Associate Professor Institute for the Study of Environment, Sustainability and Energy | Department of Engineering Technology College of Liberal Arts & Sciences | College of Engineering & Engineering Technology
Course(s) Targeted by this Innovation
ENVS 305X: Green Technologies TECH 305: Green Technologies TECH 445: Industrial Energy Utilization and Environmental Impacts TECH 484: Energy Management
Purpose and Impact
ENVS/TECH 305 Green Technologies is a required core course within the environmental studies program and within the engineering technology – energy and environmental systems technology emphasis area where it also serves as a gateway course. It is an elective in all four other emphasis areas within engineering technology as well. Enrollment is always between 40-50 students. The course takes a multifaceted approach to the topics (e.g. wind, solar, nuclear, electric vehicles) covered while providing a solid foundation for further exploration into other aspects of sustainability.
The course has traditionally been taught online and 100% asynchronous, yet sustainability problems generally require transdisciplinary, collaborative problem solving. The proposed innovation would add an interdisciplinary, collaborative project that students would complete to address a complex sustainability problem. This will increase student-student communication and connection to the course, provide students with the opportunity to practice working and communicating with others across academic backgrounds, and help students gain competency in creativity, critical thinking, and research.
Description of Innovation
The interconnected, complex challenges addressed by the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) show how inter and trans-disciplinary education is essential to meet these goals. Such an approach is further supported by the UNESCO (2022) report “Knowledge-driven actions: Transforming higher education for global sustainability” which highlighted that higher education needs to move towards inter-and transdisciplinary modes of producing and circulating knowledge.
This innovation proposes a collaborative jigsaw style project that will promote interdisciplinary education and comprehension of sustainability competencies. The students in ENVS/TECH 305 will brainstorm a sustainable energy challenge to address, then students will work in teams with a specific focus area (e.g., technical, economic, environmental, social justice) to conduct research and become experts in that area. Next, students will be reassigned to a concept team that has representation from all focus areas in order to develop a comprehensive solution to the initial challenge. Finally, each concept team will pitch their solution to the challenge to the class as a whole. The entire collaborative project will take 6-8 weeks to complete.