CDIO as Curriculum Model for Education for Sustainable Development

CDIO as Curriculum Model for Education for Sustainable Development

S. CHEAH (2014).  CDIO as Curriculum Model for Education for Sustainable Development. 13.

This paper shares the experience of the Diploma in Chemical Engineering of Singapore Polytechnic (SP) in transforming its chemical engineering education to develop a curriculum model for Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) that serves the dual-purpose of (1) satisfying industry requirements for graduates with the necessary technical knowledge and soft skills (CDIO skills), so that the students are competent in the workplace; and (2) allowing them to serve the broader needs of society, especially those at the bottom-of-the-pyramid. This represents our response to the SP-wide initiative of delivering holistic education to our students so that they are “competent, versatile, creative and innovative, imbued with sound values and excel in work and life so as to achieve the desired outcomes of being work-ready, life-ready and world-ready.”

We firstly review relevant literature on ESD, exploring the challenges faced by higher education in fulfilling its role in meeting the needs of sustainable development. We highlight the importance of Stephen Sterling’s work that distinguishes three types of relationship between education and sustainability: namely education about sustianability, education for sustainability, and education as sustainability. We then proceed to explain how we designed our model for ESD based on our previous CDIO implementation activity. References will be made to our papers presented at past CDIO conferences; these include introduction of chemical product design into the curriuclum; and integration of CDIO skills into core modules.

We emphasize certain unique features of our model which leads to the development of innovative chemical products, and provided some examples for illustration. In addition, our model integrates the use of design thinking and appropriate technology (a term attributed to E.F. Schumacher) – the former to complement the “Conceive” and “Design” stages, and the latter to support the “Implement” and “Operate” stages of chemical product engineering. We also outline how we “mapped” the three elements of designt thinking of user empathy, technical feasibility and business viability to the three pillars (social, environment, and economic) of sustainable development. We argue that this approach facilitates the design of a curriculum model using sustainable development as the basis for educating chemical engineering students, addressing both the cognitive and affective domains of learning, which better fulfils the desired graduate attributes of being work-ready, life-ready and world-ready.

Invariably a number of challenges were faced, especially in scaling-up the learning experience for all students, logistical difficulties, and lack of multi-disciplinarity in terms of student involvement. In summary, these are outlines as well as future proposals to further strengthen our effort in this important curriculum area.

Proceedings of the 10th International CDIO Conference, Barcelona, Spain, June 15-19 2014

Authors (New): 
Singapore Polytechnic, Singapore
Sustainable development
Chemical Engineering
design thinking
CDIO Standard 3
CDIO Standard 7
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