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On the Development of an Undergraduate Course on Sustainability Research Methods

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Conference

2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Sustainability and engineering education

Tagged Division

Environmental Engineering

Page Count

12

Page Numbers

23.943.1 - 23.943.12

DOI

10.18260/1-2--22328

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/22328

Download Count

175

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Paper Authors

biography

Kim LaScola Needy University of Arkansas

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Kim LaScola Needy is Department Chair and 21st Century Professor of Industrial Engineering at the University of Arkansas. She received her B.S. and M.S. degrees in Industrial Engineering from the University of Pittsburgh, and her Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering from Wichita State University. Prior to her academic appointment, she gained industrial experience while working at PPG Industries and The Boeing Company. Her first faculty appointment was at the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Needy’s research interests include engineering management, sustainable engineering, engineering economic analysis, and integrated resource management. She is President-Elect of IIE as well as a member of ASEE, ASEM, APICS and SWE. She is a licensed P.E. in Kansas.

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TAHAR MESSADI UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS

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Tahar Messadi is Co-Director of the Sustainability Programs and 21st Century Chair of Sustainability at the University of Arkansas. He graduated from the University of Michigan with Master and Doctoral Degrees in Architecture with concentration on Environmental Technology. His previous faculty appointment was at Georgia Tech where he taught for ten years. His consulting work focuses on lighting, acoustics and building energy consumption, and climatic design.
His varied research interests are focused on buildings lighting, thermal and acoustic performance and sustainability education. Professor Messadi is the author and co-author of numerous publications in national and international conferences and journals. His papers dealt with a number of subjects including optimization/calibration of smart facades, lighting design, and high performance schools. He has supervised many MS, M.Arch and Ph.D. theses.

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John Henry Kester III University of Arkansas

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John Henry Kester III is a Distinguished Doctoral Fellow and PhD student in the Environmental Dynamics program at the University of Arkansas. John received his B.A. degrees in Biology and Economics from Denison University, and his M.A. in Sustainable Communities from Northern Arizona University. During his time as a student, he works to build connections and foster working relationships with city leaders. John's research interests focus on city sustainability metrics and citizen participation is local governance. This research started with a Commitment to Action at the Clinton Global Initiative University Meeting held in Washington, D.C. in April 2012.

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Abstract

An interdisciplinary team at the University of ________ is developing an undergraduatecourse that will be devoted to methods and techniques to appropriately conduct research inthe field of sustainability. Research carried out in sustainability is complex due to itsinterdisciplinary nature within engineering and between engineering and other STEMand/or non-STEM disciplines. Furthermore, research methods span from strictlyquantitative to more qualitative extremes adding to the complexity. Academic rigor andproper student preparation are primary motives to accompany the sustainability efforts thatare expanding at the University of ________ with the addition of both a university-wideundergraduate minor and a graduate certificate in sustainability. Efforts to develop thiscourse are further motivated by the university’s commitment to creating a bachelor’s degreein sustainability. Our team aims to complement this structural improvement tosustainability by developing an engaging research methods course for undergraduatestudents in the program.From our academic experience and initial literature review, it is apparent that very littlework has been done to specifically tailor current methods of inquiry to sustainability, oremerge with new ones that are more fitting. Instead, we witness a de facto reliance ontraditional approaches to solve problems that are fundamentally different due to theirmultidisciplinary nature. As a result, research training is lacking not only in thesustainability program, but for undergraduates, including engineering students, as a whole.The ability to conduct research is usually learned through initiation with continued practiceand builds from a foundation of understanding the different approaches that are available.For sustainability, there is an inherent interdisciplinarity that encourages exposure to a widearray of techniques and tools. Thus, this research methods course is constructed to presentthe class with a wealth of conceptualized procedures, and also, case studies to learn fromexemplars of sustainability research. Collaboration from faculty with different backgroundsis further expanded by enlisting the participation of the University of ________Sustainability Curriculum Steering Committee members to review and assess the veracity ofthe proposed methods. This paper shares the outcome of this new course developmentaimed at preparing undergraduate students, including engineers, to carry out sustainabilityresearch and further prepare them for graduate studies.

Needy, K. L., & MESSADI, T., & Kester, J. H. (2013, June), On the Development of an Undergraduate Course on Sustainability Research Methods Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--22328

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