Engineering students’ ways of relating to wicked sustainability problems

Abstract: This licentiate thesis constitutes a part of a larger research effort that aims to provide a theoretical framework for understanding and working with engineering students’ ways of relating to wicked sustainability problems (WSPs) on the basis of conceptual, empirical, and practical considerations. Thus, the project aims to contribute to an understanding of how engineering education can support students in developing the capabilities that they need to actively participate in discussions about sustainable development and to constructively deal with WSPs.The concept of perspectives provides a point of departure for the research. Paper I introduces a conceptual framework for conceiving of and communicating about perspectives and perspective processes in the context of engineering education for sustainable development. In Paper II, four qualitatively different ways in which engineering students understand and approach a specific WSP are described based on an empirical study. The results from the study suggest that a partial experience of the complexity of WSPs may lower rather than increase students’ abilities to deal with WSPs, and that educators therefore should pay attention to support the students in progressing beyond this level. A combination of the results from the two papers provides input for discussions about what it may mean to fully appreciate the complexity of WSPs, and a basis for more practice-oriented research in line with the aim of this research.

  This dissertation MIGHT be available in PDF-format. Check this page to see if it is available for download.