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Challenge Driven Education to enhance competencies in sustainability and Innovation. Case study: Recircula Challenge Circular Economy at Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya
Today our societies face a range of complex challenges, from sustainable development to aging populations and the well-being of their citizens. University graduates can contribute solutions to societal problems that are trans-disciplinary, challenge driven and require skills beyond the knowledge of a single discipline. In this context, Challenge Driven Education is taking momentum in higher education. In this paper, we explore the role that Challenge Driven Education may have in training graduates to become change agents for a more sustainable society. Among the different approaches of Challenge Driven education, this paper studies Challenge Contest scheme. The goal of our research is to analyze the learning processes and learning outcomes by all the stakeholders participating in such challenge have driven education contest.
The research focuses on the “Recircula Challenge” case study that the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya is organizing jointly with companies and the regional government. The Recircula Challenge is a competition that wants to test student teams so that they propose solutions to real and urgent challenges of the circular economy. The main goals are: Provide students with a unique learning experience; Visibilize the talent of collaborative interdisciplinary teams of students and teachers in the field of circular economy; Find innovative solutions to avoid or give way to waste that is an important social problem; Show that the future goes through the circular economy, where any residue should be avoided or turned into a new resource. In our study, the sample consists of 21 groups of students and mentors.
A mixed research methodology is applied under the action research framework. A Pre-Post test quantitative analysis and semi-structured interviews plus focus groups qualitative tools are used. At the time of writing this abstract the Recircula Challenge is in its initial phase but by the time to submit the paper we expect to have qualitative and quantitative results that confirm that challenge driven education can play a crucial role to train the future graduates with the competencies needed to lead the transition to a more sustainable society.