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Murphy Etal Asee Sustainabilityeducation Abstract

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Sustainability in Engineering Curricula

Tagged Division

Environmental Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.897.1 - 14.897.8



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Paper Authors

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Cynthia Murphy University of Texas, Austin

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David Allen University of Texas, Austin

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Cliff Davidson Carnegie Mellon University

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H Scott Matthews Carnegie Mellon University

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Braden Allenby Arizona State University

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Chris Hendrickson Carnegie Mellon University

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John Crittenden Arizona State University

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

Center for Sustainable Engineering: Sustainability Education Courses in US Engineering Programs Cynthia Murphy1*, David Allen1; Braden Allenby2; John Crittenden3; Cliff Davidson4; Chris Hendrickson4; Scott Matthews4 1 Center for Energy and Environmental Resources, University of Texas, 10100 Burnet Road, M/C R7100, Austin, Texas 78758 2 Department of Civil, Environmental and Sustainable Engineering, Arizona State University, P.O. Box 875306 Tempe, Arizona 85287-5306 3 School Civil and Environmental Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, 790 Atlantic Dr., Atlanta, Georgia 30332-0355 4 Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University, 5000 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213

*Corresponding Author: Email –

Sustainability, broadly defined, is the ability to maintain a particular system. Within the last two decades, it has become increasingly recognized that one of the most critical systems that needs to be maintained from a human perspective is the balance between environmental, economic, and social considerations. The Brundtland Commission report describes this as “meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs” 1. Engineering, with its basis in scientific objectivity and focus on problem solving, would appear to be an appropriate home for the study of and development of solutions to issues of sustainability (or lack thereof). A recent study performed by the Center for Sustainable Engineering (CSE), a consortium of the Univ. of Texas at Austin, Arizona State Univ., and Carnegie Mellon Univ. has found that sustainability is an area that many engineering educators are embracing. Indeed, with the caveat that the results of this effort represent a sample and not a full population, it appears that sustainable engineering is becoming a widely accepted practice. More detailed information about this study, including the final report 2 and other resources, can be found at

This paper describes some of the educational approaches being employed within US engineering departments to incorporate sustainability concepts into engineering education, with a particular focus on civil, architectural, and environmental engineering. These three programs are considered as a single unit within the study because they represent common groupings at the department level. In evaluating sustainable engineering, these disciplines are of particular interest because they have the potential to play a leadership role: “environment” is one of the three “legs” of sustainability, while civil and architectural engineering represent significant anthropogenic flows of materials and energy and reflect the needs and desires of society.

In the first of a two-step benchmarking process, the administrative heads of 1368 engineering departments (or the equivalent) at 364 US universities and colleges were contacted and asked to

Murphy, C., & Allen, D., & Davidson, C., & Matthews, H. S., & Allenby, B., & Hendrickson, C., & Crittenden, J. (2009, June), Murphy Etal Asee Sustainabilityeducation Abstract Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--4696

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2009 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015