The teaching of sustainable development at Aston University

J. P. Fletcher, J. A. Drahun, P. A. Davies, P. Knowles

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

3 Citations (Scopus)


A previous paper (Drahun and Lopez Moreno 2004) discussed the introduction of the teaching of sustainable development at Aston University through the use of a role play of the expansion of a factory making plastic windows. This work has been developed in the past few years and continues to develop. The learning objectives and outcomes have remained unchanged but the way in which they are taught has changed significantly. Teaching makes extensive use of a commercial virtual learning environment to support student interaction. Students are assessed directly on social and technical aspects, including assessing the impact of the raw materials used for the process. Students are introduced to Simapro, commercial software for life cycle assessment. The project ends with the role play in the form of a planning enquiry. Students are given assistance to understand the social roles which they have been assigned. This is provided using oneday role plays and by requiring a two page written profile of the role from each student early in the project. This is supported by briefings for each group from the tutor. Also, the tutors guide the role play by simulating topical external events such as a general election, or taking extra roles e.g. visiting government official. This has now become an established part of the programme for final year students of chemical engineering and mechanical design. It is necessary to explain carefully the significance of it to the students. Furthermore it is intended to develop the use of Simapro in this and other teaching modules.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEE 2008 - International Conference on Innovation, Good Practice and Research in Engineering Education
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2008


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