Asee peer logo

Resilience Within and Resilience Without: Mindfulness and Sustainability Programming Using an Embedded Engineering Librarian Approach

Download Paper |


2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Information Literacy in First-year Courses and Co-curricular Experiences

Tagged Division

Engineering Libraries

Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Catherine Woodworth Wong Merrimack College

visit author page

Catherine Woodworth Wong, M.S., M.S. is the instruction/liaison librarian for Science and Engineering, Health Sciences, and Environmental Studies and Sustainability at Merrimack College in North Andover, Massachusetts.

visit author page


Cynthia Helen Carlson P.E. Merrimack College Orcid 16x16

visit author page

Dr. Carlson worked as a water resources engineer for 10 years prior to earning her doctorate, contributing to improved water management in communities within the United States, Middle East, and Singapore. She has been a licensed Professional Engineer (PE) since 2002. Dr. Carlson’s research interests are broadly characterized as ‘how civil engineering impacts public health’, and include storm water management, modeling environment/engineering/social interfaces, combined sewer overflows, and improved communication and education of engineering concepts.

visit author page

Download Paper |


An increasing number of students are suffering from anxiety, even before the added stress of college life. Meanwhile, the media bombards students with images of impending doom about the climate crisis and environmental collapse, potentially increasing the sense of helplessness, fear, or anger. Fostering a sense of personal and environmental resilience through contemplative practices and engagement with sustainability topics in and out of the classroom was the goal of this librarian and professor collaborative team. The team created a culture of awareness for both sustainability and mindfulness via an in-class embedded librarian model, and out of class programming over a three year period.

First-year students are in a state of transition, not only in their educational setting, but often also in their living arrangements. This transition may be accompanied by stress and anxiety without much instruction on stress resilience. Cultivating an attitude of mindfulness and utilizing mindfulness-based practices such as breathwork, meditation, and intention-setting are useful skills for students to grasp early in their educational journey as engineers and to use in approaching inevitable setbacks. In an effort to destigmatize mental health issues related to the college transition and train nascent engineers in mindfulness techniques, an overarching theme of mindfulness with corresponding lessons was introduced into the first-year engineering class time and out of class library programming.

Sustainability programming included environmental movie nights with curricular links and conversations about climate change using the World Cafe methodology. These activities were developed to allow students time outside of class to engage with topics in an interdisciplinary manner as they were open to students in all departments and the public. As it can be difficult to get students to attend programming outside of class time, it was important to select films and conversations that were engaging, topical, and tied to other campus-wide initiatives. A World Cafe on climate change was incorporated into the first-year experience class specifically geared towards Women in STEM, facilitated by the librarian, and composed primarily of engineering students. The World Cafe was the final class project organized by the students, who were especially encouraged to promote it to their colleagues from the introductory engineering class. In addition, engineering students were encouraged to come to the films and World Cafe via a passport program through which they were required to complete a subset of tasks associated with the class.

Introducing first-year engineering students to mindfulness techniques and strategies along with sustainability topics can help students cope with stress and anxiety about environmental challenges and their early college transition, as well as provide strategies for resilience, skills that engineers can benefit from the rest of their lives.

Wong, C. W., & Carlson, C. H. (2020, June), Resilience Within and Resilience Without: Mindfulness and Sustainability Programming Using an Embedded Engineering Librarian Approach Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35153

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: © 2020 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