28 October 2015

UCL chemical engineers win new sustainability teaching prize

UCL Student team

The department of chemical engineering at University College London (UCL) is the first recipient of the Institution of Chemical Engineers’ (IChemE) new Sustainability Teaching Award.

The annual award was created to encourage better approaches of integrating sustainability principles and values into undergraduate teaching.

Created jointly by IChemE’s Sustainability and Education Special Interest Groups, it was open to all chemical engineering departments offering IChemE accredited courses – in total, 59 universities and around 220 programmes worldwide.

“We were highly impressed with the strength of entries for this new award,” said the judging panel chair, Malcolm Wilkinson. “UCL’s particular strength was to use scenario-based learning to introduce sustainability principles in the first year of undergraduate teaching, before students have gained much chemical engineering knowledge. These concepts are then built on throughout the course.”

The judges were looking for new approaches to the incorporation of sustainability principles into mainstream teaching, rather than adding “sustainability modules” onto an existing syllabus.
“Students need to acquire a set of values that they can apply in their future professional careers,” Wilkinson said.

“We are very honoured to win this inaugural award” said Eva Sorensen, UCL’s Department of Chemical Engineering Deputy Head (Education). “We have recently undergone a reorganisation of our undergraduate programme, with an extensive use of scenario-based learning and projects that focus strongly on major societal challenges, sustainability and safety.”

Sorensen continued; “The impact is already noticeable, with students being far more motivated and having a much clearer appreciation of their responsibilities the chemical engineers of the future.”

The judges also highly commended the School of Chemical Engineering and Advanced Materials at Newcastle University, UK. The department uses case studies and workshops to teach the concepts, methods and principles of sustainability.

IChemE plans to publish a collection of good practice case studies, based on the winning and highly commended entries for the prize.

Further information about the IChemE Sustainability Teaching Award and details on how to enter can be found here.

My IChemE

IChemE is a registered charity in England & Wales (214379), and a charity registered in Scotland (SC 039661).