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Lessons Learnt from Educating University Students through a Trans-Disciplinary Project for Sustainable Sanitation Using a Systems Approach and Problem-Based Learning

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UNSW Law, UNSW Australia (formerly the University of New South Wales, Sydney), NSW 2052, Australia
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Division of Education, Arts and Social Sciences, University of South Australia, GPO Box 2471, Adelaide, SA 5001, Australia
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Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology, University of Technology Sydney, Ultimo, NSW 2007, Australia
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School of Humanities and Communication Arts, University of Western Sydney, Locked Bag 1797, Penrith, NSW 2751, Australia
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Faculty of Design, Architecture and Building, University of Technology Sydney, Ultimo, NSW 2007, Australia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
An earlier article “Sankaran, S.; Abeysuriya, K.; Gray, J.; Kachenko, A. Mellow yellow: Taking a systems thinking approach to designing research on transitioning to more sustainable sewage management. Syst. Res. Behav. Sci. 2013, doi:10.1002/sres.2227” dealt with the research design aspect of the project described in this paper. This paper deals with the educational opportunities and outcomes associated with the research project.
Systems 2014, 2(3), 243-272; https://doi.org/10.3390/systems2030243
Received: 24 December 2013 / Revised: 5 May 2014 / Accepted: 16 May 2014 / Published: 25 June 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Systems Education for a Sustainable Planet)
This article discusses how a Systems Thinking (ST) approach to student learning, employing Problem-Based Learning (PBL) interventions, at several different universities in Sydney, Australia was incorporated into a broader trans-disciplinary research project, the aim of which was to examine how urine diversion in an urban, institutional setting might form the basis of phosphorus collection—phosphorus being a non-renewable resource used in agricultural fertilizers. The article explores how the ST approach employed by the researchers themselves was adapted to embrace student engagement opportunities and how it permitted opportunities for Problem-Based Learning interventions. Five academics forming part of the research team consider the effectiveness of ST-styled student engagement via Problem-Based Learning in three action research cycles used in the research project. In sharing their experiences they provide an honest, “no-holds barred” review of what worked and what could be done more effectively with the benefits of hindsight. View Full-Text
Keywords: systems thinking; action research; systems education; legal studies; visual communication; civil and environmental engineering systems thinking; action research; systems education; legal studies; visual communication; civil and environmental engineering
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Gray, J.; Williams, J.; Hagare, P.; Lopes, A.M.; Sankaran, S. Lessons Learnt from Educating University Students through a Trans-Disciplinary Project for Sustainable Sanitation Using a Systems Approach and Problem-Based Learning. Systems 2014, 2, 243-272.

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