Summer School

SMART Training Platform Summer Institute

The SMART Training Platform’s summer institute is an opportunity that brings together trainees, students, and industry professionals together for a week long immersive event.

Summer School 2022

Circular Economy and Implementation Science

This program gave participants a deeper understanding of topics that are inherent to the development and maintenance of circular economies and approaches to solving these problems. This included the opportunities and challenges that arise as part of the circular food and digital agri-food revolution, healthy cities, and the circular food systems. The learning experience included small, interactive sessions and activities as well as case study competitions where interdisciplinary groups formed to solve a “real-world” challenge from a partner in the sector.

Participants were from across Canada with an interest or background in circular economy and implementation science. The cohort included graduate students and professionals from business, government, and civil society.

The summer school was a collaboration between the University of Guelph Arrell Food Institute, University of Guelph SMART Training Platform, and the Smart Cities Initiative of the City of Guelph/County of Wellington.

Testimonials

“This program was an amazing experience! The collaborations and interdisciplinary nature of this program made this experience a memorable one and I was able to learn a lot about how circular economies work. Meeting students across disciplines also made this a great experience, promoting fruitful discussions and critical thinking all week long. I strongly suggest such a program as it encourages you to step outside your comfort zone and learn more about the world we live in.”

“Please take the time to sign up. It’s an amazing experience, outside of learning more about how you can contribute to creating a circular economy, the people are fantastic. Getting a chance to sit down and speak with students from almost every province, from local and international backgrounds was amazing. Coming together for this experience was amazing and Guelph is a beautiful school and an amazing place to explore and enjoy outside of the program hours.”

Summary

In Summer 2022, we piloted a national circular food economy summer school program that linked a cohort of individuals from across Canada, including graduate students and practitioners from business, civil society, government, and industry in a multidisciplinary setting.

The pilot Circular Economy Summer School was a collaborative effort between the following university partners: AFI, SMART, RIO, and the Our Food Future County of Wellington / City of Guelph Smart Cities initiative.  Sixteen graduate students from 10 universities across Canada and in over 11 disciplines and two Research Innovation Office policy fellows participated.  A participant noted; “The interdisciplinary selection of candidates for this program was incredibly valuable. Working with people with different perspectives and experience helped me frame problems and solutions in a different light.”

The summer school offered the opportunity for participants to gain a deeper understanding of topics and considerations inherent to the development and maintenance of circular economies. The students spent the week learning about a circular economy through a roundtable panel with businesses and community organizations, presentations from U of G and City of Guelph experts, a tour of sustainable ag businesses in the Guelph-Wellington area, and interdisciplinary group work.   Groups spent the week developing a pitch for a solution to a challenge in a circular economy business and presented these pitches to U of G and City of Guelph representatives on the last day. The week began with a Circular Economy Business and Community Roundtable.  The topics for discussion were regenerative agriculture, resource exchange, upcycling and collaboration, packaging and plastics and social innovation and financing – and included partners within the local Circular Economy ecosystem.    This discussion formed the basis for interdisciplinary collaboration for the students, who spent the next two days in group work, proposing a pitch for a solution to challenges that came out of the roundtable.

Students also participated in a Tour of Circular Economy Agri-Food Businesses in the Wellington County area.  The tour was led by a Principal Consultant with Headlands Ag-Enviro Solutions and stops included wastewater treatment facilities and farming equipment supply companies.  Students were introduced to the challenges inherent to sustainable circular economies along the supply chain as well as solutions that farmers and other businesses are creating.  The tour ended with a sustainable lunch and a tour of a co-working and community hub in the city of Guelph. 

In addition to creating a national community of practice, students cited 93.75% of students strongly agree this experience helped develop peer network and interactions with students in other fields and institutions, and 81.25% would recommend the program to their peers.

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