June 15, 2014
June 15, 2014
June 18, 2014
Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies
NSF Grantees Poster Session
24.206.1 - 24.206.19
Assessing sustainability knowledge: a framework of concepts Environmental sustainability is an increasingly critical concept for engineering students to incorporate into their macroethical and practical conceptualization of engineering work. However, most engineering students (excluding those focusing on environmental issues) have little opportunity to engage with the topic in the general curriculum, and few faculty members (again outside of environmental engineering) have the content knowledge necessary to prepare students for working in engineering contexts dealing with the realities of climate change and diminishing global “resources.” To that end, we conducted a progressive series of educational research studies to develop a framework to help general engineering faculty members determine how to incorporate environmental sustainability into their mid-‐level (sophomore and junior) traditional technical engineering courses. We did a content analysis of existing literature published on sustainability in engineering education; we did a content analysis of course descriptions and titles to see what faculty at universities across the country articulated as related to sustainability; we collected then thematically analyzed statements of sustainability published by a variety of governmental, industrial and commercial, and academic institutions to see what people were arguing were critical components of sustainability; we talked with undergraduate engineering students to see what they were learning that constituted sustainability; we attended public professional discussions of technical engineering academics focused on sustainability and education; and we convened a workshop of sustainability (in engineering) education experts to conduct intensive discussions about what a framework of sustainability education for engineering students should include. The outcomes of some of these efforts have been discussed in other publications. This paper/poster describes this last activity and summarizes the project: we outline the set of ideas we gleaned from the preliminary activities, the design of the workshop and the collection of participants, key ideas raised in the workshop discussions and the framework that we have subsequently developed based on all these pieces together. This framework is based on concepts we have dubbed “gateway concepts” in that they are opportunities to easily hook sustainability concepts to traditional engineering educational content but have the potential to allow students to dive much deeper into content should faculty members provide those opportunities. We provide illustration of these gateway concepts, and demonstrate the overall framework’s use for guiding faculty members’ curriculum development.
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