University of Bordeaux (France) Launch Of The Urban Mining Blended Intensive Program

Coordinated by Prof. Guido Sonnemann (University of Bordeaux), member of the “Energy Use and Circular Economy” ENLIGHT Think Tank, the Urban Mining Blended Intensive Program includes 8 online building blocks and an immersive week on the Bordeaux campus. The course is part of the Advanced Materials: Innovative Recyclying – AMIR Erasmus Mundus Joint Master program and corresponds to 6 ECTS.

Open to graduate students, this innovative transdisciplinary short program focuses on the study of urban mining in the transition to a circular economy at city and regional level, by implementing a collaborative and hands-on learning and teaching approach articulated around challenge-based education.

Throughout the course, students learn to work on real-world problems and can propose creative and innovative solutions. They learn how to move from an abstract big idea to a concrete and actionable challenge, while connecting with academic content through the identification, development, and ownership of a compelling issue.

The program, aiming to investigate interventions that can help in terms of in-use stocks, circularity metrics, life cycle thinking, sustainable development goals etc., was designed in collaboration with recognized professors from all partner universities of the ENLIGHT European Alliance, each bringing their expertise through interactive online lectures, while group work support is provided by PhD students. The teaching team also includes external experts and professionals in order to provide students with field experience.

In total, 25 students from 7 European universities are registered for the course, due to be completed on December 6th 2022 following a final group work presentation.

An immersive week on the Bordeaux campus

During their week-long physical mobility at the University of Bordeaux, students had the objective of identifying and observing a real urban challenge on the scale of the Bordeaux metropolis or the New Aquitaine region, that they will now study throughout the semester. Their project can focus on a material or product (electronic waste, construction waste, textiles, etc.), a practice (reuse or product-service systems) or a geographic area (campus, city center, industrial park, etc.), and must incorporate technological and financial solutions but also cover cultural, social, legal and economic considerations.

To this end, key local circular economy actors welcomed the students and introduced them to the challenges and opportunities of a circular city at the territorial level. These actors include Bordeaux City Hall, the Metropolitan House of Forgotten Organic Matter, Mundao, IDELAM, EcoMicro, Atelier Déco Solidaire, La Boucle and Zero Waste Bordeaux. To ensure that the students’ projects are relevant to the needs on the ground, several of these stakeholders were members of the jury that evaluated the students’ initial proposals.

In the future, there will be many obstacles to overcome and as young people we need to prepare for ourselves and also for the generations after us. ENLIGHT courses are beneficial because they are intensive: we get to know the location to see what works and what does not, and the interdisciplinary people allow us to expand our horizons.

The Urban Mining Blended Intensive Program is funded by the European Commission. The program is in line with the European Union’s dynamic towards the Circular Economy Package, consisting of an EU Action Plan for the Circular Economy that establishes a concrete and ambitious program of action, with measures covering the whole life cycle of products: from production and consumption to waste management and the market for secondary raw materials.

Founded in 2019 and selected in July 2020 under the Erasmus+ call for European Universities Initiatives, ENLIGHT (European university Network to promote equitable quality of Life, sustainability and Global engagement through Higher education Transformation) brings together nine universities from the four corners of Europe, thus truly embodying the geographical, cultural and linguistic diversity of the European continent. The partner universities draw upon this broad range of experience, the true strength of the network, as they pursue an ambitious strategy for institutional transformation towards a European University System, encompassing the educational, research & innovation, and administrative dimensions of participating institutions. This strategy defines and addresses in priority five main flagship challenges, which are key determinants of societal well-being and sustainability: health and well-being, climate action, digital innovation, equity, energy transition and circularity.