Universiteit Leiden

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From bioart to a biobased economy

After studying Life Science and Technology, David Louwrier conducted his PhD research at LUCAS about bioart and societal debates around biotechnology. Now that his PhD thesis has been submitted, David is developing educational material about the societal aspects of the biobased economy.

Why we need a transition towards a more biobased economy
It is clear that our current economy is completely unsustainable, since it is based on ending resources such as oil and gas. We therefore see a gradual shift towards a different energy system, with solar panels and wind turbines, which will not be sufficient to fulfil the current energy demands. We are however also completely dependent on oil for materials. Not only plastics, but nearly every product that we use has some synthetic fossil based elements in it. While we are burning almost 100 million barrels of oil a day, we are also losing the resources that we need to create these materials.

E-modules on societal aspects of the Bio based Economy
A possible long term solution is an economy based on biological components that can be grown and regrown, a “Biobased Economy” (BBE). There are various technological and scientific projects in which new processes are developed to reach a sustainable situation. It is however imperative that the societal components of such an all-encompassing transition are not neglected. The future stakeholders will have to be involved as early as possible, and one of the ways to do this is through schooling. However, in vocational education (the Dutch Hogeschool system), there appears to be a lack of teaching materials that explain the societal aspects of the BBE.

David Louwrier: ‘I am developing teaching materials in a collaboration between BioSolar Cells (for whom I conducted my PhD research) and the Centre for Biobased Economy. The material is placed on the educational platform “wikiwijs”, where lecturers can use it free of charge. One of the advantages of this platform is that it is easy to make interactive modules, and make use of digital media as well. This material will in a later stage also be applicable for high school students.’

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