Asee peer logo

Sustainable Societies: The Sustainable Engineering Design Curriculum At James Madison University

Download Paper |


2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Design for Society and the Environment

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.1131.1 - 13.1131.19



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Eric Pappas

author page

Ronald Kander James Madison University

Download Paper |

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

Sustainable Societies: The Sustainable Engineering Design Program at James Madison University

I. Introduction

A sustainable society possesses the ability to continue to survive and prosper indefinitely, not just with respect to environmental resources and economic development, but also with respect to quality of life as it pertains to conditions that promote sustainable human prosperity and growth (e.g. opportunity, economy, privacy, community, education, and health).

In August 2008, James Madison University (JMU) will enroll its first engineering students into a unique engineering product and process design program focused on sustainable societies. A significant component of this integrated program is the six semester 10-credit design laboratory sequence that stretches from the sophomore year to graduation. We present a divergence from the generally accepted approach to sustainability (normally referred to as “sustainable engineering” or “environmental sustainability”) and include instruction in creating sustainable societies.

Students graduating from the program will demonstrate competencies in product and process design along with significant emphasis on and rigorous coverage of technical skills that facilitate ABET accreditation as well as prepare students for the Fundamentals in Engineering Exam – General Engineering.

This paper will address the following non-traditional topics in the design curriculum in the Sustainable Societies Program:

Environmental Sustainability: An approach to the engineering of processes, products, and structures which has, indefinitely, a less negative, neutral, or benign effect on all environmental systems.

Creative and Critical Thinking, Decision Making, and Assessment: Established critical analysis and evaluation instruction has been limited to linear forms of thinking. How a designer thinks, the actual cognitive processes a designer employs to generate an idea or solve a problem, will be central to design instruction.

Aesthetics of Design: Logic is not the central or only factor in the design of a product; a product must speak to culturally and historically accepted norms of beauty, value, balance, harmony, proportion, and natural body movement.

Economic, Cultural, and Social Contexts: Understanding the far-reaching influence design has on the individual, communities, geographic regions, and cultures is central to instruction. Topics of instruction include sustainable economic and business

Pappas, E., & Kander, R. (2008, June), Sustainable Societies: The Sustainable Engineering Design Curriculum At James Madison University Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3445

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: © 2008 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