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Engineering the UN Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Innovative Instructional Strategies for Integrating Sustainability

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


William E. Kelly P.E. Retired

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William E. Kelly, Ph.D., P.E., retired in January 2015 as Director of External Affairs at the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE). At ASEE, his responsibilities included the Engineering Deans Council, international activities, and ASEE’s ABET accreditation responsibilities. Prior to joining ASEE in September of 2007, he was a Professor of Civil Engineering at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. where he served as Dean of the School of Engineering from 1996-2001. Dr. Kelly was on the ABET Engineering Accreditation Commission (EAC) from 1993-2003 and was chair in 2001-2002. He is currently a member of the NAE Center for Engineering, Ethics, and Society Advisory Group, the ASCE Committee on Sustainability and the Board of Directors of the Civil Engineering Certification Board. He is a Fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers and ABET.

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J. P. Mohsen University of Louisville

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Dr. Mohsen is Past President of the American Society for Engineering Education. He has served on the ASEE Board of Directors previously as Vice President for Member Affairs and Vice President for Professional Interest Council.

J. P. Mohsen is professor and chair of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at the University of Louisville where he has taught since 1981. He holds a Ph.D. in civil engineering from the University of Cincinnati. His area of research is non-destructive testing and evaluation of materials with a focus on concrete structures. He teaches courses and conducts research in the areas of design and construction of pavements. He is currently involved in conducting research in condition survey of bridge structures using remote sensing technology.

He has also been actively involved the American Society of Civil Engineers, serving on the Educational Activities and Continuing Education committees as well as the Technical Council for Computing and Information Technology. He is active in the Transportation Research Board serving on Properties of Concrete and Design of Pavements committees.

Dr. Mohsen was named Engineer of the Year in Education by the Kentucky Section of ASCE in1999 and 2007. He received the University of Louisville Distinguished Service to the Profession Award in 1999 and 2009. He received the Distinguished Teaching Professor Award in 2003. He is a Fellow of ASCE as well as ASEE.

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Liv Haselbach P.E. Washington State University

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Dr. Liv Haselbach is the author of the McGraw-Hill GreenSource book, The Engineering Guide to LEED- New Construction, Sustainable Construction for Engineers. She has authored numerous papers on sustainability related to topics such as low impact development and carbon sequestration, and is active in the sustainability education community. Dr. Haselbach is a licensed professional engineer and a LEED AP (BD+C). Prior to her academic career she founded an engineering consulting company in the New York – Connecticut area. Her degrees include a BS in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Cornell, an MS in Chemical Engineering from UC Berkeley, and a PhD in Environmental Engineering from the University of Connecticut. She is currently an Associate Professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering at Washington State University, an Associate Director of the USDOT Tier 1 UTC: Center for Environmentally Sustainable Transportation in Cold Climates (CESTiCC) and a Fulbright-ALCOA Distinguished Chair in the Environmental Sciences and Engineering.

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The United Nations (UN) Post 2015 Sustainable Development Goals were approved last September and became effective January 1, 2016. There are 17 goals and 169 targets and they replace 8 Millennium Development goals with 18 targets. The new goals will guide UN sustainable development activities over the next 15 years. The UN has been a major driver of sustainable development beginning with the 1987 Brundtland Report, followed by numerous summits, agreements, and the Millennium Development Goals.

The World Federation of Engineering Organizations (WFEO) provided input to the UN goal setting process. The WFEO represents the global engineering community at the UN and engineering societies based in the United States participate in WFEO through the American Association of Engineering Societies (AAES).

What are the implications for engineering education? Under Goal 4, one of the targets is “by 2030 to ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development.” Engineering graduates will need to have a deeper knowledge and understanding of sustainable development and the overall university education needs to ensure context particularly in the social aspects of sustainable development. It seem likely that many universities will try to address sustainable development broadly and engineering students would benefit. However, engineering faculty should take opportunities to ensure that the engineering aspects of sustainable development are addressed for all students.

A number of the goals e.g. Goal 6 - water & sanitation, Goal 7 - sustainable energy, Goal 9- resilient infrastructure, and Goal 11 - resilient and sustainable cities are heavily dependent on civil engineering. However, an examination of the targets for even these goals that are heavily engineering should make it clear that achieving sustainable development as defined in the Goals will require a truly transdisciplinary approach.

Civil engineering educators need to play their part in ensuring that higher education provides all graduates with an appropriate working knowledge and understanding of sustainable development. This paper discusses some opportunities for accomplishing this nationally and internationally.

Kelly, W. E., & Mohsen, J. P., & Haselbach, L. (2016, June), Engineering the UN Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26672

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