• University of Glasgow

Tackling Climate Change: Sustainable Business Models for a Circular Economy

Discover how circular economies and business models enable sustainability and help respond to the climate emergency.

825 enrolled on this course

Photo by Markus Spiske: https://www.pexels.com/photo/climate-people-street-crowd-2990610/

Tackling Climate Change: Sustainable Business Models for a Circular Economy

825 enrolled on this course

  • 4 weeks

  • 3 hours per week

  • Digital certificate when eligible

  • Introductory level

Find out more about how to join this course

Understand how businesses can help tackle the climate crisis

The climate emergency demands sustainable solutions. Circular economies and business models have been heralded by many as an important vehicle to achieve sustainable consumption and inclusive growth.

On this four-week course, you’ll gain a solid understanding of the circular economy and how businesses can transform how they operate and contribute to sustainability.

You’ll investigate the benefits and challenges of going circular using the mindset of systems to collaborate to face the climate crisis. With this knowledge, you’ll understand how circularity can help reduce our impact on the planet.

Unpack circular business models

Next, you’ll explore the core principles of a business model and how organisations can adopt a circular approach. You’ll delve into examples of different companies that have implemented circular strategies, learn how to identify opportunities for sustainable operations, and how to shift the mindset of consumers.

Discover how circularity reduces the environmental impact of a business

Finally, you’ll explore the benefits, limitations, and criticisms of the circular economy as well as the wider dynamics, including greenwashing and its impact on consumers.

With this knowledge, you’ll be able to navigate the challenges of going circular to help deliver a successful business model that reduces an organisation’s environmental impact.

Learn sustainable solutions from the specialists at The University of Glasgow

Throughout the course, you’ll be guided by the experts at The University of Glasgow who are passionate about sharing knowledge to help people and organisations to become positive change agents in the world.

By the end of the course, you’ll have the skills and confidence to communicate and implement circular strategies for a sustainable future.


  • Week 1

    Sustainability and the circular economy

    • Course welcome

      Welcome to "Circular Economy: Introduction to a Circular Business Model".

    • Week 1 overview

      The course tutors give an overview of the content for Week 1.

    • Climate change: Understanding the imperative for sustainability

      We begin the course with a very brief introduction to climate change. This sets the scene for why sustainable approaches to economic activity are needed. We introduce the idea of systems thinking - a mindset for the course.

    • Sustainability and the circular economy: Realising the societal goal to reduce the human impact on the planet and its environment

      This activity explores what is meant by sustainability and the circular economy and why they matter.

    • Introducing Anne Veck, our case study for this programme

      Our case study is the Hair and Beauty industry with a focus on Anne Veck, the UK's most sustainable salon. We'll explore how they made the transition from a linear to an increasingly circular business model.

    • Week 1 final thoughts

      Elaine gives some final thoughts on this first week.

  • Week 2

    How business models can create and contribute to a circular economy

    • Week 2 overview

      Tutor introduction to Week 2 of the course.

    • What do we mean by a business model?

      Using the framework of the "Business Model Canvas" we will explore the components of a business model before moving on to think about opportunities to adopt circular approaches.

    • Circular strategies for business models

      Building on our understanding of business models, we will identify the circular approaches that organisations can adopt as their core purpose or as part of their operations...

    • Identifying opportunities for more sustainable operations...

      Using the real life example of hairdressing business "Anne Veck" we meet with founders Anne and Keith to explore how they have made the transition from a linear business to a sustainable salon that enables a circular economy.

    • Deep dive: Carbon footprints

      Carbon footprints are used to baseline and quantify our impact and the contribution changes can make. Here we'll explain the concept and learn how to calculate them.

    • Circular solutions: Tackling salon waste

      In this deep dive, we'll explore some circular futures for salon waste.

    • Week 2 final thoughts

      We conclude the week with some final thoughts...

  • Week 3

    Driving circularity and developing circular solutions

    • Week 3 overview

      An overview of Week 3 from the course tutors.

    • Product innovation to drive circularity

      In this activity we continue to explore our case study of the hair and beauty industry. We look at examples of circular activity in more detail and think about the role of product innovation.

    • Market innovation for circularity

      We take a look at show the sharing economy has exploiting idle capacity meet peoples needs through sharing assets and resources.

    • The role of consumers in driving circularity

      Consumers ultimately determine whether or not we will succeed in meeting our needs through a circular (or increasingly circular) economy.

    • Leading the circular transformation

      In this activity we'll hear from Anne and Keith how they brought the team with them as they transformed the Salon. We will also hear about their plans to transform the industry and look at the role of the Green Salon Collective.

    • Week 3 review

      In the final activity for this week you are invited to contribute to our case discussion.

  • Week 4

    Going circular - enablers, barriers, tensions, and debates

    • Week 4 overview

      Tutor overview of the final week of the course.

    • Exploring the consumer shift

      We look at some of the things that hinder/block the adoption of pro environmental behaviours by consumers.

    • Barriers and enablers facing influencing organisations

      In this activity we take a broader view of some of the barriers and enablers that affect the ability of organisations to adopt circular principles and contribute to a circular economy.

    • Circular business models and the circular economy: A critical perspective

      In this activity we will explore some of the perceived criticisms and limitations of circular business models and the circular economy.

    • Engaging in the debate

      This discussion forum is the penultimate activity for this course. Contribute to the debate!

    • Week 4 final thoughts

      In this activity, we present some final thoughts and invite you to wrap up your learning by sharing how your thinking has shifted and evolved through the programme. Thank you for learning with us.

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and join a global classroom of learners. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Discuss the concept of circular economies and circular business models and the contribution they can make towards sustainability
  • Evaluate the key debates regarding the challenges and benefits of adopting these approaches
  • Critically engage with the benefits and challenges of transitioning to circular business models

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for those who want to learn more about how circular economies and business models enable sustainability.

It will be most useful if you already have an understanding of how business models work in practice.

Who will you learn with?

As Director of the Centre for Sustainable Solutions and Professor of Environmental and Climate Science at the University of Glasgow, I am interested in enabling people to act for a sustainable future.

I'm an Honorary Fellow in the School of Geographical & Earth Sciences at Glasgow University. My career has spanned academia, public sector and consultancy. I’m passionate about sustainable business.

Who developed the course?

The University of Glasgow

Founded in 1451, the University of Glasgow is the fourth oldest university in the English-speaking world. It is a member of the prestigious Russell Group of leading UK research universities.

  • Established

  • Location

    Glasgow, Scotland, UK
  • World ranking

    Top 70Source: QS World University Rankings 2020

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Ways to learn

Choose the best way to learn for you!

Buy this course

$69/one-off payment

Fulfill your current learning need

  • Access to this course
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Printed and digital certificate when you’re eligible

Subscribe & save

$349.99 for one year

Automatically renews

Develop skills to further your career

  • Access to this course
  • Access to 1,000+ courses
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Digital certificate when you're eligible

Cancel for free anytime

Limited access


Sample the course materials

  • Access expires 17 Aug 2024

Find out more about certificates, Unlimited or buying a course (Upgrades)

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