Towards Globo Sapiens : using reflective journals to prepare engineering students able to engage with sustainable futures

Kelly, Patricia (2006) Towards Globo Sapiens : using reflective journals to prepare engineering students able to engage with sustainable futures. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


How do we help students to integrate their tertiary education with their development as " wise" global citizens and professionals? The study engages with this question through exploring the use of Reflective Journals as a central and integrating strategy for learning and assessment for a socially and culturally diverse group of students in a large, compulsory, first year, one-semester Engineering unit [BNB007: Professional Studies] between 2000 and 2004.

The study supports the hypothesis that Reflective Journals can be an effective strategy for improving the often-criticised poor communication skills of domestic and international students in technical fields. For many students, the process of reflection also became a means of learning about their learning. Attitude surveys administered to students pre and post the teaching intervention in the years 2000-2002 showed positive changes in anticipated directions that encouraged further research. If attitude change was occurring in BNB007, what was the nature of the change? The research showed that at a deeper, longer term and more complex level, this new self-awareness supported many students to develop the kind of futures thinking and social learning " that will be necessary to navigate the transition to sustainable futures" (Raskin et al., 2002). The study contributes to the literature and to methodology through the first complementary use of two new methodologies, Sense-Making and Causal Layered Analysis. Thirty in-depth Sense-Making based interviews, including four with staff, indicate that 'meta-reflection' and transformative learning did take place.

Expressing these qualities in the discourse of internationalisation as " global portability" or even " global competence" is unsatisfactory because these popular terms do not embody the qualities graduates need to create sustainable futures. As currently used, they mainly serve a market-dominated version of globalisation and its allied internationalisation-as-profit discourse. Raskin et al proposed a more appropriate term, " sustainability professionals", emerging from a preferred, valuesbased globalisation inspired by a vision of humane, sustainable futures that see " rights assured, nature treasured, culture rich and the human spirit animate" (p.70). This more challenging concept of a graduate for the 21st century is expressed here through the term Globo sapiens, whose qualities are identified in this study. Such professionals are willing to think critically and to assume responsibility for their impact on communities and the planet. This is the critical-futures oriented, transformative and therefore radical notion connoted by the title Towards Globo sapiens.

This research identified some of the terrain and challenges of a post-development vision in a vocational area of teaching in Higher Education. It explained how particular students resisted or reconstructed their worlds when challenged at fundamental levels, but within a supportive atmosphere. Thus the study contributes to what educators might need to know, be and do, in order to teach effectively for the transformations urged by Sustainability Scientists, among others, and upon which any sustainable alternative futures depend. The study is underpinned by transdisciplinary syntheses that help to illuminate each area in new and fruitful ways.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 16301
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Inayatullah, Sohail & Ryan, Yoni
Keywords: Causal Layered Analysis, Critical Futures Thinking, Engineering Education, Internationalisation of the Curriculum, Learning Society, Sense-Making, Sustainability Education, Reflective Journals, Transdisciplinarity, Transformation, Writing in the Curriculum
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > QUT Business School
Current > Schools > School of Advertising, Marketing & Public Relations
Department: Faculty of Business
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Copyright Owner: Copyright Patricia Kelly
Deposited On: 03 Dec 2008 04:00
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2011 19:45

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