Thomas Budde Christensen: "Basically, we think we're helping to save the planet"

Associate Professor of Environmental Innovation Thomas Budde Christensen works closely with the construction sector and industry to find ways to reduce resource consumption and increase recycling. He can think of no more important field of research than this, and he is delighted to meet former students who are now in key environmental policy positions, creating concrete change.
Thomas Budde Christensen
Video with subtitles in English.

Where do you feel you have made the biggest difference with your research?

- Fortunately, I often find that things are done in a new and better way as a result of the projects we do.  For example, I have participated in a large EU project, City Loops, where seven European cities have worked on recycling building materials. In Denmark, we worked with the municipality of Høje Taastrup, and this led to them reusing some of the building materials when they demolished some large blocks of apartments. The materials were then incorporated into their new town hall. So, this project has helped to recycle many tonnes of building materials, and in this way the tools and methods we are developing are helping to improve our consumption of resources.

- I also think I make a big difference in teaching, where I get to educate and follow the development of some young people before they go out to perform very vital functions in our society. The people we train will later make energy policy and prepare action plans in ministries, and sometimes I get to meet them as part of my research and work with them afterwards. That gives me great pleasure. It's great to see that the people we have trained are actually out in society making a difference.

- For me, there is no more important issue in the world, because it is about how we can become more climate-friendly and how we can care for the planet.

Why did you choose to do research at Roskilde University?

- As a workplace and an organisation, RUC is a great place to work because we have a relatively flat structure, with a short route to management if you have new ideas. A few years ago, for example, we established an interdisciplinary research centre for circular economy, CIRCLES, which I head myself, and we were able to pitch it to the management quite quickly and obtain funding for it. You may be able to do that elsewhere, but I think we're really good at it here at RUC.

- I also feel that we have a great deal of research freedom. We are trusted to define the most relevant topics ourselves, and this allows us to do society-driven research that actually makes a difference to the world around us. And I have extremely talented colleagues, who are passionate about what they do. We basically think we're helping to save the planet, and it's not a 9-to-5 job for us. We are very interdisciplinary and we always try to bridge the gap between the social and the natural sciences, although it would certainly be much easier if we were all in the same core discipline. But the most exciting interdisciplinarity comes when you work with someone who sees the world fundamentally differently than you do.


Thomas Budde Christensen
RUC baggrundsgrafik

"The most exciting interdisciplinarity comes when you work with someone who sees the world fundamentally differently than you do.”

About Thomas Budde Christensen

  • Researcher in circular economy, i.e. how we as a society can use our resources in the most efficient way. For example, how can we reduce or recycle the waste generated in construction and industry, and how can we minimise the resources that go into production.
  • He graduated from Roskilde University. He has a background in social sciences, but today he also works on technical issues. In most projects, he collaborates with authorities, industry organisations, private companies and often foreign researchers.