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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

Studying at Cambridge


ESD MPhil students debate on Dirty Industries

last modified Feb 20, 2018 05:02 PM
Debate on dirty industries (description by Jof Ruxton)
ESD MPhil students debate on Dirty Industries

Photo credit: Owen

On Wednesday 7th February, students participated in a lively debate on the topic: "Dirty industries, do we really need them or can we do without them?”. The afternoon was started off with a thought-provoking talk from Caroline Still who shared her experience in South Africa in the mining industry followed by the main debate.

Interestingly, the debate pre-vote indicated people were in favour of banning dirty industries. However, after the debate the class voted to retain 'dirty industries’. This acknowledged the majority opinion that mining and oil & gas will be required for the foreseeable future, although industries need to ‘clean up’ their businesses and act in an environmentally sensitive way.

An interesting range of questions were asked by the class during the debate, with opportunities for individuals to share their wealth of experience prior to Cambridge. Many of the panel had no previous experience debating, further adding to the fun and learning opportunity!

We look forward to our next debate on the future of nuclear energy.

Key Themes of the Course


The need to engage in better problem definition through careful dialogue with all stakeholder groups and a proper recognition of context.


An ability to work with specialists from other disciplines and professional groups acknowledging that technical innovation and business skills also must be understood, nurtured and combined as precursors to the successful implementation of sustainable solutions


An understanding of mechanisms for managing change in organisations so future engineers are equipped to play a leadership role.


An awareness of a range of assessment frameworks, sustainability metrics and methodologies such as Life Cycle Analysis, Systems Dynamics, Multi-Criteria Decision making and Impact Assessment.