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Incorporating Political, Social, And Legal Issues Into An Environmental Engineering Course

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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

2.231.1 - 2.231.8



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Paper Authors

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Sharon Zelmanowitz

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

Session 3251

Incorporating Political, Social, and Legal Issues into an Environmental Engineering Course Sharon Zelmanowitz United States Coast Guard Academy

1. Introduction

Environmental Engineering is largely driven by the political and social forces that shape environmental legislation and that influence the feasibility of environmental projects. As such, it is essential that environmental engineering be taught in the context of these issues rather than as a purely technical subject with no social or political relevance. To achieve this without sacrificing too much in technical course content, educators are challenged to develop innovative ways to incorporate legal, social, and political topics into environmental engineering courses and curricula.

This paper describes various projects and assignments developed for an introductory environmental engineering course at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy designed to address these non-technical issues. The course was recently changed from a Water and Wastewater course to a broader introductory environmental engineering course. Although it is impossible to cover legal, political, and social topics in-depth in an introductory technical course, it is possible to raise student awareness of these issues. Graduates of the Coast Guard Academy will benefit from this broader perspective as citizens, engineers, and as Coast Guard Officers who, as environmental project managers, may be more involved in public relations and legal issues than in technical details.

2. Political Project

A. Project Overview

In the fall of 1996, students were asked to investigate the environmental records of President Clinton and Senator Dole and to write a position paper on which candidate would lead the country best on environmental issues. The day papers were due, the class particpiated in a discussion of their views. Some of the objectives of the assignment included familiarizing students with environmental politics as a force in shaping laws and policies, encouraging students to take an interest in the political process, and developing student skills in information acquisition and analysis, writing, and critical thinking.

The project was split into two phases; information acquisition and preparation of the report. To avoid significant duplication of information, students were divided into several information acquisition teams as listed below:

Information Acquisition Groups:

Zelmanowitz, S. (1997, June), Incorporating Political, Social, And Legal Issues Into An Environmental Engineering Course Paper presented at 1997 Annual Conference, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 10.18260/1-2--6611

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