Learning Cycles

What are “People-Centred Learning Cycles”?

“People-centred Learning Cycles” (PLCs) are the key innovative contribution of the PEOPLE project. They present a novel pedagogical approach bringing together students, university educators, business professionals, and users of products and services to foster balanced exchange of knowledge, skills, and experience. Applying different people-centred development approaches, local development teams of students, academic mentors, business professionals/mentors, and users will be cooperating in the development and testing of new industry solutions tailored to the needs of communities in the area of sustainable living. Interdisciplinary teams of students will be working on real-life business challenges to develop or improve the industry partners’ products and services.

What will we do in the PEOPLE project?

The project will implement and evaluate two 6-months learning cycles, the first cycle starting in Month 11 (September 2017) and the second in Month 23 (September 2018).

In each PLC, we will implement four Case Studies, each being a node of the project’s knowledge alliance and a partnership between the higher education/research institution and the industry partner. The four industry partners will also take over the role of Case Study Leaders, thus ensuring a business push towards realization of common goals (click on individual case studies for a more detailed description):

How will we do it?

In each country, we will identify and recruit 4 students at Masters (level 4) programmes (or higher) with diverse disciplinary backgrounds within sociology, psychology, anthropology, or related disciplines. Prior to the launch of PLCs, training in entrepreneurship will be provided to university staff, while training for business professionals will introduce research and development methods, case studies, and the potential of people-centred development approaches. Students will then engage in research with the local partner company, applying the identified people-centred development approaches and tools developed by the PEOPLE project. The students’ work will be jointly monitored by Academic and Industry Mentor (PEOPLE partners), who will provide guidance and feedback. At the end of each PLC, a Co-Creation Camp will be organised, bringing together students, academic and industry mentors from 4 participating countries to share and discuss the results and to present the methods and project results to an international external public from academic, research and business environment. The PEOPLE approach and methodology in different Case Studies will be thoroughly evaluated during and at the end of PLCs, finally combining and generalising the outcomes to guide the further refinement of PEOPLE results as well as to create lessons learned and best practices on implementing people-centred learning cycles.

What are the expected impacts of PLCs?

In terms of impact the case studies will:

  • coach students in adopting an applied perspective on theory and methods, by incorporating business requirements in research design;
  • enable students to carry out practical observations by working alongside company employees and gain qualitative insight in their daily work and business processes;
  • enable students to do participant observations and field-experiments in customer contexts (e.g. household, SMEs, larger industries etc.);
  • offer opportunity to contribute and expand customer-led tools that are already used and /or introduce new tools or methods;
  • bring practical and interdisciplinary experiences in the way theory and methods from social sciences can be applied in customer-led innovation.Overall, each specific People-centred learning cycle (PCL) will have an impact on 3 different segments:
  • Impact on Business (criteria: “Viable”): the results produced will be economically sustainable over time.
  • Impact on Technology (criteria: “Feasible”): the solution developed will be achievable through existing technology, best demonstrated through a working prototype.
  • Impact on People (criteria: “Desirable”): the solution will solve a key identified industry problem and will create a value for a group of stakeholders/customers/users.

4 Cases:


How can we use ethnography and other qualitative research methods to study IT solutions for energy efficiency in buildings? How to combine thick data with big data stored and analysed by an energy information system? How to plan and carry out a people-centred development and design process? More


In PEOPLE project’s first Learning Cycle in the UK, six taught postgraduate students will address research questions relating to the design and operation of telecare products and services, mentored jointly by Durham Energy Institute (Durham University) and industry partner Kemuri. More

DUTCH CASE-STUDY (VUA and Alliander)

In the Netherlands, our interdisciplinary team of four PEOPLE students (anthropology, sociology, and organisational studies) will focus on a bottom-up, neighbourhood-oriented approach in the transition to natural gas-free living, mentored jointly by PEOPLE partner organisations the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and company Alliander. More


In PEOPLE project’s 1st Learning Cycle, researchers at Charles University in Prague and their industry partner VÚPS launched a study on the efficiency of conservation interventions in administrative buildings.  More

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