Course theme

Type of course


Environmental and Resource Economics – Module: Circular Economy

  • 15 - 19 November 2021
  • Wageningen Campus
  • Social Sciences & Economics


The course “Environmental and Resource Economics” is offered as different independent modules.
Upcoming modules cover circular economy, climate economics, and behavioural environmental economics

Why is there so much waste? Can or should it be reduced? By how much – and why, in the first place? The module “Circular Economy” picks up these questions. Reduction of waste, reduction of primary resource extraction, and increasing resource use efficiency are high on the political agenda of the EU and its member states. While much of the debate is about enhancing technologies that facilitate reuse, repair and recycling of goods, this course examines the economic rationale of the circular economy. The course offers an introduction to Hotelling’s model of efficient intertemporal resource extraction, an extension of the model to the waste sector, and the development of some generic economic models of recycling. We will explore what drives the strength of rebound effects, i.e. the question whether (and to what extent) recycling can indeed foster resource conservation. Such questions are addressed with tools for dynamic optimization. In the course will introduce optimal control theory and use it to develop models of extraction and recycling.

Assessment method

  • Assessment is based on a group paper (3000-5000) words, where 2-3 student co-author a paper; based on the group papers and active participation in class students can earn 2 ECTS. Deadline for this assignment= 26th of November
  • It is possible to extend the course to 3 ECTS by writing up an individual research note (max. 2000 words – Economics Letters style)

Textbook / Course materials

  • Conrad & Rondeau (2020) Natural Resource Economics. Cambridge University Press. (Please get your own copy)
  • Selected articles (available from electronic libraries)

Learning goals

At the end of this course the student

  • understands the economic interconnections between resources, recycling and waste;
  • understands economic feedback effects that are relevant in the circular economy,
  • can set up economic models of material flows,
  • has experience with optimal control models for dynamic optimisation
  • can solve a base model of resource use and recycling analytically and numerically using mathematical software.
  • can interpret model outcomes and discuss implications for resource and waste policies.



  • Meaning and scope of “circular economy”
  • Resource use efficiency; Hotelling’s extraction model
  • Waste generation as an extraction problem
  • Resource economic models of recycling
    –   Recycling from a flow
    –   Recycling from a stock
  • Rebound effects of recycling
  • Circularity in General Equilibrium Models


  • Dynamic optimization
  • Analytical optimal control models
  • Numerical simulation models
  • Computable General Equilibrium Models (CGE)

Target group

The course “Environmental and Resource Economics” is meant for PhD students in economics and environmental sciences. The general level of assumed knowledge is “intermediate” in the domain of microeconomics; master level courses in environmental economics and/or natural resource economics are an advantage. Good knowledge of calculus is required. Beyond that the course is self-contained. Essential models of resource economics on which the builds will be introduced in the lectures. If in doubt whether this course is suitable for you, please send an email to the coordinator of the respective module.

Course duration

The module is taught in Wageningen (WUR) in one week in November 2021. It comprises classroom teaching on four mornings (lectures, exercises, group work), Monday-Thursday. Friday morning is reserved for feedback moments. The afternoons are available for self-study and group work.

Credit points

2-3 ECTS
For 2 ECTS: 16 hours preparation ±20 hours afternoon self-study and group work, including finalising the paper
For 3 ECTS: It is possible to extend the course to 3 ECTS by writing up an individual research note (max. 2000 words – Economics Letters style). See explanation at Scope


  • WIMEK/PE&RC/WASS/EPS/VLAG/WIAS PhD candidates with TSP and postdocs of these graduate schools: early bird: € 250.00; regular € 290.00
  • Other SENSE PhD candidates and postdocs: early bird € 500.00; regular € 540.00
  • MSC students UU: € 500.00; € 540.00
  • All other PhD candidates and postdocs: early bird € 500.00; regular € 580.00
  • Staff and fellows of WUR Graduate Schools and the other graduate schools mentioned above: early bird € 500.00; regular € 580.00
  • All others: early bird € 620.00; regular € 660.00

Cancellation conditions

Up to October 1st cancellation is free of charge.
Up to twee weeks prior to the start of the course (November 1st), a fee of early bird reduced fee will be charged.

After this date you will be charged the full registration fee, unless:

  • You can find someone to replace you in the course and supply the course coordinator with the name and contact information of your replacement.
    In this case you will only be charged a € 50,- cancellation fee.
  • You have a valid reason to cancel (illness or death in the family 1st or 2nd degree; Corona travel restrictions).
    Your supervisor/PI must send a mail indicating the reason for cancellation.
    In this case you will only be charged a € 50,- cancellation fee.


Organisational questions:;
For content based questions:


  • WIMEK, Wageningen University on behalf of WASS & SENSE
  • Hans-Peter Weikard (WU) and Jan Brusselaers (VU)
  • 12-25 participants