Sustainability and ethics as decision‐making paradigms in engineering curricula

Sustainability and ethics as decision‐making paradigms in engineering curricula Purpose – The aim of this paper is to explore the rationale for teaching sustainability and engineering ethics within a decision‐making paradigm, and critically appraise ways of achieving related learning outcomes. Design/methodology/approach – The paper presents the experience of the School of Civil Engineering at the University of Sydney in teaching environmental sustainability and engineering ethics to third‐year undergraduate students. It discusses the objectives of the course and the merits and drawbacks of incorporating ethics and sustainability in the same teaching framework. In addition, it evaluates ways of incorporating theoretical and applied perspectives on sustainability. Findings – Ethics and sustainability overlap but do not coincide; incorporating them in the same engineering course can be effective, provided that points of linkage are clearly recognized in the syllabus, a suitable combination of theory and practical applications is drawn upon and adequate teaching methods, including decision‐making case problems, are used. Research limitations/implications – While environmental sustainability, economic rationality and ethical reasoning can be easily fitted into the syllabus, social sustainability is more difficult to teach because it requires a significant conceptual departure from deep‐seated preconceptions on the part of students and teachers, and does not lend itself easily to conventional classroom activity, such as lectures and weekly workshops. Further research on effective ways of incorporating social sustainability in engineering curricula is therefore needed. Originality/value – The paper evaluates sustainability issues within the context of civil engineering education. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education Emerald Publishing

Sustainability and ethics as decision‐making paradigms in engineering curricula

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © 2008 Emerald Group Publishing Limited. All rights reserved.
ISSN
1467-6370
DOI
10.1108/14676370810856314
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Purpose – The aim of this paper is to explore the rationale for teaching sustainability and engineering ethics within a decision‐making paradigm, and critically appraise ways of achieving related learning outcomes. Design/methodology/approach – The paper presents the experience of the School of Civil Engineering at the University of Sydney in teaching environmental sustainability and engineering ethics to third‐year undergraduate students. It discusses the objectives of the course and the merits and drawbacks of incorporating ethics and sustainability in the same teaching framework. In addition, it evaluates ways of incorporating theoretical and applied perspectives on sustainability. Findings – Ethics and sustainability overlap but do not coincide; incorporating them in the same engineering course can be effective, provided that points of linkage are clearly recognized in the syllabus, a suitable combination of theory and practical applications is drawn upon and adequate teaching methods, including decision‐making case problems, are used. Research limitations/implications – While environmental sustainability, economic rationality and ethical reasoning can be easily fitted into the syllabus, social sustainability is more difficult to teach because it requires a significant conceptual departure from deep‐seated preconceptions on the part of students and teachers, and does not lend itself easily to conventional classroom activity, such as lectures and weekly workshops. Further research on effective ways of incorporating social sustainability in engineering curricula is therefore needed. Originality/value – The paper evaluates sustainability issues within the context of civil engineering education.

Journal

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher EducationEmerald Publishing

Published: Apr 11, 2008

Keywords: Civil engineering; Ethics; Sustainable development; Decision making

References

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