Information technology for sustainable development: a problem based and project oriented approach

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In this paper we present different strategies to integrate concerns about sustainability into Information and Communication Technology (ITC) projects by use of problem based learning (PBL) methodology.
In alignment with PBL we introduce two different models for problem analysis where students move from a broader theme to a problem formulation designed to fit the time, discipline and theme of study.
In the prospect of Education for Sustainable development (ESD) the students are to move from the conceptually complex field of sustainable development (SD) to a specific formulation of a problem that initiate design, implementation and test of ICT for SD. On the empirical level we draw from experiments in autumn 2009 and spring 2013 within the field of Media technology. Observations, text analysis of students’ work as well as reflections from staff has been relied on in order to analyse the practical implications of the different approaches to integrate sustainability. We conclude that students indeed chose divers strategies to integrate sustainability into their projects and those diverse strategies are indeed needed to obtain student engagement. Furthermore, the introduction of an open-ended thematic frame, like sustainability, encouraged students to broaden their perspective on stressing economic, environmental as well as social concerns. However, the experiments also showed that interlinking engineering subjects with sustainability is a rather time-consuming task – and some of the students were struggling with these open-ended themes at the same time as they were struggling with the rather open-ended perspectives on how to manage and structure a problem based and project organised project.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRe-Thinking the Engineer
Number of pages8
PublisherEngineering Education for Sustainable Development 2013, University of Cambridge, UK
Publication date2013
Article number21
Publication statusPublished - 2013
EventEnglish: Rethinking the Engineer - Robinson College, Cambridge, United Kingdom
Duration: 22 Sep 201325 Sep 2013
Conference number: 6th


LocationRobinson College
CountryUnited Kingdom

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