The role of paradigms in engineering practice and education for sustainable development

Autor(en): Halbe, Johannes 
Adamowski, Jan
Pahl-Wostl, Claudia 
Stichwörter: BARRIERS; CHALLENGES; CLIMATE; DELFT-UNIVERSITY; Engineering; Engineering, Environmental; Environmental Sciences; Environmental Sciences & Ecology; FRAMEWORK; Green & Sustainable Science & Technology; Higher education; KNOWLEDGE; MANAGEMENT; Paradigms; Science & Technology - Other Topics; Sustainable development; Systems thinking; TRANSITION; WATER
Erscheinungsdatum: 2015
Volumen: 106
Startseite: 272
Seitenende: 282
Engineers have always had to deal with complex challenges. However, a profound change has occurred over the last two decades with a realization of the need to transition from a focus on technical issues to sustainability problems that require an integrated, adaptive and participatory approach. Such an engineering approach does not only necessitate new methods and tools, but also the consideration of epistemology to deal with different kinds of knowledge and high uncertainties. The concept of paradigms can support the case-specific analysis of concrete solution strategies based upon an understanding of the epistemological dimension of sustainability issues. A systematic and integrated discussion of paradigms and their interactions in engineering practice is currently lacking in the scientific literature. This paper examines the role of paradigms in engineering practice and presents a system science approach for the analysis of paradigms. A case study on sustainable flood management and a literature analysis are provided to show the relevance of multiple paradigms in sustainable development issues. Engineers should be aware of paradigms and their respective application context, as well as the particular role of the ``community involvement'' paradigm for sustainable development. We propose an iterative learning approach to continuously deepen students' understanding of participatory processes and develop their ability to facilitate stakeholder processes. An overview and some reflections on the experiences of the authors in the teaching of these new paradigms at McGill University, Canada, and the University of Osnabrueck, Germany, are provided. In particular, group model building exercises were found to provide students with important experiences regarding stakeholder interaction in the safe space of the classroom. (C) 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
ISSN: 09596526
DOI: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2015.01.093

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