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International 2014 Materials Education Symposium

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Is this Technology more Sustainable?

Dr Didac Ferrer | Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya

Is this Technology more Sustainable?

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Teaching sustainability to engineering students is critical and needs structured methodologiesin order to evaluate how sustainable are technological solutions and what sustainabilityarticulations are taken in account. The first author coordinates the subject Sustainable Design,a 5 ECTS subject within the Master degree in Sustainability Science and Technology run at UPCBarcelona Tech University. The subject uses constructive and community oriented learning forsustainable design. It is organized around three axes: Strategies, Tools and Projects. First,students are introduced to sustainable design strategies principles, like Eco-design, Cradle toCradle, Biomimicry,Design for sustainable Behaviour, Social Design and Product ServiceSystems. Second, students have to learn sustainable design tools, and in that purpose they use CES EduPack 2013 using the new sustainability database that integrates social andenvironmental awareness into various aspect of engineering, science, or design. It is based inthe 5 steps approach: Prime objective and scale; Stakeholders analysis; Fact-finding;Integration and Reflection on alternatives. Finally, students apply the approach to acontextualized project taking into consideration the sustainable strategies available. During the academic year 2012-13 a pilot using this methodology was carried out in thesubject. Students' learning was evaluated using an individual learning portfolio, a projectevaluating rubric and a Students' Evaluation of Education Quality questionnaire. After takingthe subject students appreciated the methodology as a holistic and practical approach toexploring sustainability. They commented that it gives guidance and focus while tackling thecomplexity of the task. They thought the CES EduPack Level 3 Sustainability database helped to save time andfind relevant information. They greatly appreciated the continuous feed-back from theteachers after each phase. This paper presents a new teaching method and a supporting toolto be used in a systematic manner in engineering, design and materials courses. The first trialswith teachers who were familiar with sustainability concepts reveal it to be useful, as it bringsfocus, guidance and concrete tools to the students and instructors. In autumn 2013, new pilot experiences are being carried out at two different levels: First yearBachelor students and Master Final Thesis. The suitability of the methodology is going to bestudied and the outcomes will be also introduced the spring symposium.