Commenced in January 2007
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Engineering Education for Sustainable Development in China: Perceptions Bias between Experienced Engineers and Engineering Students

Authors: Liang Wang, Wei Zhang

Abstract:

Nowadays sustainable development has increasingly become an important research topic of engineering education all over the world. Engineering Education for Sustainable Development (EESD) highlighted the importance of addressing sustainable development in engineering practice. However, whether and how the professional engineering learning and experience affect those perceptions is an interesting research topic especially in Chinese context. Our study fills this gap by investigating perceptions bias of EESD among first-grade engineering students, fourth-grade engineering students and experienced engineers using a triple-dimensional model. Our goal is to find the effect of engineering learning and experience on sustainable development and make these learning and experiences more accessible for students and engineers in school and workplace context. The data (n = 138) came from a Likert questionnaire based on the triple-dimensional model of EESD adopted from literature reviews and the data contain 48 first-grade students, 56 fourth-grade students and 34 engineers with rich working experience from Environmental Engineering, Energy Engineering, Chemical Engineering and Civil Engineering in or graduated from Zhejiang University, China. One-way ANOVA analysis was used to find the difference in different dimensions among the three groups. The statistical results show that both engineering students and engineers have a well understanding of sustainable development in ecology dimension of EESD while there are significant differences among three groups as to the socio-economy and value rationality dimensions of EESD. The findings provide empirical evidence that both engineering learning and professional engineering experience are helpful to cultivate the cognition and perception of sustainable development in engineering education. The results of this work indicate that more practical content should be added to students’ engineering education while more theoretical content should be added to engineers’ training in order to promote the engineering students’ and engineers’ perceptions of sustainable development. In addition, as to the design of engineering courses and professional practice system for sustainable development, we should not only pay attention to the ecological aspects, but also emphasize the coordination of ecological, socio-economic and human-centered sustainable development (e.g., engineer's ethical responsibility).

Keywords: Engineering education, sustainable development, experienced engineers, engineering students.

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