Dynamic perception of sustainability in engineering students in a Mexican public higher education institution Juárez-Nájera, Margarita; De la Riva, Gustavo A.; Hernández-Navarro, Efrén M.; Espinosa-Fajardo, Cristina C.
Education for sustainable development leads the generation of a new culture among engineers and general specialists. We need a change in the cultural conception representing engineering studies. This change is more than a simple extension of the profession; it requires a new academic and professional culture. Education for sustainability leads to reeducation based on previously acquired knowledge. Education for sustainable development cannot be focused solely on formal activities, scheduled in the curriculum, especially limited to the classroom or to be subject of one professor. Education in this field involves leaving the purely ecological paradigm to develop skills that enable students to master a new way of being and learning to live together in connection with nature. In general in higher educational institutions students are coming from different educational subsystems with different levels of understanding of sustainable development issues. The aim of this study is to track what changes are generated in the perception of sustainability in engineering students to be taught a subject in Sustainable Development. Prior to starting such a course it was applied to 31 engineering students a 59-item questionnaire to determine the perception associated with sustainability in relation to underlying values, awareness of ecological consequences of acts, ascription of responsibility as an individual and as a member of a community; as well as interpersonal and intrapersonal skills in making specific decisions. These students were involved in different types of sustainable development and human development projects during the 2012-summer semester to reorient their perception of sustainability. After the exit questionnaire, results showed dispersion in criteria regarding students’ perception on sustainability. However, we notice that perception resizing occurred based on new knowledge, a greater appreciation of students´ role in the environment and interest in a healthier lifestyle. Outcomes show didactic recommendations on how it could be implemented the subject and make changes in institutional life to let sustainability be a value inherent in social and professional responsibility that reinterprets the concept of freedom as a philosophical category.
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