An Education Program in Support of a Sustainable Future

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



The historical evolution and current status of sustainability education at Michigan Technological University is described. The history considers the last 15 years, during which, the faculty of Michigan Tech have been collaborating on the development of environmental curricula and courses. This development effort initially focused on specialized offerings for the environmental/chemical engineering programs. With time, recognition of the importance of environmental issues (wastes, natural resources, energy, etc.) to other disciplines across the campus grew. For example, chemists, biologists, foresters, etc. each have a role in characterizing the behavior of ecological systems. Engineering disciplines that are focused on the design of products, processes, or systems influence long term societal sustainability. Social scientists must understand the relationships/linkages between the environment, industry, citizens, and government. Greener products, environmentally responsible processes, life cycle thinking, and environmental stewardship need to become part of the modern lexicon of globally aware students. Faculty from diverse disciplines across the campus are now collaborating to develop courses and modify curricula to educate students with respect to the triple bottom line (i.e., sustainable economic, societal, and environmental future). Problems associated with the traditional education paradigm are discussed. A new education model aimed at training students to create a sustainable future is proposed.

Publication Title

American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Manufacturing Engineering Division, MED