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Project Lead:


Dr Aisling O’Gorman (Aisling.ogorman@mtu.ie)

Project Status

In Progress

Project Lead Home Department:

MTU Cork - Mechanical, Electrical and Process Engineering - Centre of Craft Studies

Alignment to HEA and NFETLHE SATLE 2022-23 Themes

Education for Sustainable Development (ESD);

Alignment to MTU Strategy Themes

  • Learner Education & Experience;
  • People & Community;
  • Leading Regional Development;

Project Description

The Department of Process, Energy and Transport Engineering in MTU Cork delivers two programmes that have a strong focus on meeting the needs of society through sustainable development. In the Chemical and Biopharmaceutical Engineering programme, students learn to apply systems-thinking, placing them in a strong position to help with the challenges in meeting many of the UN SDG’s, in particular Good Health and Well-Being, Clean Water and Sanitation, Affordable and Clean Energy and Responsible Consumption and Production. The SEE programme is designed to meet the needs of society in the area of renewables including wind energy, ocean and hydro energy and solar energy all within the context of dealing with the challenges of sustainable development.

It has been found that it is not necessary to develop new modules to include in already over-loaded engineering programmes to provide education in sustainable development (ESD) (Rubio et al. 2019). What is required instead is curriculum renewal.

The learner dimension must not be lost in this approach. Hermes & Rimanoczy (2018) identified three key dimensions of a sustainability mindset as systemic thinking, innovative thinking and being, and learners must be prepared to become critical and responsible members of society.

In addition, creating opportunities for dialogue with external stakeholders on their experience of sustainable development informs and enriches both learners and academic staff and the curriculum.

Rapid Curriculum Renewal for Sustainability (RCRS) is one approach used for curriculum renewal in the area of education for sustainable development (Desha and Hargroves, 2010), and includes elements such as identifying graduate attributes and mapping the curriculum against these attributes.

In this project, it is proposed to apply a revised RCRS approach to two engineering programmes by focusing on three main objectives that are expanded to incorporate the development of a sustainability mindset for the learner and outreach with different categories of external stakeholders. This is to be achieved through a student-staff partnership.

The key objectives of this project are as follows

  1. Awareness raising and developing a common understanding of ESD for both staff and students
  2. Bridging and outreach with industry and other stakeholders
  3. First pass on strategic content renewal incorporating the development of the learner mindset informed by dialogue with external stakeholders


Desha, C. and Hargroves, K. (2010), Rapid Curriculum Renewal in Engineering: Issues, challenges and opportunities for development, UNESCO report, pp343-345

Hermes, J. and Rimanoczy, I. (2018), Deep Learning for a Sustainability Mindset, International Journal of Management Education, 16 (3), 460-467

Rubio, R.M., Uribe, D., Moreno-Romero, A. and Yanez, S. (2019),

What is the anticipated impact of this project?

The anticipanted impacts are as follows:

  • On those who teach
    • Peer-to-peer learning, knowledge-building in the area of ESD
    • Removal of barriers to the renewal of curricula in this area
    • Clarification of learner needs
    • Focus on the development of the learner sustainability mindset
    • Strengthened partnerships with industry and other external stakeholders
    • Greater understanding of current industrial practice to meet the UN SDG’s and the challenges that lie ahead combined with feedback from other external stakeholders (regulatory bodies, community etc.)
    • Interviews with external stakeholders as resources
    • Identification of possibilities for interdisciplinary collaboration and continued dialogue with external stakeholders
  • On those who learn
    • Greater awareness of sustainable development
    • Clarification of their needs so that they may develop the skills to become active global citizens
    • Greater understanding of current industrial practice to meet the UN SDG’s and the challenges that lie ahead combined with feedback from other external stakeholders (regulatory bodies, community etc.)
    • Modules with sustainability clearly signposted
    • Scaffolding of mindset for sustainability throughout the curriculum – innovation, critical reflection, questioning of the status quo
    • Empowerment and motivation due to student-staff partnership approach
  • On External Stakeholders
    • Partnership approach and involvement in a learning community
    • Contribution to learner attributes

What will the outputs of this project be?

The project will produce the following outputs:

  • Results of surveys and focus groups
  • “Conversations on Sustainability” as resources
  • Testing of approach that may be applied to other areas
  • Enhanced focus on ESD and development of sustainability mindset in two engineering programmes

Team Members:

  • Aisling O’Gorman, Chemical Engineering, PET dept, MTU Cork
  • Brian Cott and Alex Krok from chemical engineering as team members, PET dept, MTU Cork
  • Maria Cullinane, Sustainable Energy Engineering, PET dept, MTU Cork
  • Brian Quin and Adrian O'Sullivan from sustainable energy engineering, PET dept, MTU Cork
  • Six student partners to be recruited for this project: 3 from chemical engineering and 3 from sustainable energy engineering.

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