SUSTAINABILITY AS A CORE COMPETENCY IN HIGHER EDUCATION OF ENGINEERING

Educational outcomes in the European Higher Education Area will be described as competencies. Between these, the core competencies must be included in all curricula, as they are essential for students in their future professions. Technical University of Madrid has recommended to its schools to include eight core competencies, at least, in the future graduate degrees. One of those recommended core competencies is related to environmental skills and awareness or sustainability principles. In this sense, higher education is a key support condition in order to afford the challenge of sustainable development, which is a strategic theme for the European Union. Engineers are key elements in this challenge, since technology provide the technical means to fulfill eco-efficiency, through optimization, improvement and renewal of the existing systems in the transition path to sustainability goals. The university has recommended to dedicate at least 24 ECTS for core competencies in the curriculum, of the total 240 ECTS of the future graduate degrees. These competencies should be developed in specific subjects or they may be worked in any of the curriculum. We are involved in the teaching of Agronomy. This subject is included in the future agricultural engineering degree. Its specific competencies are related to plant production, and it is the basis for the knowledge and skills of the graduates in this area. The aim of this work is to introduce sustainability principles and environmental awareness as a core competence in this subject, doing the so-called greening of the subject. This greening is going to be achieved including several aspects of sustainable agriculture: management of water resources, changes in the global biogeochemical cycles, climate change, energy flows in the agricultural systems, eco-efficiency, production optimization with environmental, economic and social criteria, life-cycle of agricultural products or global food supply chains.