The contribution of university curricula to engineer ing education for sustainable development

Karen Kastenhofer*, Angelique Lansu, Rietje Van Dam-Mieras, Mahshid Sotoudeh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Global failures to reach a sustainable development within present-day societies as well as recent breakthroughs within technoscience pose new challenges to engineering education. The list of competencies which engineers should have to rise to these challenges is long and divers, and often encompasses radically new attributes. The task of engineering education for sustainable development is to address these competencies and to prepare engineers for their active role in society. Besides, while competencies correspond to optional behavior, actual behavior must be accounted for as well to fulfill the requirements for a transi tion towards sustainable development. Such an approach calls for new modes of teaching and learning as well as for their meaningful integration in existing educational contexts. This paper presents the diversity of competencies needed, introduces a focus on actual performance, and identifies five appropriate modes of learning. The combination of these different modes (their prevalence, sequence, and balance) within university curricula is discussed referring to empirical examples.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)44-51
Number of pages8
JournalGAIA - Ecological Perspectives for Science and Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2010


  • Engineering education
  • Inter-and transdisciplinary skills
  • Learning modes
  • Sustainable development
  • Technoscience
  • Transboundary competencies


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