DS 123: Proceedings of the International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education (E&PDE 2023)

Year: 2023
Editor: Buck, Lyndon; Grierson, Hilary; Bohemia, Erik
Author: Elden Wilhelmsen, Marthe; O'born, Reyn; Heimdal, Anette; Ruser, Alexander
Series: E&PDE
Institution: University of Agder, Norway
Section: Ethical, social and/or environmental issues in design and engineering, and their education
DOI number: 10.35199/EPDE.2023.48
ISBN: 978-1-912254-19-4


This paper investigates the prevalence of climate skepticism among 3rd year engineering students and seeks to understand how pedagogical interventions can be used to challenge climate skeptic views. This contribution follows a two-pronged approach to estimate the proportion of climate skeptic attitudes in the classroom, understand their root cause and, most importantly, develop pedagogical tools to challenge such views. The first part involved conducting two statement-based surveys to identify the prevalence of climate skepticism before and after pedagogical interventions. The second part discusses the effect of the use of interactive pedagogical methods to challenge climate skepticism and reduce potential conflict in the classroom. The goal of this research is to determine which pedagogical methods can contribute to changing attitudes towards climate skepticism among engineering students. Two surveys were given to 275 engineering students before and after several hours of lectures on sustainability theory and an interactive class exercise to challenge climate skeptical views. The results of the surveys showed that climate skepticism among our group of engineering students was higher than the Norwegian population average and that the chosen pedagogical intervention showed mixed results in changing these attitudes. The results of the study can be used to understand how engineers perceive the challenge of climate change and to what extent engineering students are skeptical of climate change science. The results will also be useful for educators in understanding how topics of climate change can be effectively taught and how climate skepticism can be dealt with in the classroom through effective pedagogical methods. 

Keywords: climate skepticism, sustainability education, engineering education, interactive pedagogy


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