Decisions, judgements and agency : preparing engineering graduates to think their own way through the climate crisis

Haw, Mark and Pisani, Steven and Dosapati, Hasini and Alqattan, Sara; (2022) Decisions, judgements and agency : preparing engineering graduates to think their own way through the climate crisis. In: Proceedings of the 8th International Symposium for Engineering Education. University of Strathclyde, Glasgow. ISBN 9781914241208

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The careers of the next generations of graduates, across all disciplines but perhaps particularly so in engineering, will involve many difficult judgements and decisions related to mitigating the consequences of climate change. How graduates deal with agency—the capacity and responsibility to make one’s own decisions and cope with their consequences—will therefore be central to converting our society toward a sustainable state. We examine the responses and attitudes of current students enrolled on a typical chemical engineering BEng/MEng degree, to learning activities with differing degrees of agency. We consider students’ perception of agency in the current curriculum from a variety of perspectives and methods, ranging from whole-course perception, to experiences in a specific learning activity focussed on mitigation of climate change, designed particularly to engage students in developing and making their own decisions and judgements, ie to recognise and exercise their own agency in problem-solving. We study how student cohorts perceive their experiences through the lens of agency, and what coping strategies they develop. We draw some preliminary observations and conclusions about how prepared to cope with future high agency challenges students feel as we aim toward a degree experience that maximises engineering graduates’ readiness to combat the impact of climate change.

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