Sustainable Engineering Science for Resolving Wicked Problems

Because wicked problems are beyond the scope of normal, industrial-age engineering science, sustainability problems will require reform of current engineering science and technology practices. We assert that, while pluralism concerning use of the term sustainability is likely to persist, universities should continue to cultivate research and education programs specifically devoted to sustainable engineering science, an enterprise that is formally demarcated from business-as-usual and systems optimization approaches. Advancing sustainable engineering science requires a shift in orientation away from reductionism and intellectual specialization towards integrative approaches to science, education, and technology that: draw upon an ethical awareness that extends beyond the usual bounds of professional ethics or responsible conduct of research to include macroethics, adopt anticipatory and adaptive approaches to unintended consequences resulting from technological innovation that result in more resilient systems, and cultivate interactional expertise to facilitate cross-disciplinary exchange. Unfortunately, existing education and research training programs are ill-equipped to prepare scientists and engineers to operate effectively in a wicked problems milieu. Therefore, it is essential to create new programs of graduate education that will train scientists and engineers to become sustainable engineering science experts equipped to recognize and grapple with the macro-ethical, adaptive, and cross-disciplinary challenges embedded in their technical research and development programs. Content Type Journal Article Category Articles Pages 1-18 DOI 10.1007/s10806-011-9342-2 Authors Thomas Seager, School of Sustainability and The Built Environment, Arizona State University, Phoenix Metropolitan Area, AZ, USA Evan Selinger, Department of Philosophy, Rochester Institute of Technology, Henrietta, NY, USA Arnim Wiek, School of Sustainability, Arizona State University, Phoenix Metropolitan Area, AZ, USA Journal Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics Online ISSN 1573-322X Print ISSN 1187-7863
Keywords Sustainability  Sustainability ethics  Wicked problems  Interactional expertise  Resilience  Macro ethics
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DOI 10.1007/s10806-011-9342-2
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Harry Collins, Robert Evans & Mike Gorman (2007). Trading Zones and Interactional Expertise. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 38 (4):657-666.
W. B. Gallie (1955). Essentially Contested Concepts. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 56 (1):167 - 198.

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