Integrating sustainability in Engineering Education in Denmark

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How to include sustainability in engineering education is currently the main concern among engineering educators. In one way or another, engineering educators are increasingly addressing sustainability issues in the courses they teach, the programs they design and run, the institutional activities they promote and the accreditation criteria they develop. But this is not the first time engineering educators have attempted to bring social and environmental issues into the engineering curriculum. In this paper we examine different approaches to incorporate environmental and energy issues into the education of engineers and use them as a background for a discussion of how sustainability may and should impact engineering.

In the first part of the article, we account for the ways in which environmental and energy issues were incorporated in the education of engineers of the Technical University of Denmark and at Aalborg University since the 1970s until today. Environment surfaced as broad social concerns already in the 1960s and together with energy issues its importance grew during the 1970s into a concern, which should be addressed, in all engineering educations. Environment and energy technology lead to new ass on courses and even established engineering educations on their own, but tending to focus only on partial and sector specific technical topics like e.g. water provision and waste and solid waste treatments or new energy technologies. Thus, rather than the environment as a broader social concern to be reflected in engineering at large, what has prevailed is dominated by a conception of the environment as nature (outside society) to be handled by technology. Energy on the other hand has been conceptualized as renewable energy and has remained in the physics and electrical related research groups and departments.

Now that engineering educators are focusing on sustainability as a societal concern we face the same challenge. Is sustainability going to become a narrow set of physical indicators and metrics (emissions, fossil fuel consumption, energy efficiency, temperature increase), or will it remain to be a broader social concern to be taken across programs or eventually in specialised new professional endeavours? To further this discussion, in the second part of this paper we examine how environmental, energy and sustainability we will present some details of the design of the Master Engineering programs on Sustainable Cities and Sustainable Design at Aalborg University in Denmark. These programs claim to have developed effective strategies for educating robust engineers capable of dealing with the complexities of the needed calculations and the modelling of physical processes and at the same time able to cope with the political and administrative dynamics of cities. With this exercise we anticipate that sustainability will not meet the same fate as environment and energy but that the integration of sustainability in university program may be participating in a transition on the character of engineering education as a whole.
Publikationsdatosep. 2013
StatusUdgivet - sep. 2013
Begivenhed8th Conference on Sustainable Development of Energy, Water and Environment Systems - Dubrovnik, Kroatien
Varighed: 22 sep. 201327 sep. 2013


Konference8th Conference on Sustainable Development of Energy, Water and Environment Systems


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