Best of all universities in Europe for engineering education in sustainability

(17.04.2008) NTNU has just been named as offering the best engineering education in Europe for sustainable development. NTNU’s systematic focus on sustainability and the environment has put the university ahead of such well-known institutions as KTH and Chalmers in Sweden, and technical universities in Delft, Munich and Dresden.

Congratulations from Tora Aasland
Tora Aasland, Minister of Research and Higher Education, came Thursday to congratulate the university on the recognition. During her visit, university officials described environment and sustainability programmes and how an environmental perspective is integrated into every aspect of the school’s engineering training.

“This recognition is quite gratifying, and well deserved. NTNU has a long history of including sustainability issues in their teaching. The Industrial Ecology Programme is not just the first of its kind, but has also been recognized as the best for a number of years now. It’s great to know that the students who graduate from NTNU have the strongest qualifications to contribute in solving the world’s environmental problems”, says the cabinet minister, who also took the opportunity to talk with some of the students who have chosen an environmental focus in their engineering studies.

The report from the EESD Observatory (Engineering Education for Sustainable Development) was commissioned and conducted in cooperation with the Alliance for Global Sustainability (AGS). AGS is an international partnership composed of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, the University of Tokyo and Chalmers.

A systematic environmental focus
The report evaluated how systematically universities had introduced sustainability and the environment into their basic engineering education, the opportunities for specialization in sustainable development at the master’s level (the last two years in the civil engineering programme), and whether a commitment to these efforts is anchored in the university’s top leadership. The length of time that the universities had worked with these issues was also a consideration in the evaluation. NTNU scored highly in all areas that were evaluated.

NTNU has many different study programmes that have on their own initiative, or in cooperation with the Industrial Ecology Programme, have worked systematically to educate students in sustainable development. A number of programmes, such as Product Development and Production, Buildings and Environment and Energy and Environment, incorporate environmental issues early on as part of their educational offerings. These courses of study, along with the HES programme in Industrial Economy, Industrial Design, and Technology Management and Physics, offer specialization that is related to sustainable development. NTNU was the first university in the world to offer a programme in industrial ecology, and was first to offer specialization in different programmes of study, and now also offers its own international master’s programme – a programme that also attracts its share of good students from the USA. In 2004, the programme was selected as the best study programme in industrial ecology.

Strong engagement
NTNU’s recognition is the result of strong engagement among a number of the university’s professors, who have worked on a systematic basis over a number of years, and with support from the university leadership, to develop a meaningful and sound educational offering that answers the challenges that face modern society. Technology is central both as the reason for -- and the solution to -- the world’s environmental problems. NTNU has not just concentrated its efforts on raising awareness about these problems, but on techniques for determining how different technological approaches can be used to respond to tomorrow’s environmental challenges without generating new problems.

Børge Brende: “NTNU is the jewel in the Norwegian environmental crown”

Borges Brende, director of the World Economic Forum, and former Norwegian Minister of the Environment, congratulated NTNU on its recognition.

“For me this is no surprise – quite the contrary,” says Brende. “Some of the most encouraging experiences I’ve had as Environment Minister were visits to NTNU to meet people and to lecture to students and researchers in different sustainability areas. I quickly noticed that this was indeed the jewel in Norway’s environmental crown. When NTNU goes all out and works across disciplines to develop new technological solutions to our growing pollutions problems, it has to be good,” says the former Environment cabinet minister.