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Article
Publication date: 11 April 2008

Abbas El‐Zein, David Airey, Peter Bowden and Henriikka Clarkeburn

The aim of this paper is to explore the rationale for teaching sustainability and engineering ethics within a decision‐making paradigm, and critically appraise ways of…

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Abstract

Purpose

The aim of this paper is to explore the rationale for teaching sustainability and engineering ethics within a decision‐making paradigm, and critically appraise ways of achieving related learning outcomes.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper presents the experience of the School of Civil Engineering at the University of Sydney in teaching environmental sustainability and engineering ethics to third‐year undergraduate students. It discusses the objectives of the course and the merits and drawbacks of incorporating ethics and sustainability in the same teaching framework. In addition, it evaluates ways of incorporating theoretical and applied perspectives on sustainability.

Findings

Ethics and sustainability overlap but do not coincide; incorporating them in the same engineering course can be effective, provided that points of linkage are clearly recognized in the syllabus, a suitable combination of theory and practical applications is drawn upon and adequate teaching methods, including decision‐making case problems, are used.

Research limitations/implications

While environmental sustainability, economic rationality and ethical reasoning can be easily fitted into the syllabus, social sustainability is more difficult to teach because it requires a significant conceptual departure from deep‐seated preconceptions on the part of students and teachers, and does not lend itself easily to conventional classroom activity, such as lectures and weekly workshops. Further research on effective ways of incorporating social sustainability in engineering curricula is therefore needed.

Originality/value

The paper evaluates sustainability issues within the context of civil engineering education.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 9 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

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Article
Publication date: 8 February 2013

Kirsi Kettula and Henriikka Clarkeburn

The aim of this study is to investigate whether educational drama can be used as a tool to facilitate expert knowledge development and to help students prepare themselves…

Abstract

Purpose

The aim of this study is to investigate whether educational drama can be used as a tool to facilitate expert knowledge development and to help students prepare themselves for working life.

Design/methodology/approach

The target group consisted of 41 students of Forest Sciences who had participated in a course of professional ethics taught through educational drama. Qualitative research data were collected from learning journals and quantitative data from questionnaires.

Findings

The results indicate that educational drama has a potential to foster expert knowledge development, because it can bring a sense of real life to classrooms and thus give experiences that resemble working‐life experiences. The course that was taught through educational drama gave students a sense of putting theory into practice and of solving working‐life problems. The students also felt that this course had made them more prepared for unforeseen situations in working life. Further, teaching professional ethics through educational drama may be a worthwhile tool to help students encounter the working‐life challenges of ethics and sustainability in particular.

Research limitations/implications

Further studies are needed to determine the quality of the students’ professional learning in educational drama and the long‐term impacts of teaching through drama.

Practical implications

The findings have practical implications for higher education related to the enhancement of expert knowledge development and preparing students for working life.

Originality/value

This paper introduces educational drama as an encouraging tool in higher education to simulate real‐life situations in the classrooms, and thus providing students with opportunities to practise for working life and grow as experts.

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