What has to be learnt for sustainability? A comparison of bachelor engineering education competences at three European universities

  • J. Segalàs
  • D. Ferrer-Balas
  • M. Svanström
  • U. Lundqvist
  • K. F. Mulder
Special Feature Education for sustainable development


In a period of harmonisation of the higher education system in Europe, a question is if also learning about sustainability at the universities is converging and what advantages this may have. This paper is an effort to present and advance the work on describing desired sustainability competences for engineering Bachelor graduates in three technical universities (Chalmers in Sweden, DUT in The Netherlands and UPC-Barcelona in Spain) using the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) descriptors. The paper also sheds light on whether there is conformity or not in desired sustainability competences (or in how sustainable development (SD) competences are handled) at the three universities. For universities outside the EHEA, this paper gives hints on the type of sustainability competences that will be required from their first-cycle graduates should they want to continue with second-cycle studies within the EHEA. The results show that the three universities follow a similar pattern in the classification of the competences (Knowledge and understanding, Skills and abilities, and Attitudes) and that there are minor divergences with respect to the list of competences and the levels of learning that Bachelor students should have when graduating. Definition of competences is an area that needs development, and this paper is part of a learning process for the three universities. This study shows that there is improvement potential for all three universities when it comes to being explicit and exact in the description of the desired SD learning.


Sustainability Engineering Education Competences Europe 


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Copyright information

© Integrated Research System for Sustainability Science and Springer 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Segalàs
    • 1
  • D. Ferrer-Balas
    • 2
  • M. Svanström
    • 3
  • U. Lundqvist
    • 3
  • K. F. Mulder
    • 4
  1. 1.UNESCO Chair of SustainabilityTechnical University of CataloniaBarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.Cities, Centre for sustainabilityTechnical University of CataloniaBarcelonaSpain
  3. 3.Chalmers University of TechnologyGöteborgSweden
  4. 4.Technology Dynamics and Sustainable DevelopmentDelft University of TechnologyDelftThe Netherlands

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