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Mapping and enhancing sustainability literacy and competencies within an undergraduate engineering curriculum

Lamere, Maryam; Brodie, Lisa; Nyamapfene, Abel; Fogg-Rogers, Laura; Bakthavatchaalam, Venkat

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Authors

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Maryam Lamere Maryam.Lamere@uwe.ac.uk
Lecturer in Mechanical Engineering

Lisa Brodie Lisa.Brodie@uwe.ac.uk
Dean and Head of School of Engineering

Abel Nyamapfene

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Dr Laura Fogg Rogers Laura.Foggrogers@uwe.ac.uk
Associate Professor of Knowledge Exchange in Engineering



Abstract

CONTEXT There is growing pressure today to tackle complex sustainability challenges of climate change, resource limitations, extreme poverty, to name a few. As part of this drive, today's engineers are expected to deliver technological solutions that maximise social value while minimising environmental impact. Consequently, engineering graduates must be equipped with the knowledge, skills and attributes needed to work and live in ways that safeguards environmental, social and economic wellbeing, both in the present and for future generations. PURPOSE OR GOAL The objective of the work reported in this paper was two-fold: first, to map out all the sustainability components in the undergraduate mechanical/automotive engineering curricula at the University of the West of England, Bristol (UWE) at the time of the study; second, to use the outcomes of the mapping exercise, and best practice from the sustainability literature, to develop a curriculum that equips its graduates with the sustainability skills and competencies now required of them by employers and society at large. APPROACH OR METHODOLOGY/METHODS The work that we report in this study consisted of a mapping exercise of the undergraduate mechanical/automotive engineering curriculum, followed by curriculum redesign to ensure that the resulting curricula could deliver the required sustainability skills and competencies. Both the mapping exercise and curricula redesign were underpinned by a sustainability framework adapted from the Sustainability Literacy Test for Higher Education institutes by HESI (Higher Education Sustainability Initiative). A survey questionnaire based on the list of topics covered in the Sustainability Literacy Test was developed and sent to Module Leaders of all the 40 modules making up the Mechanical Engineering/Automotive Engineering undergraduate degree programme. Findings from the survey were used to identify sustainability literacy gaps in the curricula. Then, using this mapping together with the sustainability framework, the curricula were redesigned to ensure a throughline coverage of sustainability topics, starting from the first year to the final year of the degree programmes. ACTUAL OR ANTICIPATED OUTCOMES Topics on sustainability are now much more explicit, and accreditation requirements pertaining to sustainability are now more explicitly evidenced. Students are now engaging more with sustainability, as evidenced by the significant increase in the proportion of students tackling topics on sustainability in their final year dissertation. In addition, the number of students interested in pursuing a career in sustainability after graduation has increased over the past 3 years. The outcome of the study has been highly solicited and shared at faculty level within the university. Universities in the South West England and Wales region have also approached the department to learn how Project-Based Learning can be used to integrate sustainability in the engineering curriculum. CONCLUSIONS/RECOMMENDATIONS/SUMMARY Sustainability topics have now been given prominence in the undergraduate degree programme. Sustainability literacies and competencies are now covered alongside other relevant and important topics such as climate change, renewable energy, sustainable development and community engagement.

Citation

Lamere, M., Brodie, L., Nyamapfene, A., Fogg-Rogers, L., & Bakthavatchaalam, V. (2022). Mapping and enhancing sustainability literacy and competencies within an undergraduate engineering curriculum. In 9th Research in Engineering Education Symposium and 32nd Australasian Association for Engineering Education Conference (REES AAEE 2021) (298-306). https://doi.org/10.52202/066488-0034

Conference Name 9th Research in Engineering Education Symposium and 32nd Australasian Association for Engineering Education Conference, REES AAEE 2021: Engineering Education Research Capability Development
Conference Location The University of Western Australia Perth, Australia
Start Date Dec 5, 2021
End Date Dec 8, 2021
Acceptance Date Sep 27, 2021
Publication Date 2022
Deposit Date Jan 9, 2023
Publicly Available Date Jan 10, 2023
Volume 1
Pages 298-306
Book Title 9th Research in Engineering Education Symposium and 32nd Australasian Association for Engineering Education Conference (REES AAEE 2021)
ISBN 9781713862604
DOI https://doi.org/10.52202/066488-0034
Keywords Undergraduate Engineering Curriculum; Engineering; Curriculum mapping, sustainability literacies and competencies, academic accreditation, curriculum reform
Public URL https://uwe-repository.worktribe.com/output/10256738
Publisher URL https://www.proceedings.com/066488-0034.html
Related Public URLs https://www.proceedings.com/66488.html

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Copyright Statement
Copyright © 2021 Maryam Lamere, Lisa Brodie, Abel Nyamapfene, Laura Fogg-Rogers and Venkat Bakthavatchaalam: The authors assign to the Research in Engineering Education Network (REEN) and the Australasian Association for Engineering Education (AAEE) and educational non-profit institutions a non-exclusive licence to use this document for personal use and in courses of instruction provided that the article is used in full and this copyright statement is reproduced. The authors also grant a non-exclusive licence to REEN and AAEE to publish this document in full on the World Wide Web (prime sites and mirrors), on Memory Sticks, and in printed form within the REEN AAEE 2021 proceedings. Any other usage is prohibited without the express permission of the authors.




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