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Developing An Ecological Engineering Curriculum

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1997 Annual Conference


Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Publication Date

June 15, 1997

Start Date

June 15, 1997

End Date

June 18, 1997



Page Count


Page Numbers

2.142.1 - 2.142.10



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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 3151

Developing an Ecological Engineering Curriculum

Scott D. Bergen, Susan M. Bolton, James L. Fridley University of Washington


This paper describes efforts to develop an Ecological Engineering curriculum at the University of Washington. Ecological engineering is the design of sustainable systems consistent with ecological principles that integrate human society with its natural environment for the benefit of both. Graduates will be able 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. Students educated as ecological engineers will be prepared to work on pressing environmental problems such as:

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).

We discuss our concept of the definition and scope of ecological engineering, and the knowledge areas and skills that could be included in a university curricula. Specific attention is given to the principles of ecology that will influence ecological engineering design practice. We also note organizational challenges posed by working with faculty and administration from many disciplines, attracting students, research funding and external partnerships, and seeking ABET accreditation.


The emerging practice of ecological engineering grows out of the failure of past engineering practice to provide for human welfare while at the same time protecting the natural environment from which goods and services are drawn. It recognizes that humanity is inseparable and dependent on natural systems, and that growing worldwide population and consumption has damaged, and will increasingly pressure, global ecosystems. Sustaining human society requires engineering design practices that protect and enhance the ability of ecosystems to perpetuate themselves while continuing to support humanity.

Ecological engineering is the design of sustainable systems consistent with ecological principles that integrate human society with its natural environment for the benefit of both. This paper

Bolton, S. M., & Bergen, S. D., & Fridley, J. L. (1997, June), Developing An Ecological Engineering Curriculum Paper presented at 1997 Annual Conference, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 10.18260/1-2--6504

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