Project-organized learning and the development of competences in Engineering Education for Sustainable Development

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The integration of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) principles has been claimed for all levels and areas of formal education. The integration of new kinds of competences, skills and knowledge into the engineering curricula aims to prepare future engineers to face the challenges posed by the complex and economically driven society and develop innovative technologies to solve and prevent sustainable problems. In this perspective, ESD experts have stressed sustainability aspects as well as cross-disciplinary competences, such as inter-disciplinarity, adaptability, problem solving, critical thinking, systems thinking, etc. It is argued that Problem-Based Learning (PBL) provides a suitable framework for developing the competences mentioned, but there is a lack of studies that investigate the room which PBL practice leaves for ESD. In this study, we aim to investigate the staff’s perception of what engineering students do; which aspects they touch upon, and which type of knowledge they gain in a PBL environment and how this reflects the ESD principles. The study includes two engineering programs in the PBL environment at Aalborg University, Denmark. The results show distinct strategies for integrating ESD and different interpretations of PBL, which, at the same time, can be questioned and hold the potential for cross-fertilization and development. However, the results also show a strong emphasis on problem solving as well as systemic and holistic perspectives on the integration of ESD. This indicates that, although a PBL framework makes perfect room for integrating ESD, a coordinated and comprehensive strategy must be implemented to make use of the provided space.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of ERSCP-EMSU 2013
Number of pages21
Publication date2013
Publication statusPublished - 2013
EventERSCP-EMSU 2013 - Istanbul, Turkey
Duration: 4 Jun 20137 Jun 2013


ConferenceERSCP-EMSU 2013

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