Educating Engineers for Sustainability: understanding student differences

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Embedding sustainability in engineering education includes a potential to interrelate programmes with a specific focus on sustainability science, with other engineering programmes. In this paper, we explore how engineering students from sustainability science and other disciplines could benefit by working together already during their line of study. We will investigate the differences in the level of preparedness between engineering students in non-sustainability programmes and engineering students in sustainability programmes when they start their education and when they finish their studies.

This article is based on a longitudinal empirical survey-study (2010-2016). 4.339 engineering students from 104 different study programs at eight Danish universities and Schools of Engineering have participated in this study. We use data from a Research Council Project called PROCEED (Program of Research on Opportunities and Challenges in Engineering Education in Denmark), as well as the follow-up study PROCEED-2-work.

The findings show that engineering students in sustainability programmes express significantly lower self-confidence and they are significantly more uncertain about their abilities to perform well with regard to math and science tasks than engineering students in non-sustainability programmes. However, students within sustainability science also rate themselves in the beginning of their study to be significantly more skilled in terms of solving problems that have multiple solutions, and they rate their ability to work across disciplines significantly higher than their fellow students at the end of their study. Thereby there are clear and mutual potentials for cross-fertilisation by making students from sustainability science work with students from other disciplines.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 46th SEFI Annual Conference 2018 : Creativity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship for Engineering Education Excellence
EditorsRobin Clark, Peter Munkebo Hussmann, Hannu-Matti Järvinen , Mike Murphy, Martin Etchells Vigild
Number of pages9
PublisherSEFI: European Association for Engineering Education
Publication dateSept 2018
ISBN (Electronic)978-2-87352-016-8
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2018
EventSEFI annual Conference 2018: Creativity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship for Engineering Education Excellence - DTU , København, Denmark
Duration: 17 Sept 201821 Sept 2018
Conference number: 46


ConferenceSEFI annual Conference 2018
Internet address


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