Teaching Professionals Environmental Management: Combining Educational Learning and Practice Learning

Michael Søgaard Jørgensen, Ulrik Jørgensen

Publikation: Bidrag til bog/antologi/rapport/konference proceedingKonferenceartikel i proceedingForskningpeer review


This paper is based on almost seven years of experience from the post-graduate Master’s program for professionals in Environmental Management at the Technical University of Denmark. The curriculum equals a one-year full time study carried out as two years half-time study activities in four semesters. The target groups are professional environmental managers working in businesses including consultants, governmental institutions and organizations. To get access to the education the students must have a technical/nature science competence at master level or bachelor level combined with relevant job experience. Generally the participants have had 5-15 years of practical experience and many have been or are in the position of an internal or external job change towards new tasks that require new knowledge, methodologies or management skills. The education of "Masters of Environmental Management" (MEM) started in 1996 and since then 8 classes with between 25 and 32 students each have started. Class number 9 starts in September 2003. It is a specific target for the post-graduate education that networks are established during the course and continue working after the graduation. The networks seek to continue the dialogue and exchange of experience across employment area in an open and not formalized way. The networks are also used to get feed back to the university and the education as a mean to continuously improve the education and be aware of urgent competence and personal empowerment needs among academic professionals working with environmental management and cleaner technology matters. The objective of Environmental Management education is to provide the students with the ability to understand and co-ordinate actions to solve environmental problems both within industry and in broader society. As such, the education aims at qualifying the student both in the area of efficient management of environmental problems and technological processes of change in companies, and in the area of planning and coordinating government regulations and the involvement of other stakeholders. The education is based on the need for more preventive and more systematic environmental activities as it has been expressed by the recent development of practice fields like cleaner technology, environmental and life cycle thinking. To plan and compose a course program intending to provide candidates with professional skills they can use in complex situations on the job is not simply a question of combining different university disciplines in the right blend and topping it with some experience. It involves combining science-based knowledge into thematic structures in carefully organized learning processes. The education is based on the view that different competencies are needed for managing business economics and for environmental management. Integration of general management principles with specific disciplines within environmental management is therefore used as a method to acquire the necessary qualifications. Another basic view is that there is a need for integration of technical knowledge with organizational understanding. Consequently, knowledge of environmental problems, their causes, possible technical solutions, and ways of handling production processes are combined with the understanding of management activities and ways of organizing change. This integration of different knowledge domains is a crucial element in the education, since traditional claims of knowledge within the scientific disciplines often partly exclude each other's perspectives and understandings of the problems at stake. Building professional competencies involves accomplishing this integration of different knowledge domains in specific areas of practice. The first three terms each have their specific theme that both focuses on the types of knowledge and problems to be dealt with and provides a continuous progression in the complexity of problems taken up in the curriculum. The first term deals with ‘the company and the environment’; the second covers ‘environmental regulation’; and the third deals with ‘environmental change management’. The education is completed with the fourth term comprising of a final thesis. This type of education becomes a place where interplay is created between knowledge from research and development on the one side and competencies from professional practice on the other. In actual teaching, this is accomplished through the creation of linkages between theoretical knowledge and methods and practical knowledge in the environmental field. Subjects and themes originates to a large extent from the wide range of realistic problems that participants meet in their jobs – and teachers are required to find and use exactly sources of knowledge and methodology that meet these demands. Each basic semester contain both class teaching and elaboration of a project – typically based in one of the participant's organization with realistic issues in field of environment. Working in a semester, first with theoretical knowledge and methodology in class teaching and discussion and later on using this knowledge in projects approaching realistic environmental problems in organizations seems to be a viable route to create an adequate post-graduate program that elevate the competencies of professionals. As such the learning processes in the program becomes a mixture of educational learning and practice learning, which we call reflexive learning. The pedagogical approach and the roles of teachers and course participants in the learning process are of great importance. Two different roles need to be taken up by both students and teachers. The student is expected to act both in the role of being the one to receive knowledge but also in the role of one who produces knowledge and acts as a professional with experience that should be accessible to fellow students. The teacher also has to be able to administer two different roles. In some situations, the teacher has to act the role of a (scientific) authority, and in others, she/he also needs to be able to work as an equal ‘sparring partner’ for the students.
TitelCIRP Life Cycle Engineering Seminar Proceedings
RedaktørerHauschild, M., Alting, L., Poll, C., Molin, C.
ISBN (Trykt)87-91035-01-5
StatusUdgivet - 2003
Udgivet eksterntJa


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