Sustainable Design: A New Paradigm for Engineering Education

Andrew Lau
Penn State Center for Sustainability
104 Eng Unit A, University Park, PA 16802, USA

This essay rejects the notion that we understand sustainability well enough to talk about ‘sustaining sustainable design’. The wide-ranging literature is surveyed to explore the contested meaning of sustainability. What emerges is an evolution of the meaning, with enlarging scope and philosophical basis, from an environmental emphasis to a focus on human flourishing and caring. A definition consistent with the most evolved view is that: ‘Sustainability is the possibility that humans and other life will flourish on the Earth forever.’ Ideas are presented about how flourishing can guide design.


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