Thursday, June 26, 2008 - 10:30 AM
Federal Room B (Capital Hilton)

Learning Materials and Teaching Strategies for Sustainability Integration in Engineering Education

Qiong Zhang1, Julie Zimmerman2, James R. Mihelcic1, and Linda Vanasupa3. (1) Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI, (2) Yale University, New Haven, CT, (3) California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, CA

As the world faces increasing threats to the long-term health of the environment, society, and economy, sustainability has emerged and now is gathering the attention of undergraduate and graduate education across many campuses in the U.S. To integrate sustainability into engineering education, effective learning materials and teaching strategies have to be created that enables engineering faculty to more easily incorporate sustainability approaches into curricula.

In this paper, new learning materials will be introduced including an innovative textbook titled Environmental Engineering: Fundamentals, Sustainability, Design and one example of in-course modules Introduction to Sustainability. The intended audience for the new textbook is undergraduate civil and environmental engineering (CEE) students and the textbook introduces sustainability into the discussion of fundamentals in CEE. In-course modules are designed to be readily integrated into existing science and engineering courses and can be used by faculty beyond CEE to introduce sustainability into their fundamentals discussions. The identical interdisciplinary engineering courses “Green Engineering and Sustainability” to be implemented at both Michigan Tech and Yale University will be introduced and educational innovations in the form of student-to-student networks will be discussed.

The concept of incorporating and leveraging Fink's taxonomy of significant learning in the design of the textbook, the module and the green engineering courses will be introduced and discussed. The paper will also introduce the assessment approach designed to measure students' progress within several dimensions of Fink's taxonomy, including Learning how to learn (self-directed learning), Foundational knowledge (understanding of the connections between engineering solutions and global issues), Application (ability to design for sustainability), Caring (motivation, interest), and Human dimension (moral reasoning). The end of the paper will discuss how the textbook and the teaching/learning practices employed in the green engineering courses align with principles for good practice in undergraduate education and demonstrated successful teaching methods in engineering education.