DS 110: Proceedings of the 23rd International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education (E&PDE 2021), VIA Design, VIA University in Herning, Denmark. 9th -10th September 2021

Year: 2021
Editor: Grierson, Hilary; Bohemia, Erik; Buck, Lyndon
Author: Andrews, Deborah; Newton, Elizabeth J.; Lishman, Ben
Series: E&PDE
Institution: London South Bank University, United Kingdom
Section: Educating Designers and Engineers for a Sustainable Future in Design and Engineering Education
DOI number: 10.35199/EPDE.2021.24
ISBN: 978-1-912254-14-9


Designers and engineers have developed many products, systems and services that have been socially, economically and environmentally beneficial. From the early 1930s however, many designers and engineers actively facilitated the linear economy, and therefore they contributed to the generation of waste and depletion of natural resources. Although this practice is now recognised as unsustainable, some professionals and industries continue to design and manufacture ‘linear’ and/or other ‘unsustainable’ products even though sustainable solutions are possible. There are a number of reasons for this and business-oriented examples include the inability or unwillingness of clients or manufacturers to change their business practice; consumer desire for slim, small products that prohibit use of mechanical fixings to aid disassembly or feeling over-whelmed by the scope of the design and number of criteria to be considered within the design process. Other reasons may be associated with education: for example the designers and engineers were educated prior to the general raising of ‘sustainability consciousness’ and/or they studied on courses that did not include sustainability as a core subject or courses where sustainability is seen as a ‘tick box’ criterion that is ignored or forgotten once covered in an assignment. As arbiters of good practice, these factors should be addressed by educators to ensure that graduates are not only sustainability literate but are also confident in the implementation of sustainable practice. In addition to these factors other cultural and behavioural attitudes that are having an adverse impact on sustainable design education and practice have emerged relatively recently however; they include phenomena such as eco-fatigue, eco-anxiety and climate-depression, all of which are increasing. It is essential for educators to rethink and adapt current pedagogic practice in order to simultaneously mitigate these issues, to ensure that sustainability remains core to design and engineering courses and that graduates continue to practice sustainable design and engineering in the workplace. This paper describes a particular psychological strategy and how it has been adapted to address these emerging cultural and behavioural challenges; the outcomes and impact of the approach are also illustrated through a case study and the reasons for the success to date are analysed and discussed.

Keywords: Education for Sustainability, psychology of teaching and learning


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