Serious games
  • Systems thinking


  • ISSN: 0921-3449
Katherine Whalen
E-mail: katherine [dot] whalen [at] iiiee [dot] lu [dot] se

International Institute for Industrial Environmental Economics (IIIEE)

Lund University P.O. Box 196, 22100 Lund, Sweden
Visiting Address: Tegnérsplatsen 4,Lund

Telephone: + 46 46 222 00 00 Fax: + 46 46 222 02 10