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ULSF | Association of University Leaders For A Sustainable Future

Volume 6, Number 1: December 2002

Curriculum : Sustainable Development Education at Monterrey Tec

By Francisco J. Lozano-García, Don Huisingh, and Mónica Delgado-Fabián

The Monterrey Institute of Technology (Tec) University System is a private institution of higher education that was founded in September 1943. Since then it has expanded and consolidated its 32-campus network throughout Mexico and many other countries in Latin America.

As Tec has evolved, it has woven a widespread network among alumni, enterprises, and local, state and federal governments. Tec faculty, students and staff work actively throughout this network to assess the needs for current and future professionals in Latin America, and regularly incorporate these evolving needs into Tec's vision and mission statements as well as into its courses, research programs, outreach and campus "greening" activities.

As a result of this on-going process, Tec's recently revised mission statement underscores its growing commitment to sustainable development, as is clear from the following statement:


The Monterrey Institute of Technology University System has the mission of educating individuals who are committed to the social, economic and political improvement of their communities, and who are internationally competitive in their areas of specialty.

Carrying out research and extension relevant to Mexico's Sustainable Development is also part of the Institute's mission.

In order for Tec to fulfill its general mission, it developed the following more detailed statements:

We want our students to have:

  • A clear awareness of national and regional needs;
  • A commitment to the sustainable development of the country and their local communities;
  • A commitment to be agents of change;
  • A respect for human dignity and such inherent rights and responsibilities as the right to truth, freedom and protection under the law;
  • A respect for the environment;
  • An appreciation of culture;
  • An international outlook.

To help plan Mexico's sustainable development in different regions and economic sectors, Tec's research and extension will emphasize:

  • The prospects for specific regions and economic sectors;
  • Future business potential;
  • An analysis of the development and the culture of other countries that can serve as paradigms for Mexican development;
  • Urban development;
  • Public service development;
  • Opportunities for economic interaction with other countries;
  • Educational development.

    The operation of the Monterrey Institute of Technology is based on continuous improvement. Finally, everyone who works at Tec should practice and promote close contact with the community to respond to its needs in accordance with Tec's mission.

These commitments to 'Sustainable Development' (SD) are not only in Tec's mission statement, but are increasingly present throughout its current actions and are being incorporated within its plans for the future in all facets of its activities.

For example, at Tec's Monterrey campus, various efforts focusing on SD were initiated several years ago. The activities range from courses and research on SD to campus greening efforts in water and energy efficiency improvements, material's recycling, criteria for new building construction and retrofitting existing buildings, and SD outreach.

One of the central goals of the present campus administration is to expand these initiatives and to build upon those that have already been implemented. Current planning efforts pertaining to the implementation of the mission statement include fostering SD values, attitudes and skills among all current students, as well as providing them with life-long learning skills that will enable them to help society effectively make the transition to SD.

In order to achieve these goals, increasing faculty capacity to educate in this framework is essential. To support this, courses to "Educate-the-Educators in SD" have been developed and offered to an initial class of 28 professors. Additional courses will be offered on a regular basis throughout the coming years for faculty on the Monterrey campus.

Additionally, research and extension efforts are being increasingly focused upon numerous facets of SD including SD law and policies, SD planning and environmental conservation, and upon the development and implementation of renewable energy technologies and policies.

With Tec's strong administrative commitment supporting SD efforts throughout the 32-campus network, a sound foundation for making good progress on the "road to sustainability" has been established.

Important inputs for Tec's SD work were found within several charters and declarations that have been formulated in recent years. They include the following: The Stockholm Declaration, The Talloires Declaration, The Halifax Declaration, The Copernicus Charter, The Thessalonica Declaration, The Earth Charter, The Lüneburg Declaration, The Kyoto Declaration and The Hermosillo Declaration.

Key Goals of Tec's Sustainable Development Program
In order to develop the vision, structure and conceptual framework for Tec's Sustainable Development Program, the campus president has obtained the critical input of an external consultant with worldwide experience regarding SD issues in academic institutions, industries and governments. He has been collaborative advisor and participant in our sustainable development process. Furthermore, the president was actively involved in SD efforts long before he was appointed in April of 2001 to his present position.

Tec's core SD team, responsible for facilitating and coordinating the SD Program, is comprised of a coordinator, two full time professionals, the external consultant and several undergraduate and graduate students. Those from within the institution have worked or are dedicated to SD in their various activities, either academic, research or consulting. The top campus administration has been and continues to provide support and feedback on the program. In addition, the school deans are responsible for supporting the program and for instilling concern for SD among their departments and research center directors. Currently funds are provided internally, with team members and others donating extra time to all efforts.

Tec's Sustainable Development Program is comprised of the following six key goals:

1. Weave SD concepts, as the "Golden Thread," throughout all courses and curricula on the Monterrey campus;

2. Operate the physical facilities of all campuses based upon SD criteria;

3. Ensure that SD is incorporated as the contextual framework for disciplinary and multi-disciplinary research;

4. Coordinate and integrate Tec's Societal Outreach among stakeholders that play important SD roles in Mexican society;

5. Prepare and disseminate, internally and externally, regular reports of Tec's SD plans, programs and progress;

6. Support, plan and hold high-level conferences on "Conservation and SD" twice a year, in coordination with the Mexican National Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources.

However, declaring these goals is not enough; specific actions are essential to achieve them. Some of our early actions are outlined in the following two sections.

Actions to Implement Tec's Sustainability Campus Program (SCP)
In our process of focusing on "weaving the Golden Thread" of SD through courses and curricula at Monterrey Tec, the following actions are being pursued or will be implemented in the near future.

a) Financial and human resources are being allocated for planning and implementing Tec's SCP Plan.

b ) Involvement of faculty, staff and students from all academic and non-academic units in the Monterrey campus and throughout the entire Tec network has been started.

c) Education of faculty, staff and students in SD concepts, values and tools to implement Tec's SCP is being implemented.

d) Documentation of current practices within Tec concerning the six key goals, stated above, is being done to serve as the baseline from which to make plans for and to monitor improvements.

e) Documentation of global best SD practices within university and college campuses is being assembled and evaluated to develop effective benchmarks for planning and monitoring the university SD improvements.

f) Performance Indicators are being developed and utilized on an on-going basis to monitor progress or lack of it. The results are being used to help decision-makers, faculty, and staff to make appropriate changes in policies, procedures, education, research, and outreach.

g) Tec has agreed to plan and host the Third International "Environmental Management and Sustainable Development Conference for Higher Education" in September of 2004 in Monterrey, Mexico.1

Courses and Curricula
Tec's central responsibility is to educate and prepare the future professionals that society will need to make the SD transition. In order to accomplish this, a detailed plan is being developed and implemented. It includes the following activities:

  • Assess the quality and relevance of the current aspects of SD that have been incorporated into various courses taught in the Monterrey Campus schools and divisions.
  • Develop materials and a schedule for "Educating Tec Educators" on the concepts, tools and curriculum development models for incorporating SD into their courses and curricula.
  • Educate a group of "SD Champion Educators" that work on the Monterrey campus to support the education of other educators in SD.
  • Ensure that SD Educators are supported in the process of incorporating SD concepts and approaches within their courses, and that they are provided with incentives to help other faculty within their department, school and across the University to also incorporate such concepts.
  • After the initial core of "SD Champion Educators" on the Monterrey campus has been educated and worked with others on the Monterrey campus, ensure that faculty at other campuses of Tec's 32 campus network will also be provided the opportunity to engage in such training, either directly in workshop contexts or within courses that will be developed and delivered via UV (Virtual University system). Members of the "SD Champion Educators" will also serve as tutors for faculty on other campuses.
  • Develop and utilize appropriate indicators to evaluate course performance effectiveness and efficiency in educating students in SD concepts.
  • Prepare reports on a regular basis to provide information for Tec's administration, faculty, alumni and each new generation of students regarding SD in courses and curricula. This is extremely important because an average student spends about four and a half to five years on the campus. It is Tec's responsibility that they be provided challenging opportunities to learn and to apply SD concepts within their courses and projects.
  • Perform reviews of all courses and curricula to ensure that SD concepts are regularly updated. Provide Tec's administration with regular reports on the results of this process. Submit recommendations of how to increase the pace of involvement of all faculty members in the SD process.

According to a recently concluded assessment, there are now 39 courses that include concepts of SD on the Monterrey campus (Figure 1). The following are brief descriptions of some selected courses from above.

a) Natural Resources Economics:
This course integrates economic theory tools with the problems and concepts of natural resources and the environment in order to provide deeper understanding and proper decision-making. The relation between efficient use of natural resources and the dynamics of origin, supply, renewal, consumption and extinction of primary natural resources is central to the course.

b) Leadership for Sustainable Development:
This is a Core course (compulsory for all graduate students) oriented towards increasing awareness and commitment to act, as agents of change when facing the ecological, economic and social challenges organizations must address in the XXI century.

c) Ecoefficient Process Analysis:
Ecoefficiency and industrial ecology concepts are central to this course. Criteria to analyze ecoefficient processes are utilized. World Business Council for Sustainable Development criteria are used. Long-term vision is fostered regarding the links between sustainable development and all chemical process industries using case studies for different process industry areas.

d) Human Dynamics in Organizations:
This course examines internal and external resources for social investment projects that protect the environment, synergies with the community for social investment projects, and management of social investment projects.

e) Corporate Environmental Strategy:
This course asks: what is a corporate environmental strategy? It looks at environmental differentiation, markets for environmental technologies and services, green partnerships with regulatory agencies, environmental management systems, the relationship between environmental strategies and competitiveness, environmental accounting, life cycle analysis, green marketing and eco-labeling, measuring environmental performance and financial performance, and the triple bottom line.

Figure 1. Courses at Monterrey Tec that incorporate concepts of SD

EGADE -Graduate School of Business:

  • Human Dynamics in Organizations
  • Strategy, Structure and Processes in Organizations
  • Cap Stone Seminar: Corporate and Global Strategies
  • Leadership for Sustainable Development
  • Creating Competitive Advantage in Organizations
  • Ideology and Mentality in Latin American Organizations
  • Negotiation Skills in the International Context
  • Corporate Communication
  • Public Policy and Institutions Development
  • Technology Development and Competitiveness
  • Corporate Environmental Strategy
  • Global Leadership Program
  • Financial Engineering

DAF - Administration, Management and Finance Division:

  • International Economic Policy
  • International Trade Economy and Policy
  • Economic Development
  • Social Project Evaluation
  • Natural Resources Economics
  • Regional Economics

DIA - Engineering and Architecture Division:

  • Process Re-engineering
  • Environmental Management
  • Ecoefficient Process Analysis
  • Ecology and Sustainable Development

DECIC - Electronics, Computation, Information and Communications Division:

  • Leadership for SD
  • Alternative Energy Sources

Training Educators in SD Concepts, Values and Tools
Twenty-eight professors, drawn from the departments of Architecture, International Affairs, and Civil and Chemical Engineering, participated in the first offering of a three-day SD 'Educate Tec Educators' course. The course was designed to provide the educators with insights into the concepts, values and tools of SD and to assist them in the process of integrating such SD inputs into their courses.

This course was facilitated and coordinated by five SD educational experts. Their inputs provided the foundations of SD for the first group of educators. The course objectives were to address the economic, ecological and societal dimensions of SD. The course outline is as follows:

********

SESSION 1:
Objectives:
1. To learn about the evolving meanings of the concept of Sustainable Development during the last 30 years from Stockholm to Rio to Johannesburg;
2. To analyze and discuss the four chapters of Agenda 21 which are especially relevant for educators;
3. To increase participants' understanding and appreciation of the interconnectedness of Earth's life support systems within the context of its geological and ecological evolution;
4. To review the conceptual framework of SD according to institutional, ideological and academic experts;
5. To analyze the trans-generational, trans-regional and trans-species responsibilities of SD.

SESSION 2:
Objectives:
1. To obtain insights into the economic dimensions of Sustainable Development;
2. To obtain insights into the social dimensions of SD.

SESSION 3:
Objectives:
1. To more fully understand the ecological dimensions of Sustainable Development and the extent and nature of natural resource appropriations by human beings. New directions in more sustainable development of human and natural resources within the ecological carrying capacity of the bio-sphere are addressed.
2. In order to provide participants the opportunity to begin incorporating SD concepts into their courses, time is allocated for small group workshops. Each group then presents its team members' ideas and approaches for incorporating SD into the courses they will teach during the next academic semester.

********

This type of course will be offered at least once per semester. The current plans are to train educators who will be able to provide an 'Educate Tec Educator' capacity for teaching many groups of Tec faculty in the next three years.

Educators who have taken the 'Educate Tec Educators' course will receive on-going educational materials and staff support to help them continue to make progress in incorporating the concepts, values and approaches of SD into existing and new courses and curricula.

Recently Concluded Assessments of Campus Facility Operations
Tec's energy and water use efficiency improvement efforts have yielded positive results as illustrated by the following summary points:

  • Tec's electricity usage in 2001 was 6.24 GJ/student, which is an 11% per student decrease in overall energy consumption per student from the level four years earlier.
  • Tec's natural gas usage for 2001 was 1.58 GJ/student, which is a 14 % per student decrease from the usage level of five years earlier.
  • Tec's water use efficiency improvement efforts resulted in a per student water consumption rate during 2001 of 31 m3/student. This is a 16% per student reduction in water usage compared with the level four years earlier.

Tec has incorporated more energy efficient design parameters within its new Student Residence Hall. These criteria and methods will result in a 5-fold reduction in energy consumption for that building compared with the Mexican official standard.2

A comparison of Tec's campus energy consumption in 1999 with the energy consumption of several European universities that are Copernicus Charter signatories is presented in Figure 2.

Figure 2. A comparison of the electrical and natural gas consumption, on a per student basis, between Monterrey Tec and several European universities.3

 

What lies in the future for Tec's SD program?
Much more work must be done within all goal areas of Tec's SD program. A central vision of Tec's SD program developers is:

"Change towards Sustainable Development can only be achieved through faculty and student capacity building that is based on education and training on the concepts, tools and values of SD. This process can be most effectively achieved by ensuring that all courses and curricula have elements of SD within them. It is also essential that all students receive opportunities to develop skills and to gain experience in working in interdisciplinary teams because the real problems of making the transition to SD are multi-factorial and must be addressed from an inter or multi-disciplinary perspective."

With regard to monitoring and measuring progress in Tec's efforts toward SD, we must develop and utilize appropriate Performance Indicators (PI) that take the full life cycle impacts of our activities into account. Such PI's are needed for monitoring Tec's efforts in:

  • Incorporation of SD into courses and curricula;
  • Incorporation of SD into research programs;
  • Developing and implementing SD criteria for new building design;
  • Developing and implementing SD criteria for retrofitting the present stock of buildings;
  • Developing and utilizing SD development criteria in all campus procurement.

Tec's administrators, faculty and staff are currently developing and testing such PI's for the six goal areas of the program. Other future tasks include continuing to lay solid foundations for each key goal and working to increase the commitment to SD among faculty and staff members, as well as students.

As with any effort of this scope, we face certain challenges. Primarily we encounter the normal resistance to change in the campus community as well as people's lack of perception that a better future lies ahead if we adopt and nurture sustainability. Another ongoing challenge is obtaining and providing the necessary funding for our short term efforts, before sustainability forms a natural way of life within the institution.

With the strong support of Tec's president, the hard work of a core SD team, and the dedication of many other staff, faculty and students, Tec is committed to moving down the path toward a sustainable future. We are striving to contribute both to enlightened future leadership in Mexico and to the global dialogue about the role of higher education in ensuring a socially just, economically viable and ecologically sound world for generations to come. While our initiatives in curricular reform have yielded significant results, a sustained effort towards energy efficiency and recycling has been part of our day to day activities, and Tec is progressing in the areas of research and outreach as well.


Endnotes
1 For details, please contact Prof. Francisco J. Lozano-García.
2 NOM-008-ENER-2001.
3 Data for European universities is taken from the COPERNICUS-CAMPUS Low-Energy Project (www.copernicus-campus.org).


We welcome input from any colleagues who wish to share their experiences with PI's on their campuses. Please contact us with your suggestions and questions.

Francisco J. Lozano-García, Center for Environmental Quality, ITESM Campus Monterrey, Av. E. Garza Sada # 2501, Monterrey, Nuevo León, 64849 Mexico. fjlozano@itesm.mx. Don Huisingh, The Center for Clean Products and Clean Technologies at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. 311 Conference Center Building. Knoxville, TN 37996-4134, U.S.A. dhuisingh@utk.edu. Mónica Delgado-Fabián, Residence Halls, ITESM Campus Monterrey, Av. E. Garza Sada # 2501, Monterrey, Nuevo León, 64849 Mexico. monica.delgado@itesm.mx.

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