IA20140 Design a Sustainable Future

Academic Year 2024/2025

Module Purpose:

This module aims to empower students with the skills and knowledge to develop sustainable business models that effectively address real-world challenges within the framework of a circular economy. Leveraging design thinking, students will engage in creating innovative solutions that are both sustainable and economically viable.

Module Overview:
In this engaging module, students will delve into the principles of the circular economy, using the Sustainable Business Model Canvas to foster innovative designs for products and services that promote sustainability. Through hands-on activities at the Circular Business lab, students will explore real-life applications of sustainable business practices and technologies.

Key components of the module include:

Sustainable Design and Development: Apply the Sustainable Business Model Canvas to create and refine products or services, focusing on sustainability.
Storytelling for Sustainability: Learn the art of impactful storytelling to communicate your sustainable solutions effectively to a variety of audiences.
Experiential Learning: Participate in workshops, hands-on work at the Greenacre site, and guest lectures from industry experts to see circular economy principles in action.
Collaborative Projects: Work in teams to design, develop, and present sustainable business solutions, receiving constructive feedback to enhance your learning experience.

Learning Approach:
The module emphasizes a practical, hands-on approach to learning, facilitated by UCD Greenacre’s innovative tools and resources. Greenacre, a unique acre of space at UCD, serves as an experiential learning environment where students engage with real-world sustainability challenges. Students will engage in group discussions, interactive workshops, and direct field engagements, making use of unique facilities like Upcycle Mushroom Farm, Precious Plastic.

UCD Innovation Academy

At the UCD Innovation Academy, we are a group of Educator Practitioners with extensive real-world experience as academics, business and social entrepreneurs, tech thinkers, creative professionals, and design thinking practitioners.

We take an action-oriented approach to learning, with a combination of individual, group, and class tasks and activities, including discussions, presentations, and reflection. All of our teaching is grounded in academic rigor, but our focus is on learning by doing in a real-world context.

Show/hide contentOpenClose All

Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On successful completion of this module, you will be able to:

Develop sustainable business models using Design Thinking and circular economy principles to address real-life sustainability challenges.

Apply knowledge gained from evaluating circular economy case studies and field trips to inform and create sustainable business solutions.

Effectively communicate sustainable business solutions, showcasing the process and identifying areas for improvement.

Reflect on personal and collective learning experiences, identifying opportunities for growth and continued development as agents of positive change for a sustainable future.

Indicative Module Content:

Creative Thinking: Exploring creativity through tasks, techniques and discussion
Idea Generation Techniques & Ideation Tools
Circular Economy principles
Sustainable business model canvas
Peer-peer feedback and learning

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours


Small Group


Conversation Class


Field Trip/External Visits


Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
All Innovation Academy modules take a 'learning from doing' approach, combining individual and group activities including presentations, discussion, and reflection.
Active/task-based learning
Real-world challenges
Reflective Learning
Enquiry & Problem-based learning
Student Presentations 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade In Module Component Repeat Offered
Reflective Assignment: Reflection Report Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4, Week 5 Pass/Fail Grade Scale Yes


Participation in Learning Activities: The module requires active participation and engagement, which necessitates attendance at all Scheduled classes.
Week 1, Week 7 Pass/Fail Grade Scale Yes


Group Work Assignment: Team Project Presentation Week 7 Pass/Fail Grade Scale Yes



Carry forward of passed components
Remediation Type Remediation Timing
Repeat Within Two Trimesters
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Feedback can be given to students upon request. This may include feedback on their participation during the module and/or their deliverables.