'All They Do Is Win': Lessons learned from use of a serious game for Circular Economy education
Journal article, 2018

This paper aims to explore how Circular Economy (CE) can be taught in higher education through the use of a serious game, In the Loop. Despite the growing literature base related to CE, academic reflection on education for CE is currently limited. In the Loop was developed to provide an experiential learning situation for educating about material scarcity 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 five themes: Gameplay, Systems Thinking, Material Criticality, Realism/Real World Connection, and Suggestions for Change (to the game). Use of the game encouraged students to think holistically and reflect on material scarcity. Students highlighted the importance of adopting strategies, including CE, 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 broad relevance in education related to resource management practices and confirms previous research on the benefits of games as boundary objects to facilitate systems thinking.

Circular economy

Serious games

Higher education

Systems thinking

Material scarcity


Katherine Whalen

Lund University

Cecilia Berlin

Chalmers, Industrial and Materials Science, Design and Human Factors

Johanna Ekberg

Surface and Microstructure Engineering

Ilaria Giovanna Barletta

Chalmers, Industrial and Materials Science, Production Systems

Peter Hammersberg

Advanced Non-destructive Testing

Resources, Conservation and Recycling

09213449 (ISSN) 18790658 (eISSN)

Vol. 135 335-345

Subject Categories

Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics

Educational Sciences

Materials Engineering


Pedagogical Work

Other Materials Engineering


Driving Forces

Sustainable development

Innovation and entrepreneurship

Areas of Advance


Materials Science

Learning and teaching

Pedagogical work



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