Embedding sustainability across the built environment curriculum and beyond

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Kelly, Mark
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University College Cork
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This study will outline progress of an ongoing Teaching and Learning Engineering Innovation project in the Department of Building and Civil Engineering at the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, which has employed incremental diffusion approaches to embed sustainability as a core threshold concept across all degree programmes. Phase 1 involved undertaking a curriculum review of all programmes in the Department to identify opportunities to embed sustainability in programme and curriculum design, particularly focusing on constructively aligning learning outcomes, graduate attributes and competences to pedagogy and assessment strategies. This was followed by the design and piloting of a questionnaire survey, which was disseminated to all students within the department to identify pro-environmental attitudes, self-reported behaviours, social and moral norms etc. A reciprocal learning framework encompassing curriculum and pedagogical experimentation, ongoing collaborative industry research on resource efficiency and the circular economy, the ‘living lab’ campus and other initiatives associated with the Green Campus programme is under development in phase 2. This paper will present findings from a selection of experimental interventions tested in phase 1 with students on the B.Sc. in Construction Management and the B.Sc. in Quantity Surveying and Construction Economics where complexity, ‘wickedness’, reflexivity, personal and professional identities and possible futures were debated and discussed. This is informing the development of an educational framework to facilitate a transition within the Department to move from learning ABOUT sustainability (accommodative) using narrow ‘bolt-on’ discipline-specific approaches to learning FOR sustainability (reformative) where the campus operations, curriculum and institute policy begin to be reconceptualised to capacity-building learning AS sustainability (transformative) (Sterling et al., 2013) through experiential learning communities of practice that aim to bring about whole institutional change.
Engineering education , Sustainability , Green campus , STEEP framework
Kelly, M. (2021) ‘Embedding sustainability across the built environment curriculum and beyond’, EESD2021: Proceedings of the 10th Engineering Education for Sustainable Development Conference, 'Building Flourishing Communities', University College Cork, Ireland, 14-16 June.