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Plan of environment & sustainable development at Comillas University

Aiming to spread and develop a social awareness on Sustainable Development at the University, this activity intends to design, to propose to University authorities and, if passed, to implement an Environmental and Sustainable Development Plan at Comillas University. Actually, the main incidence of the University in society takes place through its graduates. In the long run, this plan seeks to train and make the future professionals who are studying at our University aware of all that concerns Sustainable Development. Although the Plan claims promoting Sustainable Development as its main objective, environmental elements will have priority since they are more clearly understood by the public and easier to be implemented.

This Plan will be designed taking into account similar experiences in other Universities, particularly the results achieved by the Universidad Politécnica de Cataluña, which stands out as a clear example. The Plan will include the following elements:

1. Undergraduate courses

The goal is to include suitable Environmental & Sustainable Development issues (E&SD) in our students' training, specifically in the program of the existing subjects of undergraduate courses. The steps to be followed are:

  • To establish the required profile of E & SD knowledge for each degree;
  • To design the curriculum which meets this requirement;
  • To design an action plan in the short term to prepare, if necessary, the faculty members to teach the needed topics.

In addition, Departments can design their own plan where their priority lines, targets and actions are developed according with the previous points.

The Chair's website will be a useful tool for both the students and professors. It will provide specific links for each subject to bibliography, support material, websites with relevant issues about E&SD and some other useful resources for sustainability education, such as specific problem collections.

Other possibilities are to offer free configuration subjects about E&SD, as well as formation courses about E&SD for professors or seminars aimed at students.

2. Graduation Theses

An interesting issue, particularly suitable to addressing Environment & Sustainable Development topics, is the graduation theses that engineering students have to prepare to obtain their degree. Although it formally belongs to undergraduate courses, already mentioned in the previous section, it deserves a specific treatment. The objective is that every thesis, as far as it is reasonable, includes explicitly suitable considerations of E&SD. A guide for professors and students to facilitate the inclusion of these issues to the theses will be developed. A group of professors concerned with this activity, who may provide support to both thesis directors and students will also be coordinated from the Chair.

Furthermore, the Chair have instituted an annual award for the thesis with a deeper approach to the E&SD topic. It is the "BP Chair award to the Sustainability of Graduation Theses". Although in the first edition it will be limited to the Comillas University Engineering School, in successive years it might be open to the participation of students from engineering schools of other Universities or to dissertations, graduation theses or even doctoral theses from other Faculties or Schools.

3. Doctorate and graduate courses

The aim is either offering doctorate and graduate courses which specifically deal with Environment & Sustainable Development, or include the E&SD issues in the most suitable manner in the existing subjects, as it has been detailed for undergraduate courses. The University may study the possibility of offering in the future a master o even intensify existing doctorate programs in this way. We will set out from the current situation in the Comillas University, in which there are significant activities running in this field, specially the Sustainable Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Help Master's degree.

4. Research

A primary task would involve listing an inventory of significantily linked to E&SD research carried out in the Univerisity. On this basis, common actions and directions might be planned in future lines of research. Furthermore, special research projects may be proposed according to this Plan.

The Chair will try to be informed of financing opportunities for research on E&SD, which might exist at local, national or international level, with the aim of stimulating the launch of proposals on these topics.

5. University life and awareness

It is quite hard to teach values if the student do not feel that the behaviour of the University agreed with that which professors intend to teach. Thus, including the principles and teachings concerning E&SD to the real life of Comillas University is essential. The approach has different aspects as, for instance:

  • Waste management (in cooperation with the ongoing program, which has recently finished the diagnosis stage);
  • Implementation of environmental criteria in the design, construction and use of buildings;
  • Monitoring University energy consumption and proposing improvement plans;
  • Implementation of environmental criteria in the list of clauses of cleaning and other supplying University contracts as well as in the job profiles.

The Chair will also try to spread the interest and knowledge in E&SD through the members of the University and outside it. Thus, the Plan should consider activities such as technical conferences on concrete issues, competitions of ideas about E&SD or campaigns in cooperation with other groups or organizations existing inside Comillas and concerned about these issues.

As it has been said before, the real relevant effect that this Plan might cause on Environment and Sustainable Development will not be on either the energy or water saving or the waste management but on the attitude that students of Comillas University will adopt about these problems when they face their duties in their professions.

6. Indicators

Finally, an idea which is potentially interesting and might be applied in all the activities included in the Plan would be to design an assessment system to monitor the level of implementation of the plan at the University. It would set a group of indicators that may include, for instance, the number of subjects which have incorporated E&SD issues, the opinion of graduates declared in opinion polls, the number of students enrolled either in free configuration courses or in graduate courses, the volume of waste collected by means of the corresponding program, the energy and water consumption, and so on.

Research

The Chair tries to stimulate the development of research on different subjects which may improve the knowledge about energy and sustainable development. As far as possible, this activity is supported by undergraduate, master or doctoral theses, focusiong on the total or partial development of the previous research aspects. The Chair also intends to find external financing for the abovementioned projects and theses.

The preferential research lines, are the following:

  • Design of integral and standardizable strategies of energy supply for sparse populations without access to the traditional networks of energy distribution.
  • Comparative analysis of the different schemes of Renewable Energy Development.
  • Need of armonization of these mechanisms in case of electricity international markets and study of the interaction among the different existing or foreseen mechanisms.
  • Markets of emission of greenhouse gases rights and their connection with the mechanisms of renewable development.
  • Added value that the commitment with Corporate Social Responsibility in relation with Energy and Sustainability implies for the companies.
  • Designs of simple technology devices promoting energy savings and sustainability.
  • Planning and investment in energy infrastructures based on sustainability principles.
  • Models of energy and gas integral markets operation.
  • Specification of actions aimed at sustainability in the industrialised world.

"El ingeniero del ICAI y el desarrollo sostenible" Book

The writing of the book "El Ingeniero del ICAI y el Desarrollo Sostenible" has been promoted by the BP Chair on Sustainable Development.

The goal of this activity is to make the society aware of the need to include sustainable criteria in the sphere of action of the ICAI engineers. The publication and the spreading of the book constitute a first milestone of the celebration of the ICAI Centenary and mean a reference frame in order to adapt the education system to the European Higher Education Area.

For more information, please press on the following link: "El Ingeniero del ICAI y el Desarrollo Sostenible".

News about publication (spanish)

BP Chair award to the sustainability of graduation theses

2008 BP Chair award

2010 BP Chair award

The web of the Catalonia Technical University (Universidad Politécnica de Cataluña, UPC) contains much information about engineering education for Sustainable Development. Nervetheless, this web is written in Catalan. You will find some help to translate it at Diccionarios.com and an automatic translator at interNOSTRUM, which allows you to translate separate paragraphs or even documents or web pages...

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