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Civil And Environmental Engineering Education (Ceee) Transformational Change: Tools And Strategies For Sustainability Integration And Assessment In Engineering Education

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Sustainability and Engineering Programs

Tagged Division

Environmental Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.294.1 - 13.294.14



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Paper Authors


Qiong Zhang Michigan Technological University

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Dr. Qiong Zhang is a Senior Research Engineer and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering at Michigan Technological University.

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Julie Zimmerman Yale University

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Dr. Julie Zimmerman is an Assistant Professor jointly appointed to the Department of Chemical Engineering, Environmental Engineering Program and the School of Forestry and Environment.

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James Mihelcic Michigan Technological University

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Dr. James R. Mihelcic is a Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering at Michigan Technological University.

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Linda Vanasupa California Polytechnic State University

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Linda Vanasupa is a Professor and the Chair of Materials Engineering Department at California Polytechnic State University.

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

Civil and Environmental Engineering Education (CEEE) Transformational Change: Tools and Strategies for Sustainability Integration and Assessment in Engineering Education


This paper is based on a new project recently funded by the National Science Foundation which focuses on addressing some of the current barriers to integrating sustainability into engineering education – creating effective learning materials and proving the effectiveness of new teaching strategies – that enables engineering faculty to more easily incorporate sustainability approaches into curricula. The objectives of the project are to design, develop, implement, disseminate, and assess the success and effectiveness of the proposed transformational learning practices and peer- to-peer networks. The paper begins with a brief overview of the entire project and then focuses on: 1) the components of a new textbook created for an Introduction to Environmental Engineering course and 2) identical Green Engineering courses to be offered at partner universities that build upon the introductory course.

The concept of incorporating and leveraging Fink's taxonomy of significant learning in the textbook and the course design is introduced and discussed. The paper also discusses how the textbook and the teaching/learning practices employed in the green engineering courses align with principles for good practice in undergraduate education and demonstrated successful teaching methods in engineering education.


Sustainability has been receiving an increasing amount of attention by the global community in the past decade. Sustainability is often defined as “meeting the needs of the current generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”1. This is often practically interpreted as mutually advancing the long-terms goals of economic growth, societal prosperity, and environmental protection. While there is an on-going debate on the major challenges to sustainability, most engaged in these discussions would suggest that issues such as population, water, the built environment, and energy2 are at the forefront.

The population discussion is particularly relevant given the fundamental goal of a high quality of life for all global citizens. This suggests that civil infrastructure systems (CIS) that provide basic needs such as water treatment and sanitation and shelter must be addressed. Water is critical to meeting human needs, preserving the natural environment, and advancing economic activities. The CEE community plays a vital role in managing water resources and, with improved knowledge and understanding of sustainability, can be engaged to design improved water supplies in a sustainable and locally appropriate manner in the developing world and provide intelligent water systems for the developed world to protect this invaluable global resource. The built environment is the result of human intervention in the natural physical world. While only 2-3% of North America’s land area is built on, approximately 60% of the North American land area is now impacted by the built environment3.

Zhang, Q., & Zimmerman, J., & Mihelcic, J., & Vanasupa, L. (2008, June), Civil And Environmental Engineering Education (Ceee) Transformational Change: Tools And Strategies For Sustainability Integration And Assessment In Engineering Education Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3975

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