New MOOC provides comprehensive knowledge on the global challenges of critical raw materials

Critical raw materials are needed for current and future products and technologies. Their unique properties make them crucial for modern applications such as electronics and low-carbon technologies. At the same time, their mining, production, trade and end-of-life is related to environmental, social and political challenges. The SusCritMat contents are thus closely associated with the obstacles that our society is currently facing in addressing climate change and attaining the Sustainable Development Goals through the transition to cleaner and more sustainable technologies.

Increasing the circularity of critical raw materials is crucial for a resilient future of Europe. As a lecturer in sustainable industrial management, I learnt a lot by participating in a SusCritMat school and can use the approaches and contents in my teaching.

Yulia Lapko, School of Management at Politecnico di Milano

Participants get to know major strategies for a more circular and sustainable use of critical raw materials, comprehend the environmental and social impact of the critical raw materials value chain, understand geopolitical dependencies, and be inspired to create innovative ideas in the field.

The project team consists of business, academia and research and technology organisations, each adding their unique angle. Guests include EU and international policymakers, academics, and representatives from both large industries and entrepreneurs.

What amazes me about SusCritMat are the constant evolvements. We have had many physical and online schools and training, but they never felt repetitive due to the constant inflow of new ideas from the consortium as well as the delegates.

Alessandra Hool, Managing Director at ESM Foundation, SusCritMat Coordinator

The SusCritMat project educates people in industry and academia about important aspects of critical raw materials, their supply chain risks, and sustainable solutions to achieve a more responsible and circular use of these resources. In a novel concept, it has introduced teaching materials on these interdisciplinary topics in a modular structure. Based on these materials’ success, a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) was developed, making these contents accessible in a virtual learning experience, complemented with cutting-edge topics and an interactive concept stimulating and supporting the development of own innovative ideas. The six-weeks course was developed in partnership with the TU Delft Extension School and launched on edX in October 2020. It provides learners with a systemic understanding of critical raw materials and equips them with strategies for managing these materials in a sustainable way.

SusCritMat does not only explore the challenges, but also the opportunities of how we are going to solve the grand challenges of the 21s century.

David Peck, Professor at TU Delft, SusCritMat Consortium Member

The SusCritMat project introduced virtual courses and interdisciplinary topics in a modular structure, adaptable to various formats. A major outcome of the first phase of the project were uniform learning and teaching materials, covering 22 topics in five categories that are available free of charge on the SusCritMat website for self-study and teaching. The project was able to educate around 700 learners – students, professionals and educators – directly via schools, training, and courses.

End of 2020, SusCritMOOC has teamed up with the TU Delft Extension School (developer of the first edX MOOC on the Circular Economy; winner of the edX 2016 for the MOOC “Sustainable Energy: Design a Renewable Future”; winner of the edX price 2020 for the MOOC “Zero-Energy Design”) to coordinate the development and roll-out of a MOOC on the edX platform, combining scientific excellence with cutting-edge educational standards.

I really recommend all of you to take part in the SusCritMat programme if you want to learn about sustainable materials management.

Gwendolyn Bailey, Market Intelligence Manager at Umicore

The online contents are complemented with hybrid schools, which provide the opportunity to learn in a group, apply the knowledge to business cases and discuss selected topics in-depth with experts.

Learn more