Course Meeting Times

Seminars: 3 sessions / week, 2 hours / session


None. Limited to 16 students.


Understand the multiple dimensions of the global waste system. Learn from experts working in the field including researchers, waste-pickers and city planners.

This introductory course focuses on understanding some of the multiple dimensions of waste generation and management. Topics are presented in real contexts through case studies, field visits, civic engagement and research, and include consumer culture, waste streams, waste management, entrepreneurship and innovation on waste, technology evaluation, downcycling / upcycling, Life Cycle Analysis and waste assessment.

Labs include building low-cost, small scale technology, field trips to waste-related institutions and businesses, art workshops and e-waste scrapping taught by practitioners, artists and waste enthusiasts.

This class aims to build a community that supports students to:

  • Gain a better understanding and appreciation for the formidable challenges related with waste management locally and abroad: Difficult waste streams, rising consumer culture, increasing ecosystems pollution, lack of infrastructure and more.
  • Gain more experience in technology, society and art projects related with the problematic of waste through a project-based approach.
  • Act on important waste issues through building technology (design), civic engagement (dialogue) or artistic expressions (dissemination).

Collaboration and Academic Integrity

This class features a distribution of work ranging from individual assignments to group endeavors. We believe that collaboration is an essential skill in both education and innovation. We encourage students to discuss ideas with each other on all assignments and explicitly expect collaborative effort on some assignments (e.g. the team project). For individual written assignments, the standard rules apply: Your writing must be your own (or else offset in quotes and clearly cited) and your ideas must be either original or clearly attributed. If in doubt, give credit where it might be due.

Course Evolution

This is the fourth time this course has been offered and, as it happened last year, your input will be crucial to keep shaping it! Your comments and feedback are always appreciated, whether verbal or in writing, and we will make space for individual and group check-ins during the semester to discuss how the class is going.

Credit & Grading

D-Lab: Waste is approximately 5 hours / week in class and labs, and 4 hours / week on project work, readings and reflections. Each student’s presence in class is important, as most sessions involve in-class team work, discussion, and exercises. If there is an occasion where you need to miss any portion of class, please notify one of the instructors in advance to make arrangements.

This course is graded on an A / B / C / D / F basis.

Note: EC.716 / EC.786 has no final exam.

Assistance & engagement 20%
In-class presentations (1) 20%
Final project 30%
Reflection writings (3) 15%
Waste tech designs (3) 15%