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Sustainable and Ethical Packaging: Designing for Environmental and Social Justice

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Ethics Integration in Engineering Design

Tagged Division

Engineering Ethics

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Paper Authors


Irini Spyridakis University of Washington

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Irini Spyridakis is an Assistant Teaching Professor in the Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering at the University of Washington. Her research and teaching concern ethics and sustainable design in engineering, human computer interaction, smart cities, resource constrained communities, technology for social good, and STEM outreach. She has close to 20 years of teaching experience and is an experienced UX researcher and designer.

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This paper describes a course module on sustainable and ethical design practices in engineering. The module consists of low-stakes’ activities, interactive lectures, and a graded Sustainable and Ethical Packaging Letter Report addressed to the hypothetical Sustainability Director in a company. To create the report (the main focus of this paper), students identify a product with unsustainable packaging, conduct and report on research that examines sustainability and ethical problems related to the selected packaging, and redesign the packaging, solving the identified problems. They also participate in groups to peer review other students’ reports. This module is implemented in a junior level communication, design, and engineering core course in the Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering in the College of Engineering at the University of Washington. Outcomes were qualitatively assessed by examining samples of students’ reports versus requirements and students’ reflections on the module and report assignment. Outcomes have been positive and reveal that students gain an understanding of sustainable and ethical design, including its impact on social, economic, and environmental justice. Educators from a multitude of disciplines can use this assignment. It is a successful approach to having students learn about sustainable and ethical design through an analysis of product packaging. The module helps students start thinking about how to become change agents and how to be part of a sustainable and ethical future.

Spyridakis, I. (2021, July), Sustainable and Ethical Packaging: Designing for Environmental and Social Justice Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--37792

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