Conference Themes

Building a circular economy together.
Despite the differences in vision on society, there is a growing recognition that globally several megaforces can be observed that have an impact on the society at regional and local level. Population growth, urbanization and the increase in the purchasing power of the middle class in emerging countries lead to a huge demand for resources (fossil fuels, metals, biomass...) in order to meet the production and consumption needs. The results are volatile but increasing prices and uncertainties in supply. Facing the threats of climate change societies have been choosing, inter alia, to expand the sector of renewable energy. As a result all these developments the demand for resources (metals, biomass …) has indeed further increased. The pressure on ecosystems is immense, food systems are threatened, biodiversity is decreasing, etc. From this observation it becomes clear that the current globalised throughput economy cannot be placed in a context of sustainable development and should urgently be replaced by a circular economy.

Succeeding in a transition never experienced before and on a short notice will require a societal support from all stakeholders. Therefore the so-called triple helix, where university, industry and government are setting up relationships, is not suitable anymore for the challenges ahead of us: all actors need to be involved in this technological and societal innovation. 1 Moving ‘Beyond the triple helix’ means the involvement as well of the civil society at large, the trade unions, etc. 2

The engineer needs to develop capabilities to perform within these complex settings of society. Formal engineering education is the start to prepare young people for this challenging task. Lifelong learning should train engineers on the job to take into account these challenges in their daily work.

The call for submissions and the programme of EESD 2016 is organised along these lines.

Key Questions
The conference organisers ask authors and delegates to consider the following key questions regarding
engineering education for sustainable development when submitting an abstract.

  • Circular Economy: how is design for scarcity or recycling for scarcity introduced into the curriculum of engineers? what about the inter- and intrasectoral competition for resources?
  • Technological and societal innovation: how does it influence the curriculum of engineers? what about stakeholder involvement? what is the role of engineering in the sustainability transition processes? how is engineering education dealing with it?
  • Organisational change: how technical universities/faculties/departments can change their management in function of EESD?
  • Multi-, inter- and transdisciplinarity: how are courses set up for developing these capabilities? how far does this multi-, inter- and transdisciplinarity work in practice?
  • Innovative teaching technology/organisation: are there good examples in engineering education of ‘massive open online courses’ (MOOCs), ‘small private online courses’ (SPOC’s), ‘open educational resources’ (OER’s), virtual communities of practise (VCoP’s), etc.?
  • Lifelong learning: are the examples of on the job training to cope with the described challenges?

Please keep the conference theme in mind (‘Building a circular economy together.’) when addressing one of the key questions in the suggested abstract.

1 "The concept of the Triple Helix of university-industry-government relationships initiated in the 1990s by Etzkowitz (1993) and Etzkowitz and Leydesdorff (1995), encompassing elements of precursor works by Lowe (1982) and Sábato and Mackenzi (1982), interprets the shift from a dominating industry-government dyad in the Industrial Society to a growing triadic relationship between university-industry-government in the Knowledge Society.” dixit the Triple Helix Research Group of the Stanford University (see

2 E.g. Carayannis E. and Rakhmatullin R., The Quadruple/Quintuple Innovation Helixes and Smart Specialisation Strategies for Sustainable and Inclusive Growth in Europe and beyond, pp. 42-60; in European Commission, (2014), Open Innovation 2.0 – Yearbook 2014. European Commission, Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology, 149 pp.

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