Circularity Impact Program: An NSF Research Traineeship at the University of Minnesota

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Funded by the National Science Foundation, the Circularity Impact Program supports policy and STEM graduate students in understanding and engaging in sustainability problems and remediations from different perspectives through graduate coursework, internships, and community engagement experiences led by an Artist in Residence. The Circularity Impact Program trains graduate students in the circular use of water, energy, and materials and integrates the study of policy and engineering/science. This interdisciplinary program seeks to educate a new generation of diverse circularity professionals through a combination of internshipscutting-edge research, and community and classroom interactions led by an Artist-in-Residence to enhance the trainees’ positive societal impact through critical reflection, creative collaboration, and social engagement. These training efforts will benefit society by leading to new technologies, policy and economic instruments, methods, and implementation strategies for the circular use of resources.

Benefits to students selected to be NRT Trainees

  • Competitive stipends available
  • Financial support to travel, attend conferences, and/or cover costs associated with stakeholder discovery
  • Support in finding three to six month internships
  • Gain practical skills in preparation for a wide range of careers
  • An incredible opportunity to be in an interdisciplinary cohort program that includes coursework, leadership training, and working with an Artist in Residence
  • Opportunity to present at an annual symposium
  • Extensive network of partners
How do circular economies impact communities?

Water, Energy, and Material Circularity

Prospective and current UMN graduate students in engineering, science, public policy, and urban planning are invited to apply for the NRT program, "Cultural Change and Social Equity as Drivers for Convergent Research in Water and Material Circularity" otherwise known as the Circularity Impact Program. Benefits of this unique, interdisciplinary program for graduate students include various levels of funding, program-specific coursework, an integrated internship, and workshops on a variety of applicable skills hosted by an embedded Artist in Residence.

Everyone eligible is welcome to apply, and we encourage women, BIPOC, students with disabilities, and Veterans to apply for the NRT program before their second year of graduate study.

How To Apply


The Circularity Impact Program re-envisions resource use as circular, decreasing risk and enhancing global standards of living and environmental quality. To truly create a circular world, we need a different approach. We need the combined effort of scientists, engineers, cultural leaders, policy makers, industry, and communities to observe, collaborate, and think critically and creatively. Those implementing circular solutions must be able to work cooperatively with stakeholders and community members, learning from the inherent knowledge of diverse cultures. Through changes in graduate education, a true circular system of resource use and waste reuse is possible.

The program goals are: (1) develop curricula in circularity systems and knowledge impact; (2) advance STEM-based research and education; (3) integrate internships and mentorship; (4) discover broad perspectives and explore impact identity; and (5) build critical skills to achieve circular solutions.

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