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Development And Dissemination Of Learning Suites For Sustainability Integration In Engineering Education

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.393.1 - 15.393.14



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Paper Authors

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Qiong Zhang University of South Florida

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Linda Vanasupa California Polytechnic State University

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Julie Zimmerman Yale University

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James Mihelcic University of South Florida

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

Development and Dissemination of Learning Suites for Sustainability Integration in Engineering Education


As pointed out in a key presentation in “Sustainability and Engineering Programs” within the Environmental Engineering division at the 2008 ASEE conference, one of main challenges for incorporating sustainability into engineering education is the lack of effective learning materials. The work presented here is based on a project funded by the National Science Foundation that focuses on addressing those challenges by creating effective learning materials and demonstrating successful new teaching strategies. The paper begins with a brief overview of the entire project and then focuses on the development of learning suites and dissemination of such suites through a workshop. The learning suites have been designed according to the Fink’s taxonomy of significant learning and research from the learning sciences. The paper introduces the learning suites and discusses how to use the Fink’s taxonomy and other research to guide the development of learning objectives and activities for integrating sustainability into engineering education.

The use of these learning suites was introduced in a workshop format at the Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors Conference in 2009. The paper describes the design of the workshop using the learning science principles and discusses the assessment of the workshop.

Introduction Engineering education in the 21st century is very complex; not only because of the “grand challenges” posed for engineering itself as developed by the U.S. National Academy of Engineering (Table 1) but also from the declining proportion of students choosing engineering as a profession and the lack of diversity represented in the remaining students1. Examination of the grand challenges in Table 1 suggests the complex technological nature of the individual and combined challenges as well as the importance of considering sustainability issues. The reaction by many engineering educators to solve such problems in the classroom would be to immerse students in traditional methods of developing new technology or application of existing technology to the problem. In this process students would not typically integrate issues of society, economy, and environment into their solution.

Table 1. Grand Challenges for Engineering (NAE, Make solar energy economical Engineer better medicines Provide energy from fusion Reverse-engineer the brain Develop carbon sequestration methods Prevent nuclear terror Manage the nitrogen cycle Secure cyberspace Provide access to clean water Enhance virtual reality Restore and improve urban infrastructure Advance personalized learning Advance health informatics Engineer the tools of scientific discovery

Zhang, Q., & Vanasupa, L., & Zimmerman, J., & Mihelcic, J. (2010, June), Development And Dissemination Of Learning Suites For Sustainability Integration In Engineering Education Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16533

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