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Life cycle assessment teaching innovation: experiences from a Brazilian higher education institution

Diogo Aparecido Lopes Silva (Department of Production Engineering, Research Group on Sustainability Engineering (EngS Group), Federal University of São Carlos (UFSCar), Sorocaba, Brazil)
Gabriela Giusti (Department of Production Engineering, Research Group on Sustainability Engineering (EngS Group), Federal University of São Carlos (UFSCar), Sorocaba, Brazil)
Izabela Simon Rampasso (Departamento de Ingeniería Industrial, Universidad Católica del Norte, Antofagasa, Chile)
Antonio Carlos Farrapo Junior (Department of Production Engineering, Research Group on Sustainability Engineering (EngS Group), Federal University of São Carlos (UFSCar), Sorocaba, Brazil)
Rosley Anholon (School of Mechanical Engineering, State University of Campinas, Campinas, Brazil)

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education

ISSN: 1467-6370

Article publication date: 15 September 2022

Issue publication date: 24 January 2023

196

Abstract

Purpose

The inclusion of sustainability in higher education courses has been debated in recent decades and has gained particular emphasis throughout the COVID-19. This paper aims to show how the context of the pandemic, which demanded the transition from in-person classes to virtual classes, was used to illustrate better the concepts of life cycle assessment (LCA) for Production Engineering students in a Brazilian University.

Design/methodology/approach

The research strategy used was action research. Throughout the discipline offering, the environmental impacts resulting from in-person and remote classes were comparatively assessed through a practical activity using LCA. Students’ behaviour and perception of the activities were recorded by the professor and discussed with the other researchers on the team. At the end of the course, students answered a questionnaire to assess their satisfaction with different aspects of the discipline, and these data were analysed via Fuzzy Delphi.

Findings

The results focus on discussing the pedagogical aspects of this experience and not the environmental impacts resulting from each class modality. It was possible to notice a greater engagement of students when using a project that directly involved their daily activities (food, transportation, use of electronics, etc.) compared to the traditional approach of teaching LCA concepts. In this traditional approach, the examples focussed on the industrial sector, a more distant context from the reality of most students. Student feedback demonstrated great acceptance by them regarding the approach adopted.

Originality/value

This study contributes to expanding debates about sustainability insertion in higher education and the training of professionals more aligned with the sustainable development agenda.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq), under the grants 304145/2021-1, and 302722/2019–0; by the Fundação de Amparo á Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo (FAPESP), under the grant 2021/06685-1; and by the Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior – Brasil (CAPES) – Finance Code 001.

Citation

Silva, D.A.L., Giusti, G., Rampasso, I.S., Farrapo Junior, A.C. and Anholon, R. (2023), "Life cycle assessment teaching innovation: experiences from a Brazilian higher education institution", International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Vol. 24 No. 2, pp. 449-461. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJSHE-08-2021-0357

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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