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An Integrated Approach to Teaching Multidisciplinary Design for Sustainability

Lookup NU author(s): Chandra Vemury, Dr Neil Thorpe, Professor Oliver Heidrich


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This paper presents a case study for best practice in teaching multidisciplinary design for sustainability at Newcastle University. The case study highlights a module called ‘Design of Sustainable Engineering Systems2 (DSES2)’ offered to the second year undergraduate students on Civil Engineering programmes. As noted by Segalas et al. (2010), it is the responsibility of higher education institutions to ensure that their students are given the opportunities and right learning environments to develop moral vision and the technical capabilities required for sustainable design. In recognition of this, the School of Civil Engineering and Geosciences at Newcastle University introduced a redesigned undergraduate curriculum in 2009. The module forms part of a suite of subjects which aim to foster sustainable design competencies among students. The teaching and learning model used for this module combines a range of strategies including problem-based, design-based and self-directed learning methods. This approach facilitates a transformative learning experience by overcoming various challenges encountered in sustainable design teaching (Bourn and Sharma, 2008). Through the combination of traditional instruction, field-based learning, peer-to-peer learning and self-directed learning, this module aims to meet the requirements set by the Declaration of Barcelona (Engineering Education for Sustainable Development, 2004). The paper concludes by identifying some of the strengths and weaknesses of the pedagogical approach and considers some of the possible ways for enhancing student learning experience in the future.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Vemury CM, Thorpe N, Heidrich O

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Published

Conference Name: Engineering Education for Sustainable Development (EESD13)

Year of Conference: 2013