Engineering for A Sustainable Future

A paper produced by the Engineering for a Sustainable Future network of the IEE, London.

Sarah F. Clarke, Neil Morris, Matthew Rhodes




This paper is the outcome of an open global consultation process conducted with the membership of the Institution of Electrical Engineers (IEE)[1]. It illustrates the range of approaches to sustainable development advocated by engineers within the Institution. Five themes emerge as key to building a sustainable future. These five themes are all action-orientated: take a more holistic and systems based approach; provide better technical education for all; address the alienation of engineering and science from the political process; restructure the relationships between professions, society, and the environment; and make the use of energy more equitable. These themes provide an agenda for action and for focusing the diverse contributions of engineers and scientists globally.



1.0       Introduction


Engineers are responsible for the unsustainable environmental degradation that we are currently experiencing5j. The engineer’s role is to act as the interface between society and scientific and technological developments, and to ensure that new technology is applied in a sustainable and positive way. Such enlightened application has not occurred[2]. It is therefore the engineer’s responsibility to change their approach to correct these mistakes, and to put the world back on a viable path – namely that of sustainable development (see box).

Sustainable Development

The precise meaning of sustainable development has been widely debated.  For example, two years after the Brundtland Commission’s Report Our Common Future (1987) popularised the term over 140 definitions of sustainable development had been catalogued[3]. In this paper we adopt the broad view that sustainable development requires fundamental structural and behavioural transformations in all aspects of life to ensure equitable solutions to the world’s most pressing problems.

Our working definition is that sustainable development is a path, not a goal, and demands that we seek ways of living, working and being that enable all people of the world to lead healthy, fulfilling, and economically secure lives without destroying the environment and without endangering the future welfare of people and the planet[4].


In particular, there is a need to recognise that genuine sustainable development (as opposed to simple environmental improvement) implicitly requires changes in the values that govern collective decision-making. This will potentially have fundamental implications for the relationship between technology and society, and the people and professions involved in this relationship. Simplistic approaches to technology (for example as ‘saviour’ or ‘villain’ of the piece) are unhelpful.

As a step to addressing these issues, in Spring 2000 the IEE invited members globally to submit their views about how engineers and engineering could contribute to sustainable development in the 21st century. This involved direct submission of papers and a separate open-format ‘soap-box’ convention in London in March (see Figure 1).


The response was encouraging: full papers were received from members in countries as diverse as Ethiopia, Australia, Portugal, South Africa, Nigeria, Hong Kong and Australia, as well as the USA and UK. The convention provided an exciting and challenging forum in which a wide range of opinions were expressed, and new perspectives on engineering emerged.


This paper presents a summary of these views[5], organised by the five themes that emerged consistently throughout the consultation.


Our conclusion is that fundamental change is required in the relationship between society and technology. This goes far beyond answering the question: should there be more or less technology, and encompasses fundamental change in values – both within society and within engineering. Since engineers are the most direct embodiment of the relationship between technology and society, fundamental value-driven change is required of engineers and to engineering, and engineers have a specific responsibility to help society change its broader values in a similar way. We set out an initial agenda for defining and delivering these changes.


2.0       The five themes


The five major themes that emerged from the consultation process are illustrated in Figure 2.


The engineering method encourages systematic analysis and a holistic approach to problem solving. It is thus unsurprising that most engineers, confronted with the global environment as ‘the problem’, will prescribe a holistic approach – looking at the world as a whole and advocating systems thinking. This is a core theme of this paper.


The potential fallacy in this approach is, of course, the tendency to see the world as a deterministic system, where there is one perfect solution and in which people and individual interests are seen as obstacles rather than part of a solution. In simplistic applications of systems thinking, values and ethics can be underplayed or dangerously left implicit.


This leads directly to a second theme: the need for better technical education for all. Some believe - if only others could be helped to understand the potential of technologies as much as engineers, they would then be able to see the world in a holistic and systematic way. However, there is also the broader point that sustainable development is ultimately driven by a combination of both people and technology. A more balanced education of technologists and people in general is necessary to enable informed social judgements to be made. A key part of this education is to ensure that people appreciate the influence of divergent value sets on these judgements and to provide a basis for the development of a management process that reflects this divergence.


Both of the first two themes are related to a more fundamental source, the progressive alienation of engineering and science from political processes. This is caused both by the rapid development of science in the past century and by hidden gaps and conflicting assumptions in the philosophical foundations (including values) of science, engineering and society. We discuss this theme: the growing disconnect between political processes and engineering and science third below.


Such a profound disconnection cannot be addressed by superficial actions, or simply by adding capabilities to existing competencies. It will require fundamental changes and restructuring of relationships between individuals and professions, and between professions, society, and the environment. This is a tall order. Our contributors developed views on this, which are expanded fourth below.


Finally (and essentially, given the engineering roots of this paper) we focus on practical imperatives and actions. Theoretical speculation and philosophical debate are vital, but as our Ethiopian contributor reminded us, there are pressing issues which must be addressed before any fundamental changes in mindset will appear on the agenda of large parts of the globe5i. There are many practical things that can be done quickly.



2.1       Take a more holistic and systems based approach


Sustainable development demands that a holistic approach be taken to analysis of the problems that the world faces and to the development of solutions to these pressing concerns5g.  This perspective goes beyond the systems thinking methods traditionally used in the development of technology and adopted by most engineering disciplines. It includes the social, ethical, economic, political and cultural systems that technology is embedded in and shaped by and suggests a need to redefine the boundaries of the problems that engineers address. It is not sufficient simply to consider a technical system without wider and deeper consideration of the values and views of a diversity of stakeholders (environmentalists, politicians, the public, interest groups, the Media) and the interaction of technology with these different elements in society.


Sustainability also demands that the time horizon of technological decision-making is stretched to account for the needs of generations yet to be born.  There are many examples of ‘optimal’ technical solutions, derived from a narrow, short-term view, which have given rise to unanticipated interactions and outcomes, both socially and environmentally[6].  One solution is to envision the desired future state of world and derive solutions today that enable that future to be achieved[7]. Another approach is to build some simple principles into engineering practice, such as compulsory recycling in some applications5j.


From this systems based, holistic perspective, finding solutions to the world’s problems is a complex and exacting task: it may be that there is no single, ‘best’ solution, except in isolated or special cases.  Ultimately, a trade off may have to be made between one set of consequences and another. In this context many argue the Precautionary Principle[8] should govern all decisions.


In advocating a systems approach there is however a danger that engineering and scientific methods will be inappropriately applied to an essentially socio-political, cultural and behavioural problem without a full appreciation of the interdependent, chaotic, unpredictable and dynamic nature of the system as a whole[9]. The belief that we will always be able to engineer ourselves out of a problem is endemic, and perhaps reflects a natural human optimism and confidence. Such confidence has brought us far – whether it is now an obstacle or ally of sustainable progress is open to question.


In summary, while the engineer’s systems thinking approach has much to offer it may not be the complete solution.  However, engineers are well placed to put forward this as the starting point for their contribution to sustainable development.



2.2       Provide better technical education for all


Many contributors suggested that the democratic model of decision-making about the role of technology in society and its place in a sustainable future is flawed if people are not taking informed decisions based on ‘sound’ science5. Consequently, they argue, it is imperative to educate people about science and technology5d. Education is not only via classrooms and media, but also by ensuring the right information is presented in the right way in critical places, such as corporate annual reports5c,5b. Some observers argue, for example, that the controversy surrounding genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is the product of an ill-informed, scientifically-illiterate debate and it is possible for a vociferous minority to steer events based on poor science[10]. Yet, this apparently hysterical reaction may also be a symptom of a greater malaise, namely the inability of the scientific and engineering constituencies to understand and value alternative world-views and to communicate with different communities.  This suggests a need to educate both constituencies: the engineer and the non-engineer alike5b.  Public disquiet with technologies such as nuclear power and GMOs is related to perception of risk and the degree to which people trust the scientific community[11]. It is for that community to earn trust and to build public understanding of risk. Innovative methods over and above conventional classroom teaching will be required to reach this audience. The Public Awareness of Science (PAWS) initiative in the UK is one such model[12].


While there is a need to educate the public about technology, it must also be acknowledged that engineers require a full understanding of environmental and sustainable development concerns. A recent study of UK universities undertaken by the Engineering for a Sustainable Future network of the IEE suggests that few offer this type of training to their students[13].  Where there was a course it was often an add-on to the curriculum rather than a fully integrated subject. It is an imbalance that needs to be rectified if we are to supply engineers with the skills to engage meaningfully in the sustainable development debate.  It also suggests that lecturers may need advice and support in this regard.  The education of practising engineers and their knowledge and appreciation of environmental and sustainability matters is something that remains unexplored.  While a technical and scientific understanding of sustainability issues is important, engineers need also to appreciate the sociological dimension of technology development, that is the political, social, cultural and psychological influences that shape technology.  Moreover, they require skills to deal with the ethical and moral dilemmas they face in their decision-making and the personal conflicts that they can encounter in design choices5j,[14].


The lack of attention to sustainable development issues in education may have a deeper root. According to some contributors it reflects the fact that political and business needs shape the education system5h.  In order to change this system the cause rather than the symptom must be addressed.  This implies that energies would be better directed to refocus the agenda and reference framework of business and politicians (publication of sustainability performance data in annual reports may be one route to this5c,5b). The influence of the engineering profession on this framework can be strong, but very indirect[15]. It needs to be managed more consciously and responsibly in line with an explicit set of values5c,5j. This leads us to our third theme.



2.3       Address the alienation of engineering and science from the political process


In some ways, it is easy to advocate either better education of engineers or better education of those in power, but to lose sight of the practical and philosophical problems that hide behind these words. These problems include:


·        the pace of technological change.  This can make even well educated engineers out of date very quickly5h.  The aim of keeping non-technical decision-makers informed becomes a formidable task. 

·        the ability of a small group of technical people in positions of corporate and knowledge-based power to set the education agenda.  The danger of this is that the rest are left with a fait accompli and a challenge to catch up5d,5h.

·        the tendency of broadly educated engineers to be absorbed out of positions of meaningful (technical) professional activity.  In non-engineering or managerial roles they effectively cease to be regarded or to operate as engineers and the impact of their education may be diluted.

·        a disconnect between strategic management and technology management in the enterprise.  This makes it difficult for engineers to contribute actively in the strategic decision-making processes and reinforces the view that their role is simply to provide technological solutions to the predefined problems presented to them by management.

·        similarly, in society as a whole, there is a mismatch between a political process which sees technical activities as fundamentally distinct and an ‘outcome’ of political debate, and a world in which the development of technology and the development of society and political processes are inextricably linked[16].


To a large extent, this last point underlies the others. Society is extremely reluctant to accept that technology, just as the environment, has an interest and contribution that should be represented in the political process. This contrasts with the view that technology is merely the tool (or object) of that process. It requires that existing power brokers share power more widely. The risks of disenfranchising or systematically suppressing these interests are great, as has been demonstrated by the exclusion of emerging voices throughout history, for example the suffragette movement. The successful engagement of all parties, and the recognition of their power and influence, is key to converge on viable solutions for a sustainable future.


One explanation for the alienation of engineers from the political process is the tendency to group all engineers under the heading ‘techies’ or ‘nerds’.  It should be recognised, however, that the roles of engineers are many and diverse.  Some work in purely technical roles either on their own or in teams, others apply their expertise to non-engineering professions such as marketing, some are leaders or managers of large groups of engineers, and others act as catalysts or facilitators to bring together a diversity of people to work on a particular issue, as was demonstrated in a study of sustainable technology management[17]. 


However, the above analysis suggests a new role for certain types of engineer, that of intermediary between society and technology.  It may be that a new ‘profession’ is required that is a recognised ‘power’ or body of influence, similar to Judges who mediate between society and the ‘law’, Ministers of Religion who mediate between society and ‘God’, or Politicians, who balance priorities between different members of society. This point came out clearly in the IEE March convention5l. 


While it is important to have a diversity of roles in engineering, there is also a need for diversity in the educational and cultural backgrounds of engineers to ensure the broadest knowledge bases in decision-making.  This will help to remove the biases that have emerged from a western, male-dominated pool of engineering personnel.  This links to our fourth theme below.



2.4       Restructure the relationships between the professions, society and the environment


Sustainable development potentially requires fundamental changes in all aspects of human life.  Given technology’s central role in today’s society, and the discussion in section 2.3 above, this implies that the relationships that shape technology and the interfaces between technology and the environment, economy and society need to be re-examined, re-negotiated and, potentially redefined[18]. The question is how?


It seems clear that it is no longer appropriate to adopt a closed-door approach to the development of technology where technological solutions spring into being out of a mysterious black box.  Rather, sustainable development almost certainly implies a need to move away from an isolated design process to one that is open and integrates a wide set of people into the decision-making process.  It also suggests that the focus of design must be on the development of quality of life rather than products5e. 


Engineers have always done this to a degree.  Their technical solutions have been derived from societal concerns and the view of quality of life at a particular point in time.  For example, engineers developed clean air technology and safer manufacturing methods during and after the industrial revolution in response to public disquiet and political necessity. Historically, however, the overall process of technological development has been managed by people other than engineers, with engineers brought in to provide solutions once the framework has been established.  Sustainable development demands that engineers are part of the process of defining what is and is not sustainable, as well as helping to shape the solution.  The key issue, therefore, is not the technical outcome but who manages the process in the modern world and how quality of life is defined and agreed upon, taking into account the potential of different technologies.


Figure 3 illustrates our proposal that we are moving from a historical model in which the government of each country regulates technological development, conducted mostly by privately-owned organisations, to a new model where individual engineers are guided by their direct interaction with society.  National regulatory methods simply do not apply to today’s international technologies. The designers of those technologies must learn to apply value judgements to their work.  A good example is the World-Wide Web Consortium, founded by Tim Burners-Lee the inventor of the HTML standard.  WWWC.COM exists to regulate the introduction of new technical standards for use on the internet.  The consortium applies ethical criteria to regulate its membership and to control and moderate their activities.


Technological outcomes are always implicitly the product of a socially negotiated process in which technical and non-technical voices share in the decision making process. The challenge now is to ensure technical and non-technical solutions combine to move society towards a more socially, economically and environmentally sustainable future. In practice this comes down to making decisions as to where to invest capital. The question is to what extent can and should these decisions be based on a transparent and genuinely informed debate with all groups in society. An objection to the existing process is that the decisions are either implicit or governed by a few.


A good starting point for finding a better way of managing this decision-making process is to presume in favour of openness and involvement. The world should at least explore what this requires before turning to alternative political models. It is clear, for example, that to move towards the most conscious and open way of managing this process requires that engineers develop a new, inclusive and diverse network of relationships with people who they have traditionally thought of as ‘outsiders’ in the technology development process. This might include, for example, environmental activists, ethicists, theologians, ecologists, social activists, government agencies and concerned members of the public. It also suggests a need to develop new skills for communicating with people who speak different (non-technical) ‘languages’ and to develop a new body of knowledge about, for example, sustainability concerns. 


An open approach also implies a willingness to share technology across traditional organisational and industrial boundaries and to view technology as non-proprietary.  Competitive advantage is then derived from a firm’s capability to apply a particular technology more effectively than other companies rather than by the technology itself[19].  This in turn demands that engineers are fully included in the strategic decision-making processes of the firm.  Both these requirements present a direct challenge to vested interests inside and outside the firm created by the current, less-open decision-making processes. Many of these interests would rather that engineers remain inside their ‘boxes’.


This new, open and collaborative role presents a considerable challenge to the engineering profession.   The majority of engineers have not been trained for this role.  Some may be unwilling to take it on.  However, it is beholden upon engineers to learn the knowledge of sustainability and skills set it necessitates so that they can actively contribute to the implementation of sustainable development. Similar points also apply in very immediate and practical issues surrounding nation building (for example, in Nigeria5a).


Positive, practical steps to build new relationships can, however, be taken quickly. In March 2000, as part of the process supporting this paper, the IEE invited engineers to a convention, run as a ‘soap box’ event.  Participants were asked to present their own vision of what is important for the engineer of the future. We found this self-organizing process an exciting and challenging new way of working together not simply because novel ideas emerged but also because a disparate group of people found they had interests, values and beliefs in common and were motivated to build on their new found relationships and to act on their ideas.


One point of learning was that engineers are often called upon to express an opinion, and in that sense have more in common with medical and legal professionals than they have with scientists. In practice, the fields of science and engineering are, of course, quite different. Individual specialist engineers are well accustomed to forming temporary, multi-disciplinary teams to execute specific projects. Their goal is optimal practical action, rather than falsification of hypotheses.


In addition to working as individuals and in project teams, engineers work collaboratively as a profession towards a common direction. This leads to the formation of a wide range of small, medium, and large professional networks – including the one sponsoring this paper. The diversity of opinion that is encountered when engineers debate a subject is their great strength.



2.5              Make the use of energy more equitable


In debating sustainable development there is a danger that we forget practical realities in the midst of philosophical discussion.  Several contributors touched on this point.


One third of humanity remains locked into dependence on traditional (animate) energy use.  This has prevailed for millennia. Fundamentally, it means they have no way of generating any kind of surplus over subsistence needs and hence improving their economic situation (or, indeed, of engaging effectively in global debates). From this perspective global society has only just passed the point where the majority of humanity has emerged from the dark ages. 


Engineering for a sustainable future must recognise not only the need to mediate and manage the progress of developed countries but also the need to accelerate and support the development of the rural poor globally. This demands that energy inequities are addressed in a way consistent with sustainable development. This might mean, for example, essential energy innovations at a basic level, driven by local needs5i. Sustainable development must also, in this sense, be the outcome of a genuinely global debate, and not a western ideal. 


Many people are working in this area. However, there are also massive human resources in the developed world, the retired, graduate students, un- and underemployed, that could be more effectively utilised to provide design support at a distance5k.  Such schemes must, of course, be chosen with caution. While redundant skills in the developed world may be extremely valuable in Ethiopia or Bangladesh, care must be taken not to propel developing nations along an unsustainable path.  In addition, technical assistance such as this must fulfil the needs of the recipient rather than force fit unsuitable technology to a locale.  In this manner, locally appropriate, technical solutions drive development rather than globally convenient technologies[20]. In many ways sustainable development provides a coherent global framework for the intermediate technology philosophy which has been promoted for nearly half a century.


At a practical level, doing ‘good works’ on the ground has historically been the emphasis of aid agencies.  Increasingly modern technology can offer alternative modes of working (assuming a reliable source of electricity).  For the price of a few intercontinental flights, internet links could be established between key sites in Europe, the Americas, Asia and Africa to design and develop practical technologies to kick-start the development process. One approach is to use ‘generalists’ to work with communities to establish local needs and the infrastructure to enable specialist support from a distance. In this context the generalist might be an experienced engineer who takes the role that a General Practitioner takes in medical matters, establishing exactly what is ‘the problem’, and then helping the person with the problem to find the most appropriate specialist help. The essence is establishing the right mix of global and smaller-scale infrastructure to create empowered and accountable groups locally5f.


A word of caution is in order.  Often, we regard the definition of development as where the West is today and focus our attention on how to transform developing countries into that ‘ideal’. This is globalisation at its worst not only because it ignores the cultural issues, but also because it is not yet entirely clear which of the ‘developed’ or ‘developing’ models is actually the most developed[21]. The key issue, therefore, is to find a viable alternative model of development.  This remains a challenge to all sectors of society and one to which the engineer must respond.



3.0       Conclusion – an agenda for change


This paper reflects the diversity of opinions expressed in response to the IEE initiatives. It has been a tremendously encouraging and positive process and at last gives us a platform to go beyond the simple mantra ‘engineers need to be educated more broadly and recognise their social responsibility’. The important issue is: what do we do when these new engineers exist?


This paper has outlined a fundamental need to redefine the boundaries of engineering, and to reconsider the way in which the relationship between society and technology is managed. This provides a basic agenda for change. We have also made practical suggestions to address the energy inequities and broader sustainable development agenda.


A review of the way in which the relationship between society and technology is managed will lead to a new role for engineers as mediators between society and technology.  It may also give rise to new professional groups and networks.  The IEE Engineering for Sustainable Future network will provide a forum for moving this agenda forward and to address the specific agenda:


·        How should the relationship between engineering and society be managed?

·        What are the proper and responsible boundaries for the engineering profession (including appropriate values and ethics)?

·        What are the characteristics, ethics, and values of the professional intermediary between technology and society, and is this person ‘an engineer’ at all?

·        What practical steps can we take now to address energy inequities and influence the development of the world as a whole onto a more sustainable path?


Specific ideas already emerging from this agenda include:


·        A programme targeted specifically at engineers building on the March IEE convention, offering a range of linked ‘soap-box’-type events locally, nationally, and internationally.

·        A technical assistance programme linking retired engineers with students to work on projects in developing nations.

·        A programme to identify opportunities where generalists can usefully be ‘sent in’ before specialists to sensitise to local needs, to establish appropriate processes, and to work towards the creation of locally-sustainable developing communities.

·        A programme to educate both engineers and educators in their broader roles and responsibilities.


Actions speak louder than words.  Pursuit of practical action, initiating a process of on-going learning, has the potential to lead to the clearest and fastest answer to the bigger issues.



You can contribute to the debate


In the spirit of the process behind this paper, we encourage your comments and proposals. Please send them by email to .





The authors would like to thank the IEE for their financial support to attend the INES conference.  We are also grateful to the members of the IEE who enthusiastically contributed to the consultation process.  Without their input this paper would not have been possible.  The IEE is not as a body responsible for the opinions expressed by the  authors.  Responsibility for any errors and omissions lies with the authors.



About the authors


Sarah Clarke was awarded her PhD from the Schulich School of Business,York

University, Toronto in 1999.  She has published widely in the areas of

business and the environment and sustainable technology management.  Sarah is

an associate member of the IEE and has an MBA from Manchester Business

School, England.  She is currently a researcher with Sustainable America in

New York.


Neil Morris is the current chairman of the IEE professional group committee M2 (Society and Environment).  He holds an MSc in Management of Technology from Brighton University, England.  He works for IBM’s Storage Subsystems Division at their Hursley Park development laboratory near Winchester, England.


Matthew Rhodes is chair-elect of the IEE Engineering for a Sustainable Future network, and associate editor of the Engineering Management Journal. He writes and speaks periodically on environmental and management issues and is currently engaged in creating a sustainable enterprise.

Notes and references

[1] The IEE is a leading global organisation for professional electrical engineers. Based in London, UK, it has some 140 000 members world-wide, and carries out an extensive programme of professional development, knowledge management, and professional services activities.

[2] This is illustrated, for example, by the preliminary findings of the Pilot Analysis of Global Ecosystems (PAGE) project run by the World Bank, the UNEP and the World Resources Institute. It is due to report in September 2000 (Linden, E. 2000. Condition Critical. Time Earth Day 2000 Special Edition: New York, Time: 18-21, 24).

[3] Pearce D., Markayanda, A., & E. Barbier.  1989. Blueprint for a green economy. London: Earthscan.

[4] Gross, E.  2000.  Year 2000 Position Paper. Sustainable America, New York.

[5] The most significant contributors to the consultation process were as follows.  Viewpoints are referenced in the text using the letter reference below (e.g., 5b for Broughton). Where applicable, full papers are available on request.

a.             Peter Achi, Nigeria                                               The role of professional bodies in nation building

b.             Tom Broughton, UK                                            Personal communication

c.             Dominic Burbridge, UK                                       Engineering for a sustainable future

d.             John Gamlin, UK                                  Personal communication

e.             Neil Hancock, Silicon Valley, USA    Personal communication

f.              Christine Knight, UK                                           Collected papers

g.             Charles Lam, Hong Kong                                   Learning to learn, work, and live amid

                                                                                                information society changes

h.             Oscar Potier, Portugal                                         The influence of globalisation in engineering

i.              Haile Tebubike, Ethiopia                                     Energy innovations for third world rural poverty


j.              Alan Turner-Morris, Australia                           It’s all the fault of Faraday!

k.                    Henry Watts, UK                                                 Engineering for a sustainable future

l.                     George Sudbury and Alan Mayne, UK            Conversations at the March convention

[6] Carson, R. 1962.  The Silent Spring.  Boston: Houghton, Mifflin.

[7] This technique is known as ‘backcasting’ (Vergagt, P. & M. van der Wel.  1998.  Backcasting:  An example of sustainable washing.  In Roome, N.J. (ed.).  Sustainability Strategies for Industry:  The Future of Corporate Practice, Washington, Island Press: 171-184.

[8] The Precautionary Principle was adopted by the UN Conference on Environment and Development (the Earth Summit) 1992.  It has been interpreted to mean that where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage to the environment, lack of scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation (Gilpin, A.1996.Dictionary of Environment and Sustainable Development, New York, Wiley: 178).

[9] The widespread development and application of chaos and complexity theory to these issues is a positive attempt to address this concern. See, for example, Capra, F. 1997. The Web of Life. San Francisco, Flamingo.

[10] For both sides of the GMO debate refer to, for example, OECD (FAO/WHO). 1996.  Safety Evaluation of Foods Derived by Modern Biotechnology:  Concepts and Principles, and Ho, M-W. and R. A. Steinbrecher.  1997.  Fatal Flaws in Food Safety Assessment:  Critique of the Joint FAO/WHO Biotechnology and Food Safety Report.  Third World Resurgence.  No 87/88, Nov/Dec.

[11] Irwin, A. & B.Wynne 1996.  Misunderstanding Science? : The Public Reconstruction of Science and Technology.  UK, Cambridge University Press.


[12] PAWS stands for Public Awareness of Science and Engineering.  Its aim is to encourage the creation of new television drama scripts that bear in some way on contemporary science or engineering. The drama may be factually based, fiction drawing on contemporary science or engineering, or "future-real", i.e. a scenario set in the near future that presents a realistic projection based on trends in current science and engineering.  PAWS is based in London, UK and has a regular newsletter called "Myths and Reality".

[13] The IEE's Engineering for a Sustainable Future network ran a survey during 1999/2000 where heads of university departments were asked how the subject of the ethical and moral aspects of an engineer's work was covered in their courses.  Replies were received from 36 departments.  The results indicated that most courses had a very small ethical content, in many cases just one lecture.  The results of the survey, and recommendations for the future, will be the subject of a forthcoming paper by J.Baden-Fuller and A.Godbold in the IEE Review.

[14] The IEE's Engineering for a Sustainable Future network ran a survey of IEE members, looking for examples of ethical dilemmas faced by engineers.  Inputs were invited through the internet and also by post.  The results are currently being collated, while preserving the anonymity of the contributors.  This will be the subject of a forthcoming paper in an IEE publication by A.Godbold.

[15] Rhodes, M. 1995.  Engineers and power: the engineering contribution to the political and managerial process. Engineering Management Journal, October: 229-234.


[16] Dyson, G. 1999. Darwin among the machines. London, Penguin.


[17] A study of sustainable technology management in Canada and the UK found that four distinct roles were adopted by people involved in the development of technical solutions to environmental and sustainability concerns: Catalysts, Spin-doctors, Mechanics and the Disinterested.  Catalysts were experts at networking and brought together a diversity of people from within and outside the firm to address a problem.  These networks formed in a self-organizing manner and were largely outside ‘formal’ organizational relationships.  Spin-doctors worked to legitimise environmental activities within the firm and to provide a platform for the activities of the Catalysts and Mechanics.  Mechanics undertook the design process in the framework established by the Catalysts and Spin-Doctors.  The Disinterested were those who rejected or were ignorant of environmental concerns and the relevance of them to their role.   Clarke, S.F. 1999. Knowledge networks and sustainable technology management: An international study of organisational practice.  Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation, York University, Canada.

[18] Clarke, S.F.  1999.  Beyond the technical fix: Engineering relationships for a sustainable future. CEA News letter, Autumn: 18-24.

[19] Clarke, S.F. ibid.

[20] Schumacher, E.F. 1963.  Small is Beautiful:  A study of economics as if people mattered.  London, Abacus.

[21] Sen, A. 1999. Development as freedom. Oxford, Oxford University Press.