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Special Issue "Emergent Approaches to Prospective Thinking for Sustainable Development in Engineering Education"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Education and Approaches".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 March 2022) | Viewed by 3138

Special Issue Editors

University Research Institute for Sustainability Science and Technology, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, 08034 Barcelona, Spain
Interests: education for sustainable development; innovation in engineering education; ethics and sustainability in engineering education; ICT4D; ICT4S; ICT cooperation projects
Institute of Educational Sciences, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, 08034 Barcelona, Spain
Interests: forward thinking methodologies for sustainable development; education for sustainable development; technologies for sustainability; philosophical practice; behavior and forward outlook in societal and institutional development

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The primary focus of this Special Issue is on education in engineering for sustainable development using a forward outlook-based approach.

When it comes to forward thinking and foresight related to engineering, the focus is usually on the design of new technologies and the governance of emergent business models. A complementary proposal would seek prospective work that goes beyond the mainstream technology push trends, to consider local and global opportunities as well as local and global societal risks associated with technological and economic development. This implies the consideration of both opportunities and disruptive and catastrophic risks beyond the environmental arena, to then include broader social impacts of technological development on the basis of critical long-term forward thinking.

Within the context of higher education in engineering, educational proposals that allow the development of competencies that include cognitive, affective, volitional and motivational elements are still scarce. In fact, one of the fundamental competency approaches today in engineering, within the rapid changing social and technological context, is the integration of skills in long-term prospective thinking for sustainable development.

This position fundamentally allows the integration of a critical and reflective outlook of a personal and professional future in a way that considers emerging community and societal structures. It will integrate reflections of the past, what happened individually and socially, and connect it with a critical analysis of the current economic and technological trends in development models.

We expect proposals in the area of engineering education that integrate a prospective view based on personal, professional and social visions of the future. This proposition would identify the potential for the integration of an outlook for the future that can guide and shape the meaning of professional work as well as the impact of professional action in the development of future sustainable societies.

Suitable topics include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • backcasting as the key word in education
  • responsible education in engineering
  • integration of “Friday for Future” in classes: students’ hopes and concerns
  • climate and social emergencies discussed in the classroom
  • how to engage students and professors in prospective thinking
  • proposals to develop socio-emotional and behavioral learning outcomes in engineering education
  • conceive-design-implement-operate (CDIO) techniques applied to Education for Sustainability in engineering education
  • practical philosophical approaches in engineering studies
  • professional and social visions of the future
  • cross-cutting competencies for sustainable development.

Dr. Eva María Vidal
Dr. Manuel Fernández López
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • future vision
  • anticipation
  • backcasting
  • self-awareness competency
  • critical thinking competency
  • strategic competency

Published Papers (1 paper)

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23 pages, 369 KiB  
Seeking Genuine Vocations through Sustainability in Chemical Engineering
Sustainability 2022, 14(12), 6980; - 07 Jun 2022
Viewed by 1888
Sustainability in education is essential in raising awareness among pupils regarding the interconnected global challenges that we are facing and, at the same time, cultivating and transforming their mindsets to embrace and adopt sustainable lifestyles. In particular, college students who might briefly encounter [...] Read more.
Sustainability in education is essential in raising awareness among pupils regarding the interconnected global challenges that we are facing and, at the same time, cultivating and transforming their mindsets to embrace and adopt sustainable lifestyles. In particular, college students who might briefly encounter sustainability issues during their courses of study would bring their values and attitudes regarding sustainability into their future workplace and beyond. In this article, we focus on sustainability in engineering education at the tertiary level, particularly in chemical engineering, and reveal how these potential engineers could seek genuine vocations when choosing their careers without compromising sustainability. The article begins with a description of what constitutes chemical engineering and its branches in plain language. It then outlines what to expect when one enrolls in a chemical engineering program as an undergraduate or graduate student. This includes the core subjects to obtain, skill sets to master, and other essential expertise that could be useful in the workplace. Since chemical engineering is one of the disciplines where the paradox of improving and impairing is conspicuous, it is also essential to delve deeper into the sustainability facet of the field, specifically in higher education. The discussion continues with career options for enthusiastic chemical engineers and how these young and early-career graduates could discover their reason for well-being and life purpose as aspiring chemical engineers, while at the same time maintaining and enhancing the sustainability in their vocations. Full article
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