Benchmarking Sustainability Engineering Education

EPA Grant Number: X3832351
Title: Benchmarking Sustainability Engineering Education
Investigators: Allen, David T. , Murphy, Cynthia F. , Davidson, Cliff I. , Allenby, Braden
Institution: The University of Texas at Austin , Carnegie Mellon University , Arizona State University - Main Campus
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Project Period: January 12, 2005 through January 22, 2007
Project Amount: $350,000
RFA: Benchmarking the Integration of Sustainability into Engineering Curricula at U.S. Institutions of Higher Education (2004) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Engineering and Environmental Chemistry , Sustainability


The goals of this project are to develop and apply a methodology for benchmarking curricula in sustainability engineering and to identify individuals active in sustainability engineering education.


The data to be collected in the benchmarking activity will be refined through a series of questionnaire activities as defined in the methods section. Initial assessments will collect data that include (1) curricula development activities, (2) sustainability centers and institutes, (3) conferences related to sustainability, (4) institutional support, (5) opportunities to pursue concentrations or joint degrees, (6) faculty position titles that include sustainability, and (7) guest lectures and seminars.


The methods to be used in benchmarking educational practices will apply two types of information gathering tools, namely formal questionnaires and website/literature reviews augmented by interviews when needed. The formal questionnaires will be designed to assess the coverage of sustainability engineering concepts in engineering curricula; the website/literature reviews will identify faculty who use sustainability engineering tools in their research and other activities and practicing engineers who use sustainability engineering in their job activities. Each of these tools will be applied, sequentially, to assessing the practices of four communities. The first community is the group of institutions involved in this proposal. Applying questionnaire instruments and search tools to this limited population will allow the tools to be refined before they are used in broader populations. The second community is a population of several hundred faculty members already known to be active in sustainability engineering education. It is anticipated that this audience will be willing to provide detailed information and documentation about their activities. The third community is the set of all ~1500 accredited engineering programs and departments at U.S. colleges and universities. The fourth community consists of practicing engineers actively using sustainability engineering tools. Unlike the first three communities which are used to assess the current status of sustainability engineering education, the practicing engineers will help identify sustainability engineering skills that will be needed by students as they graduate and begin to practice their profession.

Expected Results:

Our approach to assessing excellence in this project will be to convene an assessment committee that will identify key criteria for best practices and that will identify leading practitioners. Suggestions for the composition and method of operation of this committee are provided in the proposal.

Supplemental Keywords:

survey, life cycles, industrial ecology, design for environment,, RFA, Scientific Discipline, INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION, TREATMENT/CONTROL, Sustainable Industry/Business, Sustainable Environment, Technology, Technology for Sustainable Environment, pollution prevention, Environmental Engineering, cleaner production, sustainable development, environmentally conscious manufacturing, clean technologies, education, environmental sustainability, ecological design, engineering, pollution prevention design, Design for Environment, environmental education, environmentally conscious design

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2005
  • 2006
  • Final