learn from the world and return to the community, Manufacturing and environmental technology education

Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)

What is ESD?

The 57th UN General Assembly approved the proposal from the Japanese government and NGOs at the Johannesburg Summit (World Summit on Sustainable Development) held in 2002. The proposal concerns the implementation of ESD throughout the world between 2005 and 2014, designating the period as the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (UNDESD).

UNESCO, a leading international institution for ESD, adopted the International Implementation Scheme for the United Nations Decade for Education for Sustainable Development (PDF) in August 2005, and the Japanese government announced the Implementation Scheme for the United Natiosn Decade for ESD in Japan in March 2006.

Modern Good Practice (GP) – a support program for contemporary educational needs – is created against this background as a part of educational reformation at high schools. We, as higher educational institutions, aim for the development of innovative programs for education for sustainable development (ESD) for engineer training in cooperation with internal and external educational institutions, NPOs, public administrations, and companies.

What is education for sustainable development (ESD) for engineer training?

Existing educational
Target Change of individual attitudes Change of social economic structures and lifestyles
Awareness, knowledge, understanding, skill Sense of morality, future-oriented, participation
Critical review, ability to take action
Method Top-down Bottom-up
Result-oriented Process-oriented
Quantitative value Qualitative value
Teacher-centered education Student-centered education
Control Nurture

Existing environmental education and ESD (Osamu Abe, ESD-J2003 Activity report)

Japan is a world leader in the field of advanced technology for the promotion of high energy resource efficiency. However, competition with countries in Asia in home appliances is currently increasing, and this requires the development of a sense of manufacturing suitable for various cultures.

At the national colleges of technology, institutions with the mission of sending engineers to the manufacturing industry throughout the world, expectations are high for achievement in environmental education corresponding to such a situation. However, existing environmental education provided to students specializing in the sciences generally use an educational method known as “problem solving” which is seen in the measures taken against environmental pollution used in the past. This is education that teaches individual student existing techniques to solve environmental problems occurring or developing at the moment.

Meanwhile, future environmental education is expected to be based on the perspective of technological development; for example, technology that allows groups of people to maintain their traditional cultures and produce less environmental load without reducing the quality of life. In order to do so, environmental education is required to perceive destruction of environment, which has progressed on a global scale, as a complex problem who cause lies in various social issues, and to develop an attitude and behavior that allows individuals to work on problem solving with people in different cultures throughout the world. This is the education of creating technology together.

Target ability of ESD for engineer training

Fig.1 Basic concept and abilities mastered through ESD for engineers

This program is environmental education which can be called problem-identification and solving designed to help students break away from the existing problem solving methods, to encourage students to ask question, to find their own projects, to work actively and creatively, and develop comprehensive abilities that enable them to return their achievements to society.

The comprehensive abilities to be achieved through this program as the educational effect of this program are the mastery of knowledge, attitude and behavior based on the fundamental concepts of the program, as is shown in Fig.1. It is believed that it is more effective for the development of such abilities to instill the contents of education into 15-year-old minds and bodies by focusing on real experience rather than on lectures.

Educational methods in ESD for engineer training

Fig.2 Student learning image I and abilities required for teachers

The method used in education is generally teacher-oriented in which teachers provide knowledge to learners. In this method, teachers exercise the initiative in the selection of assignments and learning processes; therefore, teachers are the subject and students are the object. In this program, we adopt the mutual learning method implemented for group study in the PBL and experimental training classes, and this ingenious attempt to improve educational methods makes it possible to develop comprehensive ability in engineers (Fig.1), an ability that is difficult to master from teacher-oriented study.

It is often said that students cannot sufficiently master technical knowledge through the mutual learning method. However, various research studies carried out at the Toyama National College of Technology revealed the following: In the existing method, shown in Fig.2, it is thought that if a teacher demonstrates sufficient technical knowledge and the teaching method is proficient, student achievement will steadily progress. However, in reality, students cannot identify the meaning of such study and are forced to engage in rote memorization, which results in an increase of students who do not like studying. As a result, schools head in the direction of a decrease in the quality and quantity of the assignments to be learned.

Fig.3 Student learning image II and abilities required for teachers

Meanwhile, the image of the students’ learning in this program is marked-out type shown in Fig.3. The disadvantage of this method is that it may leave a significant amount of space empty, as shown in the figure to the left in Fig.3. In order to prevent this, teachers are required to support student learning by serving as cognitive or meta-cognitive coaches. Results in the PBL classes carried out at the Toyama National College of Technology revealed that if teachers master and exercise such coaching abilities, student motivation for studying increases and high-quality self-directed learning suitable for individuals actively begins.

The Toyama National College of Technology currently engages in interaction with universities in the EU and works on FD activities to increase teaching skill. We also work on various ingenious attempts to increase teaching abilities, including acquisition of Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research based on School Education Law.

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