Circular economy business course

Completed project April 2017-January 2020

The circular economy was included in the study modules of business courses available for upper secondary education. The learning materials are available free of charge to upper secondary schools and vocational institutes.

What was it about?

The project was part of the education package Circular economy teaching for all levels of education, implemented between 2017 and 2019. Sitra’s vision was that all graduates should understand what the circular economy means for their work and everyday lives and what kinds of decisions and actions they can take to promote the circular economy. The aim was to increase circular economy expertise in Finland by extensive development of circular economy teaching, materials, concepts and co-operation that examine the matters from various perspectives for all levels of education. More than 50 educational institutions, teaching organisations and companies participated in the study module.

Economy and youth TAT (in Finnish) began its circular economy work in autumn 2017, supported by Sitra. At that point, the goal was formulated to be the integration of circular economy into the teaching of financial and working-life skills. The intention was to make pupils question our current unsustainable lifestyle by acquainting them with the circular economy. Furthermore, the project aimed to increase the awareness of pupils of the limited amount and economic importance of natural resources. The objective of the joint project of the Economic Information Office TAT and Sitra was to increase circular economy expertise among secondary-level teachers and students by integrating circular economy thinking into the business course study package.

Business courses are a digital learning material package for upper secondary level education. On the courses, young people learn commercial know-how and future working-life skills. The course packages are freely available to all Finnish upper secondary schools and vocational institutions. The learning materials are based on authentic business cases provided by companies. The topics of the courses are:

  1. Sales, marketing and commercialisation
  2. Communication and negotiation skills
  3. The global market
  4. The economy, money and entrepreneurship

What was achieved?

During the project, circular economy thinking was integrated into the business courses study package. The global market course offers a deeper introduction to the circular economy and responsible business, whereas in the other courses circular economy themes are included at least in the form of examples. The learning material for business courses is available in the Claned learning environment. The materials are updated according to need and feedback. The first update was carried out in December 2019.

During the project, a separate learning package covering 20 lessons, “From Waste Economy to Circular Economy”, was also created for secondary-level education. The focus of the learning material is on financial and working-life skills and entrepreneurship. The material can be downloaded from the Business Courses website (in Finnish), and is also available in different language versions (Finnish, English). In addition, the circular economy was included in the learning material content of the digital student counselling tool Opopassi.

During the project, animated films and podcasts about the circular economy were produced to support teaching. The videos can be viewed on TAT’s YouTube channel (in Finnish). In addition, a video series of Finnish business examples in the circular economy was produced, and it can be viewed on the Business Courses YouTube channel (in Finnish). Circular economy podcasts were also produced for TAT’s #puhurahasta (#talkaboutmoney) and Puhu työstä (talk about work) (in Finnish) series, which teachers can use as part of their teaching.

In 2019, business courses reached approximately 29,600 students. In addition, some 250 teachers were given training and an introduction to the circular economy. Training events were organised in Helsinki, Tampere, Lappeenranta, Seinäjoki, Kuopio and Jyväskylä, among others. In addition, during the project teachers participated in training and workshops organised by other bodies, such as the Federation of Finnish Enterprises and various educational institutions.

In spring 2020, the business courses are being used in upper secondary education for the fourth academic year running. Over these years, the courses have been used in 135 upper secondary schools and vocational institutions. The feedback has been excellent, and 92% of the students recommend the courses and learning materials to other students.

The circular economy expert who worked in the project will continue in his/her task after the project has ended. Teacher training will continue in spring 2020 in the form of training events and webinars (in Finnish).

Who participated?

Learning materials are part of TAT’s activities. Sitra funded the project, and the project managers at Sitra were Riitta Silvennoinen and Nani Pajunen. The other participants included the University of Helsinki, Aalto University, CMI, the Ministry of Education and Culture, the Finnish National Agency for Education, Tela, Nordea, Lidl, UPM, Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences, the Confederation of Finnish Industries EK and Slush. The course package has been awarded a pedagogical quality certificate by Kokoa Standard.


Nani Pajunen
Senior Lead, Sustainability solutions

What's this about?