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How to educate engineers for/in sustainable development: Ten years of discussion, remaining challenges

Karel F. Mulder (Technology Dynamics and Sustainable Development, Delft University of Technology, Delft, The Netherlands)
Jordi Segalàs (School of Engineering of Vilanova i la Geltrú, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya – Barcelona Tech, Barcelona, Spain)
Didac Ferrer‐Balas (Institute of Sustainability, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya – Barcelona Tech, Barcelona, Spain)

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education

ISSN: 1467-6370

Article publication date: 6 July 2012

1691

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to analyse the process of changing engineering universities towards sustainable development (SD). It outlines the types of changes needed, both in respect of approaches, visions, philosophies and cultural change, which are crucial for engineering universities which want to implement sustainable development as part of their progammes.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper describes various experiences which show how SD education programmes can be implemented at universities, and some of the challenges faced in efforts towards achieving such a goal. It considers the various processes involved and raises some questions which can help to understand how universities, as learning organisations, can engage in the implementation of SD programmes.

Findings

The paper has established that engineers have to learn to think long term and position their activities in a pathway towards long‐term sustainable solutions. This requires insight into the social environment of engineering as a technology, and the extent to which engineers should know about the intricacies of SD problems.

Originality/value

The paper shows that engineers should understand the complexities of the societal setting in which they are developing solutions, and the complexities of making short‐term improvements that fit into a long‐term SD.

Keywords

Citation

Mulder, K.F., Segalàs, J. and Ferrer‐Balas, D. (2012), "How to educate engineers for/in sustainable development: Ten years of discussion, remaining challenges", International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Vol. 13 No. 3, pp. 211-218. https://doi.org/10.1108/14676371211242535

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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