Background: The issue of sustainability and its appropriate role in engineering education has been the focus of growing awareness among the engineering education community globally, particularly over the last decade. However, while there have been calls for embedding sustainability content throughout engineering curricula since the 1990s, there has been little by way of strategic and systematic integration. Meanwhile professional engineering institutions (PEIs) have shown an increasing awareness of this area and have been behind several recent and ongoing initiatives which have addressed the role of the engineer in helping create a sustainable society. Accreditation plays a major role as a key driver and monitor of curriculum evolution and renewal efforts. Hence, the issue of appropriately embedding sustainable development within engineering curriculum will be inevitably considered by PEIs over future accreditation reviews and guideline iterations.
Workshop: The 1.5 hour highly interactive workshop will provide an opportunity for professional engineering institution accreditors and educators to discuss emerging accreditation themes internationally, particularly in relation to EESD. A background paper1 has been produced for workshop delegates, which overviews current international practices with respect to accreditation requirements in the context of evolving policies and initiatives by various professional institutions.
With this context in mind, delegates will have an opportunity to share their findings and experiences. Delegates will be asked to reflect on the following questions:
1. What are the Sustainability / Sustainable Development themes that might be incorporated into engineering curricula for the second decade of the 21st Century and beyond?
2. How might these themes manifest themselves in practical terms throughout accreditation themes through guidelines of Professional Engineering Institutions?
Delegates will receive a copy of the compiled results and key findings will be published in a relevant forum, to contribute to a broader conversation globally.
Symposium – Workshop Interaction: As part of Cheryl Desha's keynote address (9.00-9.30am, Boole 1, Friday 2 July 2010), delegates will be asked to peruse a list of emerging themes:
1) ranking the themes that have been identified with regard to how well each is currently addressed;
2) nominating other sustainability competencies (or ‘generic attributes’) that should be incorporated; and
3) listing any crucial recommendations that accreditation bodies should consider when reviewing their core competency statements for sustainability content. These results will be compiled to feed into the workshop.
Examples – Statements & Themes: For example, two core competencies related to sustainability and sustainable development in the Engineers Australia accreditation documentation are: g) understanding of the social, cultural, global and environmental responsibilities of the professional engineer, and the need for sustainable development; h) understanding of the principles of sustainable design and development; From these, the following themes may be distilled: – Social responsibilities – Cultural responsibilities – Global responsibilities – Environmental responsibilities – The need for sustainable development – Principles of sustainable design – Principles of sustainable development
Background – Facilitator: Cheryl Desha, Education Director of The Natural Edge Project (TNEP), is an Environmental Engineer and co-author to a number of publications including ‘Cents & Sustainability: Securing Our Common Future by Decoupling Economic Growth from Environmental Pressure’ (2010), ‘Factor 5: Transforming the Global Economy through 80% Improvements in Resource Productivity (2010)’, ‘Whole System Design: An Integrated Approach to Sustainable Engineering (2009)’ and ‘The Natural Advantage of Nations: Business Opportunities, Innovation and Governance in the 21st Century’ (2005). Cheryl will deliver a keynote speech at ISEE 2010 and launch TNEP’s publication ‘Engineering Education & Sustainable Development: A Guide for Rapid Curriculum Renewal in Higher Education’ at the Symposium.
The Natural Edge Project (TNEP) is a not-for profit partnership for research and education on sustainable development. Formerly hosted by Engineers Australia (2002-2006), the project is now hosted by Griffith University and the Australian National University (www.naturaledgeproject.net). TNEP’s mission is to contribute to and succinctly communicate leading research, case studies, tools and strategies for achieving sustainable prosperity across government, business and civil society.
1Byrne, E., Desha, C., Fitzpatrick, J. & Hargroves, K. (2010). 'Engineering Education for Sustainable Development: A Review of International Progress', workshop paper for the 3rd International Symposium for Engineering Education, 30 June - 2 July 2010.