Environmental sustainability in engineering education - Quo Vadis?

Quinn, S., Gaughran, W. and Burke, S. (2009) Environmental sustainability in engineering education - Quo Vadis? International Journal of Sustainable Engineering, 2 (2). pp. 143-151. ISSN 19397038 (ISSN)


It would be difficult to find an industry sector in which the management of environmental sustainability is not of significant relevance. It is unfortunate that engineering and cognate areas of education have, for the most part, ignored these vital issues. It is, therefore, essential that all facets of engineering, design and manufacturing take action on environmental sustainability concerns through appropriate strategies. They should endeavour to implement standards, such as the ISO 14001 environmental management systems or Eco-Management and Audit Scheme, as a foundation for sustainable engineering and manufacturing. It is vital that these issues are seriously addressed in engineering education. Most engineering degree programmes do not include a broad spectrum environmental sustainability module and many have little or no exposure to any facet of learning in this area. The environmental sustainability intervention at the University of Limerick has been two-pronged in that: (a) a number of self-paced tutorials have been designed, which are intended for use in a number of European Union Universities as well as for small to medium sized industries (SMEs) and (b) an undergraduate module entitled 'Design for Environmental Sustainability' has been devised and implemented in several engineering and cognate programmes. It is in the context of engineering education that this paper discusses: the strategies used; the initial impact of the introductory programme intended for SMEs and Universities; and the introduction and evaluation of the undergraduate sustainability module. © 2009 Taylor & Francis.

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