Date of this Version


Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Details

Brewer, G., Askew, L., & Williams, T. (April, 2011). Evaluating change in student's environmental values: The impact of environmental learning in undergraduate design courses. Paper presented at 36th Annual Conference for Australian University Building Educators, Bond University, Gold Coast.


Design increasingly matters in the context of climate change. Environmental problem solving across design disciplines is vital to ensure that certain problems of climate change are addressed and that more sustainable ways of living and working are created. However, sustainability is notoriously hard to define and has faced considerable challenges in its inclusion as part of design education, with further problems presented in evaluating any impacts on the environmental attitudes and behaviours of design students. In this practice paper, the "Design and the Environment" course delivered at the University of Newcastle is examined. The course is trans-disciplinary, delivering environmental content to mixed cohorts of design students. Using problem-based learning techniques, the course requires students to evaluate the consequences of their designs by performing a life cycle analysis/audit of their solution. In this research, experiences of the course are examined using a well-evidenced evaluation mechanism – the New Ecological Paradigm (NEP) – in order to observe the effects of this particular subject on the environmental values of a single cohort of students. This practice paper presents the results of this limited intervention, yet provides further issues for discussion and another starting point for future research on the inclusion of environmental awareness and sustainability in design education.



This document has been peer reviewed.