Conference Agenda

Overview and details of the sessions of this conference. Please select a date or location to show only sessions at that day or location. Please select a single session for detailed view (with abstracts and downloads if available).

Session Overview
SE-2: Designing Sustainability Curriculum
Wednesday, 22/June/2022:
9:00am - 10:30am

Session Chair: Opeoluwa Wonuola Olawale
Session Chair: Cuihong Song
Location: Rhapsody Ballroom

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9:00am - 9:18am

Using the 17 UN SDGs to Teach Sustainability: The case of a regional comprehensive university

Nelson Granda Marulanda

Western Carolina University, United States of America

In 2015 the United Nations adopted and released the Agenda 2030, including the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These Goals are guidelines to all developed and developing countries to provide and create a sustainable environment for their citizens. In the United States, these goals are not often included in a college-level curriculum unless they are in a sustainability-related major. This work will showcase the methodology used to teach a first-year Sustainability and Technology course housed in the College of Engineering at WCU. The course was designed using the four dimensions of Global Competencies presented by OECD & Asia Society (“Investigate the World”, “Recognize Perspectives”, “Communicate Ideas”, and “Take Action”) and the 17 SDGs, making emphasis on global and regional issues. The 17 SDGs functioned as catalyzers for creating discussion and engaging the students throughout the semester and the base for the final project. We expect to discuss how this method can be replicated in other institutions.

9:18am - 9:36am

A MOOC on Sustainable Management of Critical Raw Materials

Stefano Cucurachi1, Alessandra Hool2

1Leiden University, Netherlands, The; 2ESM Foundation, Switzerland

In the EIT RawMaterials funded project SusCritMOOC (, the project partners ESM Foundation, TU Delft, Uni Leiden, Uni Bordeaux, Fraunhofer, BRGM, BGS, Outotec, Empa, and Ansys worked together in an interdisciplinary consortium to develop a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on the sustainable management of critical raw materials. The MOOC is accessible to learners from all over the globe on The MOOC enables learners to understand the demand for critical raw materials accelerated by the green energy transition and familiarize themselves with various tools to assess and evaluate demand trends, supply risks, and environmental and social impacts across the value chain. Participants can choose from three tracks that cover different angles on solutions, taking a technical, a systemic, or a policy approach. Good practice examples from the industrial sector are included at the end of the course. After a first scheduled seven-week run of the MOOC in 2021, a self-paced run has started in February 2022.

In this contribution, we will reflect on the first runs of the MOOC and will attempt to draw general conclusions about teaching sustainability in MOOCs. Our major learnings from the course so far, and from the comparison with other MOOCs, are that a) telling from the number of participants (around 1200 so far), the topic is overall of medium interest, b) most of our learners are progressed in their career, and 70% have a Masters Degree or PhD; and c) the level of interaction of learners with the course material, and level of depth of their contributions, is comparably high. Questions on economic growth and sufficiency as well as ecological impacts of mining appeared to be of particular interest to the learners.

9:36am - 9:54am

Integrating Sustainability into Capstone Senior design

Rui Shi

Penn State

Chemical plant design is part of the core chemical engineering curriculum. During this course, student teams work to design a chemical or bioprocessing manufacturing plant. Traditional, the objective of the course is to expose students to basic concepts in engineering economics, plant design, and safety features. By the end of the course, the students will be able to develop a production pathway and perform a complete economic analysis of the plant. We believe that sustainability is inherently a part of design, as such, in 2021, we developed course modules on sustainability assessment and implemented into the senior design course. In preparing course materials, we particularly outlined how to link process metrics with environmental metrics, evaluate the trade-offs across different dimensions of sustainability, calculate greenhouse gas emissions, etc. Throughout the semester, we guided students to identify different options for industrial-scale production based on recent parents and findings in research, develop conceptual processes, evaluate the industrial feasibility, and perform gate-to-gate life cycle analysis to assess the environmental impacts. The course modules will continue to evolve and improve over time. We find the efforts of integrating sustainability concepts into design courses to be rewarding and these have been well received by the students.

9:54am - 10:12am

(Pre-recorded) Opportunities to Advance Earth System Science at the National Science Foundation

Brent Robert Heard

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, United States of America

This presentation builds on the recent National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report Next Generation Earth Systems Science at the National Science Foundation, highlighting a compelling vision for a systems approach to studying the Earth and the education, funding, infrastructure, coordinating mechanisms, computing, and workforce development needed to support this vision. The presentation will provide an overview of the key characteristics of earth systems science developed by this National Academies committee, and their recommendations for advancing them.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has played a key role in advancing understanding of Earth's systems by funding research on atmospheric, ocean, hydrologic, geologic, polar, ecosystem, social, and engineering-related processes. Today, however, those systems are increasingly altered by human technologies and activities. Academic understanding has struggled to keep pace with the speed and magnitude of human-driven changes, necessitating increased and improved convergence research spanning environmental science and engineering.

Committee members creating this report span all major components of the Earth system (including the atmosphere, hydrosphere, geosphere, cryosphere, biosphere, and the individuals, institutions, and technologies that respond to and influence these dynamics). This study has a particular focus on convergence and integrated environmental science and engineering topics, with the goal of lowering institutional and cultural barriers to engagement across traditional scientific disciplines and advancing transdisciplinary efforts that foster greater understanding of the interdependencies among the Earth system components.

Given the urgency of understanding human-driven changes, NSF will need to sustain and expand its efforts to achieve greater impact. This pressure necessitates a next-generation Earth systems science initiative that emphasizes research on complex interconnections and feedbacks between natural and social processes. This will require NSF to place an increased emphasis on research inspired by real-world problems while maintaining their strong legacy of curiosity driven research across many disciplines – as well as enhance the participation of social, engineering, and data scientists, and strengthen efforts to include diverse perspectives in research.

10:12am - 10:30am

(Pre-recorded) Lessons learned from CIRODD’s first Summer School on societal transformation

Chloé Barrette Bennington

Interdisciplinary Research Centre in Operationalizing Sustainable Development (CIRODD), Canada

CIRODD's Summer School on Societal Transformation is an intensive, experiential, inter-university, accredited graduate and postgraduate course aimed at accelerating the transfer of knowledge and skills in sustainability education.

Through capacity and behaviour change, the Summer School aimed to develop the five key competencies of the UNESCO-recognized theoretical framework of Wiek et al. (2011) for the operationalization of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It aims to train students who are more empowered to lead the changes needed to address the climate emergency. Linking the theoretical framework with the SDGs allows for a systemic vision of sustainable development. The training also offers an opportunity to localize the issues through real-life case studies.

Our ongoing research, presentation, and evaluation of the project aim to further understand and demonstrate how a pedagogical approach, such as the one provided by this summer school, can deepen the knowledge of future decision makers to face the climate emergency.

*Interdisciplinary research center on the operationalization of sustainable development


Wiek, A., Withycombe, L., & Redman, C. L. (2011). Key competencies in sustainability: a reference framework for academic program development. Sustainability science, 6(2), 203-218.

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