Educating Engineers to a wider view of Sustainable Development

Charles Tomkinson, Helen Dobson, Veronica Sanchez Romaguera, Rosemary Tomkinson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


The world is becoming an increasingly complex environment in which to seek transformation by means of engineering. This complexity is reflected not only in the need for engineers to collaborate with other professionals from a wide background of disciplines but also in the complexity of the problems in social, technical, ecological, economic, ethical and political terms. The idea of sustainable development is itself part of a more complex environment within which future engineers will need to work. Universities worldwide attract large numbers of international staff and students: this adds an additional dimension to the broader view, with intercultural, as well as interdisciplinary, working. Increasingly, engineering curricula seek to embrace ethical and social issues. In Manchester, an interdisciplinary course unit in sustainable development for engineers and scientists has spawned a number of course units relating not just to sustainable development but also embedding ideas, for example, of entrepreneurship, humanitarian aid and emergency response. The common theme has been that of tackling complex real-world issues. In some instances these units have been run exclusively for engineers, even engineers from a single branch of engineering, and in other cases the units are run with students from a range of backgrounds. This paper describes the approach being taken in selected course units in Manchester and their relevance to the wider context, particularly in the context of ideas about working across disciplines as well as the relationship between sustainable development and other global issues. This includes comparison between units run in an essentially mono-disciplinary context with others where the intention is that they should be inter-disciplinary.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings to the 8th International Conference in Engineering Education for Sustainable Development, 4th-7th September 2016, Bruges, Belgium
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Event8th Conference on Engineering Education for Sustainable Development - HOWest, Bruges, Belgium
Duration: 4 Sep 20167 Sep 2016


Conference8th Conference on Engineering Education for Sustainable Development
Abbreviated titleEESD2016


  • Sustainable Development
  • Engineering Education
  • Global Citizenship


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