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Curriculum integration of sustainability in engineering education – a national study of programme director perspectives

Ola Leifler (Linkopings Universitet, Linkoping, Sweden)
Jon-Erik Dahlin (Snowflake Education, Stockholm, Sweden)

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education

ISSN: 1467-6370

Article publication date: 4 June 2020

Issue publication date: 17 July 2020




This study aims to report on how programme directors address sustainability within engineering education at Swedish universities and engineering colleges.


The study was performed as a survey with follow-up interviews around the following core questions: to what extent do programme directors possess a deep understanding of the subject of sustainable development? Which are the core competencies in sustainable development that programme directors identify as important for their engineering students to acquire during their basic training? To what extent are those competencies integrated into engineering education today and what kind of support do programme directors receive from their department to integrate these competencies into the curriculum?


Programme directors believe that learning for sustainable development is important mainly based on their personal convictions. However, out of 10 potential learning objectives extracted from the literature, only four-six are implemented in degree programmes. Learning objectives and activities are not always aligned, as students are required to learn about interdisciplinary collaboration without working with students from other faculties. The programme directors receive some support from the department, but they express a need for additional support. Examples of support that they suggest are faculty training, efficient teaching material and incorporation of sustainability in the quality assessment instruments for degree programmes.


This study is the first comprehensive, national survey of what programme directors think about sustainability in higher education. Their views are important in the attempt to accelerate the integration of sustainability in higher education curricula.



Leifler, O. and Dahlin, J.-E. (2020), "Curriculum integration of sustainability in engineering education – a national study of programme director perspectives", International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Vol. 21 No. 5, pp. 877-894.



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