Developing and applying green building technology in an indigenous community: An engaged approach to sustainability education

David R. Riley, Corinne E. Thatcher, Elizabeth A. Workman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Purpose - This paper aims to disseminate an innovative approach to sustainability education in construction-related fields in which teaching, research, and service are integrated to provide a unique learning experience for undergraduate students, faculty members, and community partners. Design/methodology/approach - The paper identifies the need for sustainability education in fields related to construction and describes an interdisciplinary course at Penn State that addresses this need. The goals, research, and applications of the course are detailed, as is the sustainable construction technology employed in course projects. Finally, the results from two course assessments are summarized to support the authors' hypothesis that knowledge best occurs and develops in an arena of negotiation, collaboration, and creation. Findings - Students who participate in the course experience well-rounded growth that includes, but is not limited to, increased research, design, communication, and collaboration skills, a finding that underscores the effectiveness of the course's holistic approach to engineering and architecture education. Practical implications - The paper demonstrates that engaged approaches to architecture and engineering education contribute to a heightened awareness among students of the importance of sustainability. It encourages other educators to adopt similar approaches to sustainability education in their courses. Originality/value - The paper addresses the need for sustainability education in construction-related disciplines by detailing an innovative course developed at Penn State to raise environmental and social awareness among architecture and engineering students. The engaged approach utilized in the course is replicable in any discipline and promises to have a significant impact on the commitment of today's students to creating a tomorrow in which sustainability is the norm rather than an anomaly.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)142-157
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Education


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