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Article

Karin Edvardsson Björnberg, Inga-Britt Skogh and Emma Strömberg

The purpose of this paper is to investigate what are perceived to be the main challenges associated with the integration of social sustainability into engineering…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate what are perceived to be the main challenges associated with the integration of social sustainability into engineering education at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm.

Design/methodology/approach

Semi-structured interviews were conducted with programme leaders and teachers from four engineering programmes. The paper focuses on how the concept of social sustainability is defined and operationalised in the selected engineering programmes, how social sustainability is integrated and taught, and what resources are required to support teachers and programme leaders as social sustainability educators.

Findings

The findings show that programme leaders and teachers at KTH struggle to understand the concept of social sustainability. The vague and value-laden nature of the concept is considered a challenge when operationalising educational policy goals on social sustainability into effective learning outcomes and activities. A consequence is that the responsibility for lesson content ultimately falls on the individual teacher. Study visits and role-play are seen as the most effective tools when integrating social sustainability into the engineering curriculum. Allocation of specific resources including supplementary sustainability training for teachers and economic incentives are considered crucial to successful integration of social sustainability. The findings indicate that social sustainability education needs to be built on a theoretical foundation. It is therefore suggested that a literature canon be established that clarifies the contours of social sustainability.

Practical implications

The findings of the paper can be used as a basis for discussion regarding measures for improving social sustainability training in engineering education, a subject which has attracted relatively little attention, to date.

Originality/value

There is a noticeable lack of empirical research on how technical universities integrate social sustainability into engineering education. The paper provides an account of how actors directly involved in this work – programme leaders and teachers – define and operationalise the social dimension of sustainable development in their engineering curricula, the pedagogical tools they consider effective when teaching social sustainability issues to engineering students, and the resources they believe are needed to strengthen those efforts.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 16 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

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Book part

Karin Edvardsson Björnberg, Inga-Britt Skogh and Lena Gumaelius

In this study, we critically examine how students enrolled in a combined engineering and teacher education program given at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden…

Abstract

In this study, we critically examine how students enrolled in a combined engineering and teacher education program given at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden, understand the concept of sustainable development (SD) and the professional responsibilities of engineers versus teachers in contributing to this goal. A questionnaire was used to collect and analyze data based on five research questions: (1) How do students conceptualize the notion of SD? (2) What aspects of SD are students interested in? (3) Are there any gender differences in what aspects of SD students are interested in? (4) How do students perceive the roles and responsibilities of engineers versus teachers in contributing to SD? and (5) How confident are students in their abilities to address SD issues vocationally? The data indicated a conventional view of SD among the students; a clear interest in sustainability issues, especially for ecologically linked questions; a tendency to ascribe significant but differentiated responsibilities to engineers/teachers; and a low degree of confidence in their own ability to adequately address SD issues vocationally. The data also indicated differences between male and female students when looking at interest in different aspects of SD. Overall, female students were found to be slightly more interested in SD than the male students. This gender difference is larger in relation to social aspects than ecological or economic aspects. It is suggested that future sustainable development education needs a shift of focus from what separates female and male students to what unites them. The observed “confidence gap” that exists between stated degree of interest in, and perceived importance of, sustainability issues, suggests the potential for significant improvement of the design of the Master of Science in Engineering and in Education program (CL-program).

Details

Teaching and Learning Strategies for Sustainable Development
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78973-639-7

Keywords

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Abstract

Details

Teaching and Learning Strategies for Sustainable Development
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78973-639-7

To view the access options for this content please click here

Abstract

Details

Teaching and Learning Strategies for Sustainable Development
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78973-639-7

To view the access options for this content please click here
Book part

Enakshi Sengupta, Patrick Blessinger and Tasir Subhi Yamin

One of the most important issues plaguing our planet is the depletion of natural resources and climate change, creating new disasters, and global challenges. The…

Abstract

One of the most important issues plaguing our planet is the depletion of natural resources and climate change, creating new disasters, and global challenges. The international community has expressed its anguish and concern for these problems through several international forums and treaties. As a response, Education for Sustainable Development is a program that aims to educate students on these issues. Teaching sustainability to young graduates needs to be holistic and pluralistic in nature. Discourses and modules on sustainability help in making them sustainability conscious which will enhance the competencies of people and help them to live and act in a more sustainable way. This book has several chapters written by academics across the globe who have spoken about their experience of incorporating sustainability into their curriculum and adopting various pedagogical approach that has helped their students to learn and understand the subject. Sustainability has been part of the teaching and learning in general, and as part of management, engineering, medical, and design courses, for instance. This book helps us to understand how such teaching and learning strategies can be made more effective for students.

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