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Lectorate Circular Transition

The professorship on Circular Transition is part of the Fontys Centre of Expertise Circular Transition. This professorship, headed by professor Jifke Sol, focuses specifically on bringing together existing professorships in the engineering, commercial and social domain in the field of circular economy and the energy transition.

The focus of the professorship is to conduct practice-based research into socially inclusive solutions for circular transitions for the SME manufacturing industry and municipalities in the Fontys regions. The professorship will also work to develop interdisciplinary research methods for circular transitions, taking the next step in multidisciplinary research work. Knowledge development and innovation in the range of study programmes offered by Fontys, together with knowledge development for the professionalisation of lecturing staff with regard to circular transitions, will play an important role. Finally, the professorship will work hard to disseminate knowledge of circular transitions in the form of publications, lectures and workshops, etc. in the knowledge domain. Through all these activities, the professorship aims to contribute to socially inclusive innovations for the circular transition and energy transition in Noord-Brabant, based on interdisciplinary research.

Cooperation between professorships

The Professorship on Circular Transition will also be responsible for harmonising research programmes with and cooperation between existing professorships that form part of the schools participating in the FECT:

  • Professorship The Entrepreneurial Region (FHEC): research into factors for economic success in the economic regions Brainport and Midpoint;
  • Professorship Applied Natural Sciences (FHTNW): research into the properties of materials and energy technology in the following Special Interest Groups (SIGs):
  1. SIG Solar Fuels: research into innovative forms of energy storage;
  2. SIG Thin Films and Functional Materials: among others research into energy savings from special coatings on glass;
  3. SIG Polymers: research into properties of polymers;
  4. SIG Sustainable Process Technology: maximum sustainability in product manufacture;
  • Professorship Humans and Technology (FHHRM&Psych): research into social acceptance of technical innovations;
  • Professorship Thought Leadership (FHEC): research into the positioning of organisations at the interface between business and society with innovative thoughts and ideas;
  • Professorship Media, Interaction and Narration (FHJ) is investigating the influence of technology on the transfer of information and story telling, with a focus on conceptual innovation.

Professor Jifke Sol

The Centre of Expertise Circular Transitions has observed that people lack a clear idea of the types of technology in which they are willing and able to invest. In part this is due to a lack of a clear understanding and knowledge of the social, technical and economic picture. “The professorship aims to support entrepreneurs in the regional manufacturing industry in their decision making process, by boosting their resilience with practical knowledge and guidance,” suggested Professor Jifke Sol.

The most remarkable feature of the professorship Circular Transitions is that it brings together a multidisciplinary team, with a professor and three research assistants, to consider the societal issues from a social, economic and engineering angle. The aim is to analyse and find answers to the questions about the energy transition, social innovation and the circular economy, in collaboration with networks of entrepreneurs, individual citizens and government organisations. The professorship also aims to create hybrid learning environments in which enthusiastic students and lecturing staff can contribute their ideas and new solutions, and design sets of recommendations to offer customised solutions on a local scale. The idea is that entrepreneurs, individual citizens and government organisations, as well as researchers, are able to gain access to these living labs, so that knowledge and ideas can be successfully brought together. The key task is to identify the factors that assist or form obstacles to circular transitions.

Social innovative learning process

As a new professor, Jifke Sol is the first point of contact and a linchpin, in particular for the SME sector in Brabant, for initiatives and questions relating to knowledge in the field of energy transition, the circular economy and social innovation. Sol has a background in research into success factors and counselling in complex regional collaborative programmes aimed at sustainability. She views these forms of cooperation as a social innovative learning process in which people achieve small advances, through trial and error. “The ambition is to promote circular thinking, and to view raw materials and energy as resources that can have multiple value. Circular thinking for example means carefully considering the social impact of your ideas and your behaviour. Favouring a circular economy can mean that instead of thinking purely in terms of profit, you also think in terms of sharing and multiplication, for example through shared used, as is already taking place with shared electric cars. In other words, it is a matter of thinking differently and acting differently.”

“I realise that we are still very much at the start of this social transition but at the same time I have been watching the shoots of new sustainability germinate around me, for a number of years. Via this professorship, I hope to join the entire team in delivering a boost that will help strengthen these new developments by bringing together researchers, entrepreneurs, education and government in their efforts to arrive at a circular future”, concluded Sol.