The National Science Foundation (NSF) has selected an innovative University of Kentucky course design project for funding in its “Transforming Undergraduate Education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math” (TUES) program.
The three-year UK project, “Systems Thinking for Sustainability” (STFS), will offer UK students a unique opportunity to develop projects in sustainability as members of collaborative teams with colleagues from four UK colleges: Engineering, Design and Architecture, Education and Business and Economics. Together, these teams will tackle sustainability issues involving complex systems where economic, social, and technical factors interact in dynamic and challenging ways. Team-taught by faculty from the four colleges, STFS will be an essential preparation to the student’s senior capstone projects.
Learning goals for STFS students (and faculty) include (a) a better understanding of the complex cross-disciplinary socio-technical issues of sustainability, (b) an understanding of and ability to use “systems thinking” approaches to better explore these complexities, and (c) enhanced ability to communicate and collaborate successfully in cross-disciplinary projects. The PI, Dr. Dusan Sekulic, says,” Our hope and expectation is that learning a systems approach to solving problems in sustainability areas will help students develop the perspectives and skills they need to work together in an increasingly crossdisciplinary world where we face increasingly complex problems like the transition to sustainability.” Dr. Sekulic notes that progress is already being made in one key STFS goal: to disseminate the course template for adoption elsewhere. He has already had interest from universities in the U.S. and in India and will be flying to Switzerland in December to discuss collaboration with the Bern University of Applied Sciences.
The PI and his co-PIs, Drs. Leslie Vincent (Gatton College), Fazleena Badurdeen (Engineering), Greg Luhan (Architecture) and Margaret Mohr (Education), will offer the new course for the first time in Spring 2012. UK Juniors in the four colleges who are interested in the course should contact the PI for further information. Inquiries from interested faculty are also welcome.