- ItemContemporary landscape, drivers and developments in engineering education for sustainability(2023-09) Byrne, Edmond P.
- ItemThe power of positive acting: Reflecting on the need for authentically positive actions and seeds of hope in educating for sustainability(2023-06) Byrne, Edmond P.Most of the narratives, metrics and directions around sustainability and our unsustainable societies are negative. These include those around the climate crisis; catastrophic biodiversity and habitat loss; energy, water and material shortages amid ever increasing consumerist drivers; ocean acidification; growing levels of socio-economic inequality; degrading social infrastructure; increasing wealth accumulation, greed, social atomization and social isolation, and lack of institutional trust. While these all call out the issues as they present, they paint a rather depressing picture and prognosis, with little motivational value for change. On the other hand, overly positive narratives based on techno-optimistic futures, and the power of the markets (or the right app!) to solve the world’s problems are problematic, and open to charges of being inauthentic, hubristic short-termist and/or self-serving. Such narratives often ultimately serve to either mask the magnitude of the problem(s) and/or add to them. Thus while negative trends are more likely to precipitate a collective sense of helplessness and hopelessness than lead to transformative change, genuine positive wins can be inspirational, even if at small scales, as they can serve to highlight the potential for positive change. This paper considers the levels of engagement, reflection, insights, reactions and motivation for change by engineering students when asked as part of an assignment on a sustainability module to identify and reflect upon an authentically positive initiative or development, however small, which can assist in pointing towards the necessary transformational change to a sustainable society.
- ItemAssessing for sustainability: Reflective and peer learning assessments as a means of promoting student engagement(2023-06) Byrne, Edmond P.This paper considers a number of assessment approaches aimed at promoting learner engagement among engineering students on a bespoke sustainability module. Traditional assessment of university engineering courses typically involve closed book examinations, supplemented by participatory laboratories and associated reports. This approach is largely unfit-for-purpose for courses which seek to actively engage students to develop their reflective and critical thinking skills, as well as draw on their prior and experiential learning and knowledge. The module in question is a course on ‘Sustainability and Environmental Protection’, taken by third year engineers and some graduate students on a Higher Diploma programme with various disciplinary backgrounds, at University College Cork. It seeks to facilitate student engagement and reflection by examining concepts, models and values around sustainability and sustainable development; relationships between socio-cultural and techno-economic complex systems; interconnection, problem framing, integrative thinking and transdisciplinarity, drivers of (un)sustainable behaviour and practices, and the role of ethics, values and worldviews. Various assessment modes are chosen to support this learning and associated learning outcomes around developing critical reflective analysis, empathetic, integrative and complex systems thinking. These include a critical book review, peer engagement in critiquing an academic article, and a group presentation. The paper will present some reflections from both students and staff on the value of these modes as learning tools.
- ItemEmbedding sustainability to produce an award winning chemical engineering programme: some challenges and learnings(2018-06) Byrne, Edmond P.; Fitzpatrick, John J.Since writing about the ‘the need to embed sustainability’ into chemical engineering programmes in a 2009 paper (Byrne & Fitzpatrick, 2009), the authors have endeavoured to walk the walk by helping embed sustainability into the Process & Chemical Engineering undergraduate degree programme at University College Cork. This has been achieved both through the development of ‘primary’ bespoke modules with explicit sustainability related foci, as well as through the development of a coherent sustainability related context right throughout the programme, and across modules more generally. Nearly a decade on, this approach yielded international recognition, with a successful submission by the authors on behalf of their programme, which resulted in the award of the 2016 Teaching Sustainability Award by the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE), an award given with the purpose of ‘encouraging the development of better approaches to integrating sustainability principles and values into undergraduate teaching’ among IChemE accredited programmes globally. This paper provides a reflective account of the evolution (in thinking and practice) made to the Process & Chemical Engineering degree at University College Cork over the past number of years on its sustainability journey, from the perspective of the authors who have championed this journey, and demonstrates how a confluences of various environmental factors, operating at various levels, can help facilitate iterative change and development.
- ItemProcess Engineering: Reflections on an evolving journey towards an award winning programme for sustainability(2018-08) Byrne, Edmond P.; Fitzpatrick, John J.