Applying sustainability into engineering curriculum under the background of “new engineering education” (NEE)

Zejing Qu*, Wen Huang, Zhengjun Zhou

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The purpose of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness of applying sustainability to the engineering curriculum at a university in China.

Design/methodology/approach: A new curriculum, “ethics, involvement and sustainability,” was designed and presented to engineering students from an undergraduate major in quality management engineering. This curriculum incorporated knowledge acquisition and skills training into sustainability via various teaching approaches in a mandatory curriculum at Tongling University, China. Pre- and post-questionnaire surveys, as well as a fuzzy comprehensive evaluation model, were adopted to evaluate the changes in knowledge, attitudes and behaviors of respondents before and after curriculum implementation.

Findings: Significant changes in knowledge and attitudes were observed following the implementation of the curriculum. In terms of the development of new behaviors, the changes tended to be moderate. Generally, respondents were satisfied with the effectiveness of the new interdisciplinary curriculum post-implementation.

Practical implications: Positive results were observed for the pilot and practice of the new engineering education (NEE) strategy at the cooperating university in China. Specifically, the integration of sustainability into curriculum design, implementation and evaluation inspired greater social responsibility in engineering students’ decision-making processes. Additionally, it shed light on how to integrate the concept of sustainability into curricula. One limitation of this study was the absence of a comparison group that did not experience the new curriculum.

Originality/value: Scant attention has been paid to local universities in the context of the newly-launched NEE strategy. This study provides new insight regarding the implementation of sustainability into engineering curricula and practice via formal, but diversified, teaching approaches.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1169-1187
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 9 Sep 2020


  • Curriculum reform and innovation
  • Engineering curriculum
  • NEE
  • Sustainability
  • Tongling University


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