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ESD150 Driving Change Towards Sustainability


ESD 150

     Driving change towards Sustainability

 Leader:       Dr Dai Morgan

Timing:       Lent Term

Structure:               Eight 2-hour sessions in Weeks 1 to 8: plus coursework assignments and associated seminars, plus 3 day role play/select committee (To be held 11, 12, 13, December 2018. Final Dates and times TBA) and change challenge starting in Michaelmas.


The emphasis in this module is on dealing with qualitative issues and understanding ethical positions surrounding the concept of sustainable development, as well as how individuals can take personal responsibility to deliver real change through formal and informal processes.  An underlying theme will be to explain why engineers need to engage in problem definition, through careful dialogue with all stakeholder groups, through a proper recognition of the context in which engineering solutions are formulated and delivered.

The course aims to challenge ways in which engineers think about problems and encourages a move from a reductionist attitude to the adoption of a complex systems approach which recognises growing uncertainties, for example when faced with the need for decision making in the absence of complete information or evidence. It also deals with change by challenging orthodoxy and studying how change can be implanted in organisations, and deals with people through understanding consultation processes and developing negotiation skills.

Key themes:

Dealing with complexity requires a systems approach

Dealing with change by challenging orthodoxy when it is rooted in 20th Century criteria

Dealing with people through consultation processes and negotiation


Review drivers for sustainability (climate change resource depletion, population growth, biodiversity loss, pollution, economic imbalances and poverty) and complex system level pressures (global, social, environmental, economic and ethical challenges). Examine social, government and technology responses (consumer behaviour, policy and engineering responses)

Strategy and change management for sustainability, theories and concepts about organisation structure and change (e.g. top down vs bottom up, machine vs organism, power structure), and roles of individual change agents. Embedding sustainability in organisations, taking leadership roles. Participating in a personal change challenge to gain experience through action learning.

The role and value of ethics collectively in engineering organisations and professional institutions and through individual behaviour, and trends towards greater transparency, accountability and sustainability reporting, human rights, and dealing with corruption.

Stakeholder engagement, and managing multi stakeholder groups and processes. Stakeholder dialogue in problem definition. Participatory and adversarial planning processes, negotiation and consensus building. The role of value-judgements in defining problems and implementing engineering solutions;

Learning Objectives (also supported through the Seminar Programme and other related activities including the self-reflective learning logs)

Students should be able to critique the design, procurement and delivery of engineered products and services within an ethical and sustainability framework for a given context.

Students should be able to analyse the context in which a business is operating, including the industry and planning systems. Students should be able to generate and evaluate strategies for change management in an organisation. This may include Identifying the context in which change is to be enacted, selecting appropriate tools for the change, reflecting on outcomes of actions and adapting plans and strategies accordingly.

To provide opportunity for experiential learning from acting as an individual change agent.

To engage with the mutual gains approach to negotiation and consensus building.

Students should be able to examine evidence and critically evaluate responses as part of a inquiry based dialogue.

Assessment:  100% coursework

Indicative items (may vary from year to year):

2 submissions covering

i) A reflective piece based on practical activities

ii) An organisational change strategy


NB.  Coursework submissions are intentionally open ended, in some cases allowing the freedom for students to adapt briefs to reflect their own engineering backgrounds, interests and aspirations as well as seeking a demonstration of understanding of any specific techniques or frameworks involved, clarity of argument and reasoning, novelty and originality in arriving at a response, reference to both an engineering and sustainability context, and a reflection on the process and outcomes achieved.
Detailed criteria by which the work will be assessed are provided on the individual assignment briefing sheets issued at the start of the teaching of each module.


NB: Modules and structure of the MPhil are subject to change year on year. This information is representative of the 18-19 structure but options may not be available in future years.