Asee peer logo

Analysis of the Sustainability Culture in Civil and Environmental Engineering and Mechanical Engineering Programs

Download Paper |


2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Civil Engineering Poster Session

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.189.1 - 25.189.17



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Maria Dawn Blevins University of Utah

visit author page

Maria Blevins is a Ph.D. student in the Communication Studies program at the University of Utah.

visit author page

author page

Steven J. Burian University of Utah

Download Paper |


Analysis of the Relationship between Sustainability Culture and Curriculum in Civil Engineering and Mechanical Engineering Programs In current discourses regarding sustainability, global climate change, and otherenvironmental issues, a common assumption is that humans will be able to engineer themselvesout of environmental predicaments. However, even though the discipline of engineering has beencharged with creating solutions to global environmental problems, the culture of engineering is notcurrently, singularly focused on or equipped for innovating solutions to sustainability challenges.Some “green” focused engineers are working on designing new technologies with an emphasis onsustainable engineering and design, however they are currently a minority. If technologicaladvances in infrastructure, energy production, fossil fuel reduction, and waste are going to be partof society’s solution to sustainability and global climate change, engineers are going to have tochange the way they identify themselves as active participants and develop new skillsets in solvingthis multi-disciplinary problem. Because new engineers are socialized to the profession throughtheir education in an engineering department, examining the culture of an engineering departmentwill identify in what ways students are being socialized into their role as sustainable designers.Additionally, due to the differing perceptions of civil and mechanical engineers, the researchersbelieve there is value in comparing and contrasting the cultures of both a civil engineeringdepartment and a mechanical engineering department. In this project the researchers are examining the organizational culture of the University of____ Mechanical and Civil Engineering programs to see if the identification of environmentally orsustainability focused engineering is part of the current organizational structure. From thisstandpoint the objective in this paper is to build a more comprehensive view of the sustainabilitycurriculum and sustainability culture of the students and faculty in these departments. Exploringhow students and faculty currently identify themselves and what the role of engineers is regardingsustainability and global climate change at this school at this time will provide interestinginformation both to scholars interested in identity and to scholars interested in how differentdisciplines are reacting to sustainability and global climate change. By understanding the culture ofthese departments at this time, meaningful curriculum could be developed to help place moreemphasis on the importance of sustainability in the discipline of mechanical and civil engineering. The foundation of this study is based on interviews of students and professors in the field ofmechanical and civil engineering, participant observation of classes and faculty meetings,document analysis, and student surveys. The paper will present synthesis of the data intorelationships among curriculum and culture in the two programs. Special attention will be given tohighlighting the impact of student attitudes and values towards sustainability, their perception ofcivil and mechanical engineering as sustainability related, and how that influenced their selectionof civil and mechanical engineering as their major and ultimately their retention in the programs.

Blevins, M. D., & Burian, S. J. (2012, June), Analysis of the Sustainability Culture in Civil and Environmental Engineering and Mechanical Engineering Programs Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--20949

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2012 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015