Embedding interdisciplinary research-based education for sustainable development in higher education through vertically integrated projects

Strachan, Scott and Logan, Louise and Marshall, Stephen; (2022) Embedding interdisciplinary research-based education for sustainable development in higher education through vertically integrated projects. In: Proceedings of the 8th International Symposium for Engineering Education. University of Strathclyde, Glasgow. ISBN 9781914241208

[thumbnail of Strachan-etal-ISEE-2022-Embedding-interdisciplinary-research-based-education-for-sustainable-development-in-higher-education]
Text. Filename: Strachan_etal_ISEE_2022_Embedding_interdisciplinary_research_based_education_for_sustainable_development_in_higher_education.pdf
Final Published Version
License: Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 logo

Download (390kB)| Preview


Historically, Universities have been regarded by employers as generators of ‘neatly boxed’ lawyers, chemists, engineers, etc. who could be (and perhaps some saw it better that they were) completely divorced from, or agnostic about, the challenges of the world around them, while operating within their own disciplinary silos. However, there is now a growing recognition across society, industry and business that such is the complexity and uncertainty associated with the global challenges of today, that these problems cannot themselves be viewed, defined or indeed solved through such a disassociated and disjointed disciplinary approach. These are not just ‘engineering’ problems, or ‘legal’ problems, or singularly social, environmental or economic problems; they are all of these and more - and at all the same time. Consequently, focusing teaching on ways of thinking, being and practicing, and so how students think, feel and act in relation to the rapidly changing world around them, should be done in a way that actively stretches students beyond the comfort of their disciplinary subject boundaries and skill sets. This makes for not only more socially aware, empathetic, emotionally intelligent, connected, cooperative and ethically responsible graduates, but ensures they are equipped with the types of disciplinary, interdisciplinary and trans-disciplinary competencies that will be required to meet the challenges required “to safeguard our social, economic and environmental wellbeing – now and for future generations” (UNESCO, 2019). This paper seeks to explain and justify, at a pedagogical level, the suitability of Strathclyde’s Vertically Integrated Projects for Sustainable Development (VIP4SD) programme as an experiential learning vehicle through which engineering undergraduates (and others) can engage in meaningful, purposeful and transformational interdisciplinary research on global sustainability challenges.

Persistent Identifier