Non-discipline specific sustainability knowledge and competences in the Chemical Engineering Programme at UCC

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Fitzpatrick, John J.
Byrne, Edmond P.
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University College Cork
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This paper is presented within the broader theme of considering what non-engineering-discipline specific sustainability / sustainability development (SD) knowledge and competences should be included in engineering education, in particular for four year undergraduate or four to five year integrated master’s programmes. Over the last 20 years, sustainability / SD has grown in importance, and consequently many engineering programmes have endeavoured to integrate it within their programmes. The UCC chemical engineering is one of these programmes. The inclusion of sustainability / SD content inherently contains engineering discipline specific content, but also includes content that is non-discipline specific and could potentially be undertaken by any engineering student. This paper looks at the University College Cork (UCC) Process and Chemical Engineering programme, and outlines the content that is considered as non- discipline specific. This includes the following which are briefly outlined in more detail within the paper: Basic concepts in sustainability and SD: What is it all about? The importance of framing; The environmental dimension, ecological systems thinking and importance of ecological limits; The role of environmental legislation; Humanity’s grand challenges; the food-energy-water nexus and climate change; The game-changer: The socio-economic dimension (including ecological economics); its essential role in transitioning to and maintaining a sustainable society; its impact on engineering and to what extent engineering can have influence on the socio-economic dimension; Holistic thinking; inherent interconnectedness, life cycle thinking and assessment; Energy, its importance and its commonality to all engineering disciplines, and beyond; Acquiring soft skills of critical thinking, communication, working with others, embracing uncertainty and complexity; Transdisciplinarity, emergent knowledge, and the need to be able to work with others outside our disciplinary “silo”; Values, ethics and the normative nature of sustainability choices and narratives; Worldviews, paradigms, and links with consumptive growth (material, energy, information); Transformational change; going beyond the quantitative and reductionist and the role of narrative, imagination, myth and metaphor in precipitating authentic societal and cultural change.
Non-discipline specific , Sustainability knowledge & competences , UCC Process and Chemical Engineering programme , Engineering education , Sustainability , Sustainable development
Fitzpatrick, J. J. and Byrne, E. P. (2021) ‘Non-discipline specific sustainability knowledge and competences in the Chemical Engineering Programme at UCC,’ EESD2021: Proceedings of the 10th Engineering Education for Sustainable Development Conference, 'Building Flourishing Communities', University College Cork, Ireland, 14-16 June.