Integrating SD into engineering courses at the Delft University of Technology: The individual interaction method

D.‐J. Peet (Faculty of Technology Policy and Management, Delft University of Technology, Delft, The Netherlands)
K.F. Mulder (Faculty of Technology Policy and Management, Delft University of Technology, Delft, The Netherlands )
A. Bijma (Arcana Consultancy, Delft, The Netherlands)

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education

ISSN: 1467-6370

Publication date: 1 September 2004

Abstract

When sustainable development (SD) is only taught in specific courses, it is questionable if engineering students are able to integrate it into their engineering practices and technical designs. For this reason, sustainability should also be integrated into regular engineering courses, e.g. design courses, materials courses or processing technology. The SD education plan adopted by the board of Delft University of Technology (DUT) in 1998 was based on this philosophy. It consists of three interconnected activities for all engineering curricula: the implementation of an elementary course “Technology in sustainable development”; the development of a graduation program in sustainable development for students who want to specialize; and the integration of sustainable development in all regular courses, wherever applicable. This paper describes various activities that the project group carried out to stimulate and support the third strategy: SD integration. It turned out that top‐down attempts to influence the content of courses often triggered resistance among lecturers, as they feared the intermingling of laymen into their scientific/engineering discipline. Interaction was important but was often impossible by lack of mutual understanding. Participation in a national project aimed to stimulate discussion by making disciplinary sustainability reviews of academic/engineering disciplines. This approach was promising as it created the base for serious discussions. However, the reports often ended in the bureaucracies of the departments. More positive results were achieved with a semi‐consultant approach directed at discussing SD issues with individual lecturers. Many lecturers were willing to discuss their courses, and were interested in practical ideas to integrate sustainability. This interactive approach is promising because it does not conflict with academic culture and keeps the lecturer in charge of his own course.

Keywords

Citation

Peet, D.‐., Mulder, K.F. and Bijma, A. (2004), "Integrating SD into engineering courses at the Delft University of Technology: The individual interaction method", International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Vol. 5 No. 3, pp. 278-288. https://doi.org/10.1108/14676370410546420

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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