International Conference on Engineering Education for Sustainable Development (EESD) (7th : 2015)

The mindful engineer : contemplative education as a strategy for sustainable lifelong professional development Rosales, Janna


This paper explores and assesses the contribution that mindfulness practice can have as a bridge to professional self-reflection in undergraduate engineering education. The use of mindfulness practices in higher education is part of the emerging field of contemplative education. In engineering education, contemplative pedagogies remain largely unexplored, but one rationale behind contemplative education and mindful awareness is that they can help support the type of lifelong reflective practice increasingly expected of engineering professionals. In this context, the notion of sustainable development is extended to include the personal sustainability of one’s own professional development. The main research questions that inform this paper are: What does contemplative pedagogy look like? What attitudes do engineering students have towards the contemplative practice of mindful awareness? How can contemplative practices contribute positively to the professional self-awareness of the 21st Century engineer? I will sketch my own attempts to introduce contemplative pedagogy in the engineering classroom and describe a session in mindful awareness that was offered to a second-year multidisciplinary engineering class. Based on classroom observation and written responses to open-ended questions, reaction to the exercise is encouraging but there are also distinct challenges to introducing students to a largely unfamiliar and unconventional practice for the engineering context. I will provide examples of student responses to mindful awareness and then discuss the possibilities of and justifications for developing and expanding upon these initial classroom forays.

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