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

Graduate student action research to help fill gaps for formal engineering education for sustainable development program formation : vignettes as action Jensen, Cory D.


Gaps in sustainability-focussed education at higher education institutions (HEI) provide opportunities for students to help guide academic administrations towards self-directed learning experiences that concomitantly enhance organizational change and expertise within HEIs. Sustainable development could be viewed similarly in affluent settings where, for example, technology improves efficiency or in Global South settings, where providing for equity is a focus. Action research (AR) is therefore a suitable applied research methodology, which is used appropriately can help to provide for feedback, evaluation, reflection, and ultimate improvement in a continuous fashion. AR can also support educational strategies such as ‘teaching-the-teachers’ scenarios and provide for needs in educational settings that are complimentary to forecast sustainable development needs. Outcomes from this research suggests that graduate student initiated AR efforts to promote HEI organizational change is an emerging field in ESD. In this paper the approach of AR is described generally but is highlighted as a central method illustrated by a number of diverse vignettes where it was applied. This research has also taken the approach that Boundary Objects and Boundary Work are required to promote action towards EESD curriculum re-development. Because this research was done by a graduate student who listened to peer needs, it is proposed that related endeavors could be carried forth in many global settings to support improvement of ESD and EESD degree programs. This calls for more detailed projects, collection of results-outcomes, and dissemination in the literature and implementation of the new, improved approaches in and throughout ESD and EESD degree programs.

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