National Geographic : understand civil engineering differently

Murray, Michael and Ross, Stuart (2014) National Geographic : understand civil engineering differently. Proceedings of the ICE - Engineering Sustainability, 167 (2). 76–87. ISSN 1478-4629

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    Our undergraduate civil engineering students have access to a rich and diverse bank of textual and graphical knowledge concerning their chosen profession. However, over a number of decades, commentators have raised concerns that our students have insufficient understanding of the role of civil engineering in society. Indeed, the call for universities to educate ‘global engineers’ emphasises the need for our students to be schooled in the humanities, in parallel with their core computational studies. Unfortunately, engineering students in particular, are not accustomed to regular exploratory reading. This paper considers the use of the National Geographic magazine as a means to ignite our students’ curiosity with the world around them. The results from a pilot study and a content analysis of a number of editions from over a decade shows that this periodical regularly carries themes directly concerning the impact of civil engineering in society, be it political , financial environmental , social or ecological.