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Article
Publication date: 31 May 2022

Fethiye Ozis, Shannon Lynn Isovitsch Parks, Deborah Lynne Sills, Mustafa Akca and Christine Kirby

This paper aims to analyze how a tangram activity improved students’ abilities to explain sustainability, articulate a positive perception of sustainable design and relate…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to analyze how a tangram activity improved students’ abilities to explain sustainability, articulate a positive perception of sustainable design and relate sustainability with innovation in engineering design.

Design/methodology/approach

The concept of paradigm shift was introduced in the classroom by using a tangram activity to help students understand that sustainable design requires out-of-the-box thinking. Instructors from three institutions teaching various levels of sustainability courses to engineering majors used the activity to introduce sustainable design, then measured the understanding and appreciation of the concepts introduced through the tangram activity with pre- and post-activity surveys.

Findings

Findings from the study indicate that students’ perceptions of sustainability significantly improved due to the activity, without regard to the institution. The activity also significantly improved students understanding of the connection between sustainability and innovation, across all three institutions, across all majors and across all years of study except second-year students. Improving engineering students’ views on sustainability may lead, over time, to changes in the industry, in which environmental performance is incorporated into the engineering design process.

Originality/value

Active learning approaches are needed for affective-domain learning objectives in the sustainability field for students to learn the necessary attitudes, values and motivations to implement sustainability in engineering design. Simple, easily implemented active learning techniques, such as the tangram activity presented here, can be implemented across the curriculum or to the public to introduce the paradigm shift necessary with sustainable design.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 23 no. 8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 30 May 2019

Usman Umar Akeel, Sarah Jayne Bell and John E. Mitchell

The purpose of this study is to present an assessment of the sustainability content of the Nigerian engineering curriculum in universities.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to present an assessment of the sustainability content of the Nigerian engineering curriculum in universities.

Design/methodology/approach

Content analysis is used to generate and analyse data from three engineering documents, namely, the Benchmark Minimum Academic Standards for Engineering Programmes in Nigeria and the engineering handbooks of two Nigerian higher education institutions.

Findings

The Nigerian engineering curriculum is revealed to have a low sustainability content, with environmental concepts being the most cited themes and social topics as the least stated issues.

Research limitations/implications

The sustainability assessment approach adopted in the study is constrained by the question of what constitutes a sustainability syllabus. Expert-derived sustainability themes used in the study are unavoidably incomplete and may limit the conduct of an exhaustive sustainability content assessment.

Practical implications

Based on the research outcome, the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria and other stakeholders can consider ways to adequately incorporate sustainability themes in the Nigerian engineering curriculum.

Originality/value

The research is an effort to determine the presence of sustainability issues in the Nigerian engineering education, which has hitherto been scarcely documented. This study provides a baseline and a rationale for sustainability education interventions in the Nigerian engineering curriculum. It also presents a methodology for analysing sustainability content in university curriculum and contributes to the continuing sustainability education discourse, especially in relation to sub-Saharan Africa.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 20 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 12 April 2022

Jared France, Julie Milovanovic, Tripp Shealy and Allison Godwin

This paper aims to explore the differences in first-year and senior engineering students’ engineering agency beliefs and career goals related to sustainable development…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to explore the differences in first-year and senior engineering students’ engineering agency beliefs and career goals related to sustainable development. The authors also sought to understand how topics related to sustainable development in engineering courses affect senior engineering students’ goals to address these issues in their careers. This work provides evidence of how students’ agency beliefs may be shaped by higher education, which is essential to workforce development.

Design/methodology/approach

Findings stem from two national surveys of engineering first-year (Sustainability and Gender in Engineering, n = 7,709) and senior students (Student Survey about Career Goals, College Experiences, n = 4,605). The authors compared both groups using pairwise testing by class standing.

Findings

The results indicate that undergraduate studies tend to reinforce students’ engineering agency beliefs to improve their quality of life and preserve the environment. Significantly more senior students selected career goals to address environmental issues compared to first-year students. In general, students undervalue their roles as engineers in addressing issues related to social inequities. Those topics are rarely addressed in engineering courses. Findings from this work suggest discussing sustainability in courses positively impact setting career goals to address such challenges.

Research limitations/implications

The study compares results from two distinct surveys, conveyed at different periods. Nonetheless, the sample size and national spread of respondents across US colleges and universities are robust to offer relevant insights on sustainable development in engineering education.

Practical implications

Adapting engineering curriculum by ensuring that engineering students are prepared to confront global problems related to sustainable development in their careers will have a positive societal impact.

Social implications

This study highlights shortcomings of engineering education in promoting social and economic sustainability as related to the engineering field. Educational programs would benefit from emphasizing the interconnectedness of environmental, social and economic dimensions of sustainable development. This approach could increase diversity in engineering education and the industry, and by ripple effect, benefit the communities and local governance.

Originality/value

This work is a first step toward understanding how undergraduate experiences impact students’ engineering agency beliefs and career goals related to sustainability. It explores potential factors that could increase students’ engineering agency and goals to make a change through engineering.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 1 June 2004

Carol Boyle

The teaching of sustainability to engineers will follow similar paths to that of environmental engineering. There is a strong feeling that environmental engineering is a…

2693

Abstract

The teaching of sustainability to engineers will follow similar paths to that of environmental engineering. There is a strong feeling that environmental engineering is a discipline unto itself, requiring knowledge of chemistry, physics, biology, hydrology, toxicology, modelling and law. However, environmental engineering can also be encompassed within other disciplines; for example, solar and wind power are often taught in electrical or mechanical engineering; pollution control is taught in chemical engineering; and recycling technologies are taught in both chemical and mechanical engineering. The understanding of sustainability engineering, however, requires a greater maturity than that of most engineering disciplines. Although the basics of this concept can be understood by anyone, the ability to understand the complex systems which exist within the environment and society as well as the constraints on those systems is only beginning to emerge at the fourth year or graduate level. Moreover, the elements necessary to achieve sustainability are derived from all aspects of engineering and, like environmental engineering, all engineering disciplines have strong roles to play in achieving sustainability. However, there is also a fundamental discourse that can be taught as a discipline in sustainability engineering. Discusses aspects of such a programme and outlines the requirements for educating engineers in sustainability.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 5 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 1 June 2003

Sabah A. Abdul‐Wahab, Mahmood Y. Abdulraheem and Melanie Hutchinson

Environmental degradation is a global concern and an increasing one. Increasing population pressures, escalating consumption patterns and rapid industrial development are…

14182

Abstract

Environmental degradation is a global concern and an increasing one. Increasing population pressures, escalating consumption patterns and rapid industrial development are key contributors to this degradation. There is a growing recognition that sustainable development policies, plans and actions have a better chance of being implemented when they are supported by an educated, informed public. The objective of this paper is to highlight the need for the inclusion of environmental education into the curricula of engineering studies in order to raise environmental awareness at an early stage in their careers. The main aim of such environmental education is to provide engineers with the background to environmental issues such that they develop solutions that take into account the needs of the natural environment and which seek to minimise any negative impact.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 4 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 27 February 2020

Renee M. Clark, Lisa M. Stabryla and Leanne M. Gilbertson

The purpose of this study was to assess particular student outcomes when design thinking was integrated into an environmental engineering course. The literature is…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study was to assess particular student outcomes when design thinking was integrated into an environmental engineering course. The literature is increasingly promoting design thinking for addressing societal and environmental sustainability engineering challenges. Design thinking is a human-centered approach that identifies needs upfront.

Design/methodology/approach

In an undergraduate engineering course, Design for the Environment, students have begun to obtain hands-on experience in applying design thinking to sustainability challenges. This case study investigates the association between the use of design thinking and student creativity with sustainability design solutions. Student perspectives on their own creativity and future sustainable design practices as a result of the course were also investigated.

Findings

The findings were favorable for design thinking, being associated with a significant difference and medium-to-large effect with regards to solution novelty. A qualitative analysis showed a positive association between design thinking and students’ perceptions of their creativity and future anticipated sustainability practices. Using a content analysis of reflective writings, students’ application of design thinking was assessed for comprehensiveness and correctness. A two-week introductory design-thinking module and significant use of in-class active learning were the course elements that most notably impacted students’ use of design thinking.

Practical implications

This case study preliminarily demonstrates that application of design thinking within an environmental engineering course may be associated with beneficial outcomes related to creativity and sustainability.

Originality/value

A review of the literature did not uncover studies of the use of design thinking for undergraduate socio-environmental challenges to promote creativity and sustainable-practices outcomes, although the literature has been calling for the marrying of these two areas.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 21 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 4 October 2019

Cassiano Moro Piekarski, Fábio Neves Puglieri, Cristiane Karyn de Carvalho Araújo, Murillo Vetroni Barros and Rodrigo Salvador

The purpose of this paper is to report on a life cycle assessment (LCA)-based ecodesign teaching practice via university-industry collaboration in an industrial engineering

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to report on a life cycle assessment (LCA)-based ecodesign teaching practice via university-industry collaboration in an industrial engineering undergraduate course.

Design/methodology/approach

A new course was designed and taught in the Industrial Engineering undergraduate course of a Federal University in Brazil. The course comprised explanatory lectures and a practical project developed in a partnership between the university and an industry partner where students had to develop Ecodesign proposals based on LCA to improve the environmental profile of both solid and reticulated paint brushes. To that end, students used the LCA software tool Umberto NXT v.7.1.13 (educational version), where they modeled the life cycle of four plastic brushes and assessed it using the impact categories of climate change and resource consumption, and the Ecoinvent v.3.3 database. After course completion, students, professors and industry collaborators were asked to provide feedback on the project performance and expectations.

Findings

The course design used was welcomed by both students and the industry partner. Students found the novel approach intriguing and useful to their future careers. The results also exceeded the industry partner’s expectations, as students formulated valuable insights. Professors observed that learning was made easier, as content was put into practice and internalized more easily and solidly. The approach was found to be a win-win-win.

Practical implications

Students acquired a fair share of knowledge on sustainability issues and potential existing trade-offs, which is valuable to industrial practices. The industry noticed the valuable contributions that academia can provide. The university profited from providing students with a real case challenging traditional teaching methods.

Originality/value

To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this is one of the first case studies to show how LCA and ecodesign teaching practice can support sustainability learning in an industrial engineering undergraduate course.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 20 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 1 May 1990

Sushil

A systems perspective of waste management allows an integratedapproach not only to the five basic functional elements of wastemanagement itself (generation, reduction…

3128

Abstract

A systems perspective of waste management allows an integrated approach not only to the five basic functional elements of waste management itself (generation, reduction, collection, recycling, disposal), but to the problems arising at the interfaces with the management of energy, nature conservation, environmental protection, economic factors like unemployment and productivity, etc. This monograph separately describes present practices and the problems to be solved in each of the functional areas of waste management and at the important interfaces. Strategies for more efficient control are then proposed from a systems perspective. Systematic and objective means of solving problems become possible leading to optimal management and a positive contribution to economic development, not least through resource conservation. India is the particular context within which waste generation and management are discussed. In considering waste disposal techniques, special attention is given to sewage and radioactive wastes.

Details

Industrial Management & Data Systems, vol. 90 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0263-5577

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 1 March 2003

J. Dominik, J.‐L. Loizeau and R.L. Thomas

Environmental education at technical schools and at universities has distinctive features, the profiles of which are tailored according to the teaching models of engineers

519

Abstract

Environmental education at technical schools and at universities has distinctive features, the profiles of which are tailored according to the teaching models of engineers and academics respectively. In this paper we suggest that the exchange of teachers and teaching methods between polytechnics and universities can be profitable for both parties. For engineers it should bring a broader perspective and more global understanding of environmental systems, while for university graduates it should help them to understand better the practical problems and limits of technical solutions. The forms of exchange and their potential benefits are still not explored sufficiently. Examples of some relatively modest forms of collaboration in environmental education between the Polytechnic of Lausanne and the University of Geneva are given to show that more vigorous exchange would facilitate mutual understanding of graduates in their future environmental careers. Better mutual understanding between engineers and natural scientists clearly will increase the societal relevance of environmental education and increase the efficiency of interdisciplinary teams.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 4 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 17 April 2007

M.R. Alavi Moghaddam, A. Taher‐shamsi and R. Maknoun

The aim of this paper is to explain the strategies and activities of a main technical University in Iran (Amirkabir University of Technology (AUT)) toward sustainable…

1360

Abstract

Purpose

The aim of this paper is to explain the strategies and activities of a main technical University in Iran (Amirkabir University of Technology (AUT)) toward sustainable development goals.

Design/methodology/approach

In this paper, three main strategies of AUT to achieve sustainable developments goals in engineering education are explained. In addition, the main obstacles of these programs including the budget limitation for implementation of main activities related to sustainable development and difficulties in official procedure for the change of educational system is also explained.

Findings

The study of strategies and activities of a university can provide useful information for other universities (especially in developing countries) that like to promote their activities toward sustainable development goals. According to the final results, international education of engineering students and teachers, especially those who are living in developing countries, have an important role in promoting their environmentally aware attitudes, skills and behavior patterns help their societies make the transition to sustainable development.

Practical implications

As earlier mentioned, these experiences are useful for the universities that like to promote their education system toward sustainable development. In addition, it is necessary to think about solving the main obstacle of these activities especially in the universities of developing countries. Further, action should be taken toward international cooperation of universities in order to improve their educational system, which will be suitable for the new millennium.

Originality/value

This paper describes the strategies, activities and main obstacles of a main technical University that has adopted the strategy “pioneer of sustainable development” in Iran for the next decade. The paper mainly focuses on experiences regarding these activities.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 8 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

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