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The socio-technology of engineering sustainability

Bell, SJ; Chilvers, AJ; Hillier, JO; (2011) The socio-technology of engineering sustainability. Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers - Engineering Sustainability , 164 (3) pp. 177-184. 10.1680/ensu.900014. Green open access

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Abstract

Despite the social goals of sustainable development, including the alleviation of poverty, sustainable engineering approaches have been largely limited to technical measures, promoting engineers as purely technical experts. By under-emphasising social factors, this limits opportunities for engineers to address the full spectrum of challenges posed by the sustainable development model. We explain this in terms of the dominant policy response to environmental problems, known as ecological modernisation, which conscripts engineers into reinforcing false boundaries between technology and society. In contrast to the technical focus of engineering under a framework of ecological modernisation, we suggest that engineering can, in fact, be usefully seen as a hybrid socio-technical profession that breaks these boundaries. This point is underlined by the case-study of indirect potable water reuse, demonstrating that the acknowledgement of hybridity can be used to improve engineers' relationships with the societies they serve, and enhance the contribution of the profession to sustainable development.

Type: Article
Title: The socio-technology of engineering sustainability
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1680/ensu.900014
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1680/ensu.900014
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © ICE Publishing, All Rights Reserved.
Keywords: social impact; sustainability; water supply
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > Bartlett School Env, Energy and Resources
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/78726
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