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An Ecological Engineering Curriculum

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1998 Annual Conference


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 28, 1998

Start Date

June 28, 1998

End Date

July 1, 1998



Page Count


Page Numbers

3.77.1 - 3.77.7

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Paper Authors

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Susan M. Bolton

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Scott D. Bergen

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James L. Fridley

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2608

An Ecological Engineering Curriculum

Scott D. Bergen, James L. Fridley and Susan M. Bolton University of Washington Forest Management and Engineering Division Box 352100 Seattle WA 98195-2100 (206) 543-6993 (206) 685-3091 fax


This paper further describes efforts to develop an ecological engineering curriculum at the University of Washington. We define ecological engineering as the design of sustainable systems consistent with ecological principles that integrate human society with its natural environment for the benefit of both. In a previous paper we discussed in detail our concept of ecological engineering, its potential scope of application, and a broad outline of an undergraduate curriculum (Bergen et al., 1997a). In this paper we present a specific curriculum designed as a track in a proposed natural resources engineering degree program.

We believe ecological engineering is a distinct discipline with ecology as its fundamental science base. Students will learn to practice design with an appreciation for the relationship of organisms (including humans) with their environment and the constraints on design imposed by the complexity, variability and uncertainty inherent to natural systems. This approach represents a new paradigm for engineering design. In another paper, we identified principles to guide those practicing ecological engineering that reflect our own thinking as well as ideas from others who have written on engineering and ecological design (Bergen et al., 1997b). The five basic design principles we propose are:

1. Design consistent with ecological principles 2. Design for site-specific context 3. Maintain the independence of design functional requirements 4. Design for efficiency in energy and information 5. Acknowledge the values and purposes that motivate design

We define ecological engineering broadly and advocate its application to a number of problem areas. Potential applications include:

1. The design of ecological systems (ecotechnology) as an alternative to man-made/energy intensive systems to meet various human needs (for example, constructed wetlands for wastewater treatment). 2. The restoration of damaged ecosystems and the mitigation of development activities. 3. The management, utilization, and conservation of natural resources. 4. The integration of society and ecosystems in built environments (for example, in landscape architecture, urban planning, and urban horticulture applications).

Bolton, S. M., & Bergen, S. D., & Fridley, J. L. (1998, June), An Ecological Engineering Curriculum Paper presented at 1998 Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington.

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