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Defining "Sustainable Engineering": A Comparative Analysis of Published Sustainability Principles and Existing Courses

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Conference

2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Educational Research and Methods Potpourri II

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count

14

Page Numbers

22.418.1 - 22.418.14

DOI

10.18260/1-2--17699

Permanent URL

https://strategy.asee.org/17699

Download Count

95

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Paper Authors

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Stephen R. Hoffmann Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Stephen R. Hoffmann is the Assistant Head of the Division of Environmental and Ecological Engineering at Purdue University. He brings to this position a background in chemistry, and a Ph.D. in Environmental Chemistry and Technology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Current research involves sustainability in the curriculum: definitions, material development, and mechanisms, and assessment of integration of sustainability ideals into all Engineering curricula.

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Alice L. Pawley Purdue University Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0001-9117-4855

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Dr. Alice L. Pawley is an assistant professor in the School of Engineering Education and an affiliate faculty member in the Women’s Studies Program and Division of Environmental and Ecological Engineering at Purdue University. She has a B.Eng. in Chemical Engineering from McGill University, and an M.S. and a Ph.D. in Industrial and Systems Engineering with a Ph.D. minor in Women’s Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is Co-PI and Research Director of Purdue University’s ADVANCE program, and PI on the Assessing Sustainability Knowledge project. She runs the Research in Feminist Engineering (RIFE) group, whose projects are described at the group's website, http://feministengineering.org/. She is interested in creating new models for thinking about gender and race in the context of engineering education. She was recently awarded a CAREER grant for the project, "Learning from Small Numbers: Using personal narratives by underrepresented undergraduate students to promote institutional change in engineering education."

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Ranjani L. Rao Purdue University

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Ranjani Rao (M.A., 2008, Purdue University) is a doctoral student in Organizational Communication in the Department of Communication at Purdue.

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Monica E. Cardella Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-4229-6183

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Monica E. Cardella is an Assistant Professor of Engineering Education and is the Co-Director of Assessment Research for the Institute for P-12 Engineering Research and Learning (INSPIRE) at Purdue University. Dr. Cardella earned a B.Sc. in Mathematics from the University of Puget Sound and an M.S. and Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering at the University of Washington. At the University of Washington she worked with the Center for Engineering Learning and Teaching (CELT) and the LIFE Center (Learning in Informal and Formal Environments). She was a CASEE Postdoctoral Engineering Education Researcher at the Center for Design Research at Stanford before beginning her appointment at Purdue. Her research interests include: learning in informal and out-of-school time settings, pre-college engineering education, design thinking, mathematical thinking, and assessment research.

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Matthew W. Ohland Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0003-4052-1452

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Matthew W. Ohland is Associate Professor of Engineering Education at Purdue University. He has degrees from Swarthmore College, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and the University of Florida. His research on the longitudinal study of engineering students, team assignment, peer evaluation, and active and collaborative teaching methods has been supported by over $11.4 million from the National Science Foundation and the Sloan Foundation and his team received the William Elgin Wickenden Award for the Best Paper in the Journal of Engineering Education in 2008 and multiple conference Best Paper awards. Dr. Ohland is Chair of ASEE’s Educational Research and Methods division and an At-Large member the Administrative Committee of the IEEE Education Society. He was the 2002 - 2006 President of Tau Beta Pi.

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Abstract

Defining “Sustainable Engineering”: a comparative analysis of published sustainability principles and existing coursesAs a concept and a value in engineering and engineering education, sustainability has gainedwide acceptance and importance: engineering codes of ethics and responsibilities, accreditationcriteria, statements from engineering professional societies, and viewpoint and research papers inmajor journals have all recognized the need for engineers to operate with sustainability as part oftheir toolkits and mindsets. But many have also noted that the meaning of the termssustainability or sustainable engineering are not entirely clear, nor are the implications of howadherence to sustainability principles would impact the daily work of engineers. Despite thisuncertainty, many engineering instructors, departments, and universities have justifiably begunto incorporate sustainability as a concept or motivational idea into courses and curricula.However, there remains considerable room for critical investigation of varying meanings ofsustainability and their importance to and relationship with engineering, and how educationalexperiences may need to be designed and assessed to address the complete (and varying)meaning(s) of the concept.In this paper, we present portions of a larger research project motivated in part by the researchquestion: what is the set of concepts, ideas, approaches, tools, methods, and philosophies thatcould be included as the “necessary knowledge of sustainability” for all engineering students?Empirically-based answers to this question will help inform our remaining planned work on theassessment of sustainability education in engineering. The first of several methods used toaddress this research question uses a comprehensive assessment and analysis of publishedmaterials (in archival journals and online) on sustainability or sustainable engineering. Wepresent a comparative analysis of fifteen published sets of sustainability principles (some ofwhich are drawn from the context of engineering, some from other contexts, but none in thecontext of engineering education), a summary and comparison of engineering courses nationwidethat include sustainability terms in their titles or course descriptions and textual analyses ofavailable syllabi for those courses, and a discussion of systematically generated thematic areaspresented and implied in articles and papers included in a comprehensive review of theprofessional literature related to sustainable engineering education. Through these analyses, wehave found that the stated scope of concepts and ideas included under the banners of“sustainability” or “sustainable engineering” is extremely wide and variable, and that there maybe an important disconnect between this breadth of stated sustainability ideals and a more narrowversion of topics taught in sustainable engineering courses. This research demonstrates asystematic content analysis of engineering curricular content for educational research purposes,and contributes empirical data to the continuing discussion of how best to incorporatesustainability into engineering education.

Hoffmann, S. R., & Pawley, A. L., & Rao, R. L., & Cardella, M. E., & Ohland, M. W. (2011, June), Defining "Sustainable Engineering": A Comparative Analysis of Published Sustainability Principles and Existing Courses Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--17699

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