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Learning Sustainability through the Design Process

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Environmental Engineering Division Technical Session 2

Tagged Division

Environmental Engineering

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Paper Authors

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Jennifer Mueller PE P.E. Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology


Mark H. Minster Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

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Associate Professor of English

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First-year engineering students across disciplines who have joined the HERE program participate in a three-course sequence: Introduction to Sustainability, Rhetoric and Composition, and Introduction to Design. The program is a living-learning community where students live together on two floors in the same residence hall, participate in co-curricular professional development activities, and work on co-curricular team projects. For its fifth iteration of freshman students in the program, we have introduced a new approach of presenting content through implementation of a basic design process in all courses. By working through the design process in each course, students in the HERE program will make connections among various sustainability issues, create value by formulating solutions to global, regional, and campus-based problems, and foster curiosity through co-curricular professional development opportunities and project work. We have integrated the design process into the curriculum for each separate course, with specific focus on certain stages of the design process in each course. Sustainability content in each course focuses on energy, water, carbon, biodiversity, and food production in the context of global, regional, or local case studies. Design-based content includes project definition, exploration of solutions, proposal development, design validation, and reporting through oral and written communication. To assess the first year of this new approach, we have conducted pre- and post-surveys for all students in the cohort. The surveys include content-based material to measure knowledge attained, as well as perspectives on sustainability in engineering to observe any changes from the start to the end of their participation in the program. Students also perform routine self-assessments and reflections, based on a developed set of program learning outcomes, at the beginning, middle, and end of each quarter. Through their reflections, students are building a portfolio of learning from course content and co-curricular activities. By implementing the design process in the courses of the HERE program, we anticipate students will reach higher levels of learning in sustainable design.

Mueller, J., & Minster, M. H. (2017, June), Learning Sustainability through the Design Process Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28615

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