Universiteit Leiden

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Research project

Design for the Future: Wicked Environmental Problems in Sustainability and Health

How do we approach education that facilitates creative confidence for students that leads to innovative solutions to society’s present day and future sustainability challenges? This education research project tackles a sustainability dilemma faced by households in everyday life viz.

2020 - 2022
MJ Cho
Stichting Verpakking en Milieu
Leiden University Fund (LUF) Leiden University Fund (LUF)
  • The Hague Municipality
  • Vereniging Innovatieve Geneesmiddelen/ Bogin/Neprofarm/KNMP
  • Centre for Innovation - Leiden University

This education research project tackles a sustainability dilemma faced by households in everyday life viz.


Please contact Dr. Min Cho for more information, questions or remarks.

Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) and its packaging. HHW comprises hazardous waste from a number of household products, such as paint, garden pesticides, pharmaceuticals, and personal care products. Packaging in itself is constituted of different materials, including plastic, glass and cardboard, and is intimately associated with the HHW it contains. Studies estimate that average household waste contains about 50 kg of toxic material per household in Europe with 22% of the contents being leftover medication and 42% of the contents being unwanted batteries in the regular garbage. Although various national classification systems exist on HHW, due to lack of clarity and regulation, HWW are generally discarded alongside household waste. Hence, contrary to the notion that being sustainable at home is “easy”, household sustainability, like that associated with HHW, is rife with contradictions and uncertainty. 

Our education project aims to understand the learning effect of design thinking activities at Liberal Arts and Science college setting through the case study of HHW and its packaging. Community-based organizations and households will be invited to pose a vexing question of HWW and packaging to the students. To address this question and develop a problem statement, students will collect data, reach out to the community by involving local people in the design process, and to accept and adopt proposed solutions. As a course final, the students' results will be disseminated publicly as a community call-to-action. Our specific focus of the project is to explore students’ co-learning of sustainability practice skills and techniques of discovery which students can further utilise in their community-engaged household sustainability initiatives.

This education research project brings a broad expertise specifically in interdisciplinary research and pharmaceutical waste (Min J Cho) and sustainable development and mixed methods research (Annie Trevenen-Jones). The research activities at Leiden University College (LUC) span the spectrum of academic interests associated with liberal arts and sciences, and its themes cross various disciplinary boundaries. The interdisciplinary focus of our project brings together individuals with specialist knowledge and skills in the field of sustainability, public health,  and circular economy. All perspectives included in LUC's Global Challenge Programme of FGGA.

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