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E. Sahin, H. Ertepinar, G. Teksoz

Middle East Technical University (TURKEY)
Higher education has been advocated to make a major contribution to the process of sustainable development. Incorporating multi-facet nature of sustainable development into higher education emerged with the Stockholm Declaration in 1972 and this declaration has facilitated higher education sector to recognize the importance of infusing education for sustainable development into their curricula (Thomas and Nikita, 2002). Furthermore, an international document on stimulation of sustainable development (COPERNICUS, 2005) has also proposed that higher education can shape the future of society as democratic, stable and peaceful. The Copernicus guidelines might assist higher education institutions by providing some simple steps to meet the challenges of incorporation principles of sustainable development into higher education system (COPERNICUS, 2005). These steps which aimed to get the implementation of strategic goals started begin with doing a gap analysis on the elements of sustainability already in the curriculum, campus, community, and culture. The present study has a focus point on doing a gap analysis in order to empower the higher education graduates for their personal roles in a more sustainable society. However, the universities endorsed Copernicus Charter should also provide the highly skilled individuals necessary for every labor market such as teachers, engineers, architects, scientists, and many more. In this aspect, the present study has taken on a mission to determine the potential deficiencies or powerful aspects of students at Faculty of Engineering. The present study aimed to determine engineering students’ familiarity and current understandings of sustainability as well as their attitudes toward sustainable development. ‘A Survey of University Students’ Views on Sustainability’ originally developed by Kagawa (2007) was administered to a total of 341 engineering students at a technical university in Ankara, Turkey. The results of this study showed that engineering students could not develop an adequate understanding of sustainability. Moreover, there existed some knowledge gaps in their conceptualizations of different aspects of sustainability. Engineering students declared sustainability as mostly related with environmental aspect of this term while neglecting social and economic development. On the other hand, engineering students had favorable attitudes toward sustainable development. These results indicated that engineering education programs should be revised in order to enhance these students’ understanding of sustainability by considering their positive attitudes toward sustainable development.