FAQ

We are available to come and deliver training. Please take a look at our training page for more information, and get in touch to discuss your needs. Please note that we are based in Manchester, UK.

Right now, only if you are in the North West of England! We can travel within the UK (and possibly further). Please do get in touch to discuss with us. Also get in touch if you are interested in becoming a RoundView trainer.

We would be pleased for you to make use of our materials. Please get in touch with us and discuss how you wish to use them. We are currently working on guidance for using the materials. These will help people to deliver their own training, whilst helping to preserve the integrity of the ideas and messages that are associated with the term ‘RoundView’. Perhaps you could help us trial this emerging guidance?

Our aim is to develop a global community of practice so that we can all learn from each others’ experience in using the RoundView.

What we ask is that you do not present yourself as an ‘official RoundView trainer’. Accredited training to become an official RoundView trainer is not yet in place. Do get in touch if you are interested in such training.

The RoundView has already been integrated into several courses in the School of Environment and Development at the University of Manchester (first year Environment and Society, second year Settlement Project, post-graduate Planning for Environmental Change and Development Practice). Feedback has been very positive, with students seeing this as a way for them to see the bigger picture of their course, and a practical tool for applying sustainability ideas to their projects.

One-off RoundView sessions have also been taught at high schools in California and the North-West of England.

We are keen to see the RoundView integrated into many more courses at all levels. As discussed under the FAQ about training, we are working on guidance that will lead people through the key points, to make it easier to teach the RoundView and to make sure that the integrity and clarity of the RoundView framework is maintained.

One aim of the RoundView is to create a shared language to foster understanding and communication, so it is important that the key ideas are explained clearly and consistently. We are looking forward to learning from different people as they adapt the framework into their teaching.

So if you are interested in using RoundView in your teaching, please get in touch!

We are working on making the hands-on tools widely available. Please do get in touch, as we should be able to sell tools soon and would like to know what you are interested in.

We have gone through many rounds of developing these graphics, working with a variety of artists and colleagues to develop and critique the ideas. The aim was to create accessible graphics that clearly convey the principles of the RoundView. Each piece of the graphic image contains an important part of the story. The idea behind the graphics is to make it easier for many people to teach the RoundView, and for the graphics to help people to understand and remember the Guidelines and their underlying principles.

For example, the mushroom symbolises the role of decomposers, breaking down ‘waste’ materials back into the building blocks of life. The outer circle of the ecocycle is mimicked by the inner circle of the technical loop, in which technical materials are constantly reused. This begs the question – what serves the role of the decomposers in the technical cycle?

Cntact us or post the suggestion on our forums. From the beginning, we have seen the RoundView as an open framework. We are keen to explore new ways to train and use the RoundView. Any changes to the materials and the way they are presented need to be made within an understanding of the core principles and scientific ideas that underpin the RoundView, as these are essential to the value of the framework as a systematic tool for evaluating actions.

The fact that the RoundView is based on core principles dopes not, however, prevent dialogue about ways it could be improved!

The RoundView’s definition of sustainability is “All people thriving, now and into the future”.

The RoundView Guidelines encourage a shift away from seeing consumption as a linear use of materials, towards perceiving it as a cyclic process. We need to think about how materials can be used over and over, so we gain value from their use, and then either return them to the eco-cycle so that nature can ‘add value’ again, or keep them in closed cycles of re-use in the ‘technical loop’. Whilst thinking of material flows, it is important to consider the ecosystems that are the engines of ‘adding value’ back to the material flows.

The RoundView Guidelines include the need to increase people’s capability to meet their needs worldwide; if this is not happening, the Guidelines are not being met.

To learn more about the Guidelines and the RoundView’s take on sustainability, take a look at our free learning resources.

The ‘technical loop’ is a term adopted by the RoundView to describe a closed system for the constant re-use of technical nutrients, as distinct from ‘biological nutrients’, or materials that are not readily broken down into the building blocks of life.

The key distinction between technical and biological nutrients is a core idea of the circular economy, inspired by Cradle 2 Cradle and Industrial Ecology. The term technical loop refers to the systems, infrastructure and business processes that will be required to enable the constant cycling of technical nutrients at a high material quality. The image below shows the guidelines of the RoundView, and the purple loop is the technical loop – referring to the guideline ‘keep any poisons in the technical loop’.

The ‘technical loop’ is depicted in purple, shown as distinct from the ‘ecocycle’.

The RoundView has built upon the rigour, research and systems thinking of The Natural Step, and owes a great debt to this valuable work. The key difference is that in the RoundView, there is a systematic and rigorous formulation of a set of positive Guidelines. These can be seen as polar opposites to the ‘Misguided Lines’ – which show us what we need to stop doing. Developing a set of Guidelines and Misguided Lines that could act as poles enabled us to develop the RoundView evaluation tool (which is designed to enable a systematic way of evaluating if something is heading towards or away from whole system sustainability). In the Natural Step, sustainability principles are formulated as not violating the system conditions for sustainability. There is no distinct, positive formulation of what we should be working towards.

The first two Misguided lines of the RoundView (Overwhelm and Poison) are reformulations of the first two system conditions of The Natural Step. This emerged from an attempt to improve accessibility and to develop a set of clear graphics that showed the concepts of how we act unsustainably on a whole system level, whilst maintaining the robustness of the links between the Guidelines and the underlying scientific principles that have been clearly identified and described in The Natural Step. The RoundView Misguided Lines looking at material flows focus more on the mechanism of harm than on the the source of the materials, which is what the Natural Step’s system conditions focus on.

To read more about these difference, you might like to read this report from the research that helped develop the RoundView: Scaling-up – Learning to embed sustainability skills and knowledge in the workplace.

The RoundView was originally developed to act as a supplement to ecological design processes, to serve as a guide as to whether ecological design ideas were actually making improvements in terms of sustainability. Recently, it has been taught on permaculture courses as a way to deepen participants’ knowledge of sustainability and to help them develop skills in how to test ideas against the big picture (or how to ‘take a round view’).

The RoundView does not replace other environmental management tools, but is a supplement to support them. It can be seen as offering a compass to see if we are going in the right direction, and acts as a framework for decision making. Other environmental management tools may, for example, help in integrating processes and procedures into work practice or developing detailed ideas in particular contexts.

This is very similar to The Natural Step, a key building block for the RoundView. A difference between the RoundView and The Natural Step is that the RoundView has a set of positive Guidelines that describe what we wish to move towards, in addition to a clear idea of what we are doing that is unsustainable.

Other tools and approaches will of course be necessary when seeking to apply the understanding gained from looking at things from a RoundView point of view. The RoundView provides a frame, a language, a set of broad constraints, within which we need to apply our design and change management tools to produce innovative solutions.

The problem is that so often when we ‘just get on with things’ we end up with a solution that solves one problem only to create another. A classic example of this is trying to replace fossil fuels with bio-fuels, to reduce carbon emissions. Without considering the bigger picture, this has led to a loss of biodiversity and reduction of food growing areas, leading to more social problems.

The RoundView provides a simple yet powerful framework for analysing such ideas, and testing them within an understanding of the big picture. The great value of the RoundView is that we do indeed know what we need to do to move in a positive direction, so we can ‘get on with things’ whilst also thinking about how they impact on the big picture. This gives a huge amount of room for creativity – and of course action! With the RoundView, we can be more confident that the action is actually going to improve things in the long run.

The RoundView offers a framework against which to evaluate actions and ideas to see whether or not they are moving in a sustainable direction. The idea is to enable people to evaluate possible ideas themselves. There is a huge scope for creativity and new ways to do things to move in a sustainable direction. We don’t want to limit people’s imagination, but rather to help people build the skills to test ideas against sustainability guidelines. We are also hoping the RoundView will enthuse people to apply these ideas in as many different ways as possible!

The RoundView is more about asking the right questions than providing the right answers. Every situation is different, needing the awareness and skills of the people who understand the context and details of that situation. The RoundView can serve as a kind of ‘checklist’ to evaluate our new designs and solutions, to help make sure they will be of benefit from a whole system point of view. Beyond that the details of any particular innovation or solution are deliberately outside the scope of the RoundView.

As we develop the learning resources on this site, we will be adding examples and case studies to show these ideas and illustrate the Guidelines with examples in more detail.

The development of the RoundView as a spin-off from several research projects and development projects since the mid 1990s. To see who has funded these projects, click here. For more information about the research and development projects, see our Background section. Early development and joining the dots between projects has been self-funded.

As of 2012, the RoundView is still funded on a project basis, with ongoing support from Ketso and the team. We are currently working on a project with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, which has enabled the development of the latest graphics for teaching the RoundView. If you are interested in working with us on further projects, please do get in touch!