As many of our readers know, the Life Cycle Initiative has an online course on Life Cycle Thinking. This course is for anyone who wants to learn more about life cycle thinking and how it can inform sound decision-making. We interviewed Rima Manneh, Associate Professor and chairperson of the chemical engineering department at the University of Balamand, Lebanon, to learn more about her experience using the e-learning course as part of her teaching.

Rima explained that her course “Environmental Design and Life Cycle Assessment” introduces students to the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology and teaches them how to determine the environmental impacts of products. These students are pursuing a graduate degree in chemical engineering; most are not familiar with life cycle thinking or environmental footprint assessment. The University of Balamand was a pioneer in introducing such a course for the Lebanese context.

Rima began the course with a general introduction to life cycle thinking including why it’s important, its benefits to industries, etc. Once students understood the basic concepts, she asked them to complete the e-learning course, noting how excited the students were to discover this interactive tool. “My students really enjoyed it! And the motivation of getting a certificate at the end was an additional bonus”, Rima said. “Not only did the certificate demonstrate that the students had successfully completed the life cycle online course, but it also allows them to put it in their CV.”

To have a place in the regional and global markets, it is increasingly important for Lebanese industries to assess the environmental footprint of a particular product. “When I first started talking about LCA a while ago, people didn’t understand its relevance,” Rima explained. “Now, green products are becoming more popular and LCA is gaining ground. It’s important that we train our young people to think from a “life cycle perspective” and apply life cycle thinking to increase environmental awareness”.

Given the positive feedback from her students, Rima will be talking to other professors about how they could use the e-learning modules. For Rima, the e-learning course has three selling points: 1) it provides important baseline information for those not familiar with the life cycle thinking concept; 2) the certificate is a powerful motivator and students appreciate getting recognition for completing the online course; and 3) the accompanying videos are helpful for her own work.

Dr. Rima Manneh is an Associate Professor and Chairperson of the Chemical Engineering Department at the University of Balamand (Lebanon). Her career spans a decade in academia, working on topics such as the life cycle assessment of Lebanese industrial products and renewable energy strategies. You can reach her at: [email protected]