Education for Sustainable Development: can engineers be satisfied learning interdisciplinary sustainability skills collaboratively?
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AbstractManchester’s course units for simultaneously educating engineering undergraduates in professional skills, interdisciplinary collaboration and change for sustainable development, together with students from other disciplines, through problem based learning (PBL), have been well reported (see: Dobson and Tomkinson: 2013). The 2007 Manchester pilot unit was designed to apply an interdisciplinary approach to issues of global societal responsibility using PBL. The university has now moved on from courses across science and engineering disciplines to a broader student mix. It has also instituted mono-disciplinary units. Although research has suggested that an inter-disciplinary approach is ideally suited to teaching sustainable development, there are concerns that students from different backgrounds have different approaches to learning, which alters the ways in which this approach works in different disciplines. The culture of the discipline influences staff and student expectations and so can impede the acceptance of innovative pedagogic approaches. A study of learning styles amongst students from two courses with mixed engineering and social sciences backgrounds showed that, although national cultural differences can have some impact on learning preferences, greater differences are shown across disciplinary boundaries. This paper discusses the findings of that study and the implications for inter-disciplinary teaching of sustainable development.
TypeConference paper (non-reviewed)