Document Type

Conference Paper


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence



Publication Details

Proceedings of REES AAEE 2021 The University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia:


CONTEXT Engineering is uniquely placed to help address global challenges such as those surrounding the climate crisis, and the sustainable use and management of resources. However, studies have found UK engineering companies that have adopted sustainability strategies do not have enough staff with the skills to achieve them. There is an urgent need to upskill the current workforce and prepare future generations to operate in a responsible and ethical manner in tackling today's challenges. Recent updates to the standard of engineering accreditation in the UK provide notable opportunities to transform university curricula to create globally responsible engineers.

PURPOSE This preliminary study explores the integration of global responsibility areas of learning and skill sets in engineering education accreditation. Recent revisions to accreditation are to be implemented at the end of 2021. The purpose of this study is to highlight how global responsibility principles are integrated and framed in engineering accreditation in the UK today.

APPROACH This paper explores patterns within the recent updates made to engineering accreditation in the UK. The previous third edition and newly published fourth edition of the Engineering Council Accreditation of Higher Education Programmes (AHEP) are central to this research. Forward looking strategies from prominent voices in the sector including the Royal Academy of Engineering (2020-2025) and Engineers Without Borders UK (2021-2030), are viewed through the lens of Bloom’s Taxonomy, a hierarchical model for categorizing learning objectives into levels of complexity, to generate preliminary findings.

ACTUAL OUTCOMES Addressing sustainability, global responsibility and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) requires more complexity in a students’ learning process than engineering curricula currently provide. Sustainability, ethics, diversity and inclusion are fundamental to engineering education and enable inclusive design solutions and outcomes. The most notable change to AHEP is refining how global responsibility is presented and evolving the way it is taught. Changes incorporated in the new AHEP4 recognise the responsibility and skills needed of engineers to create positive change to society and global challenges. Yet by the time AHEP4 is realised the SDGs will be halfway through the Decade of Action. Achieving crucial SDG benchmarks will require both curricular change embedded in accreditation standards and a notable shift in the culture of engineering that embeds a professional commitment to behave more responsibly, individually and collectively.

SUMMARY Incorporating global responsibility into engineering accreditation is necessary to prepare students to address global challenges. Newly updated accreditation standards frame engineering education around principles of globally responsible engineering while encouraging more complexity within the curricula, such as through problem-based learning approaches. This provides a strong starting point for engineering curricula and educators to prepare emerging engineers to act responsibly in the face of the urgent and dynamic global challenges.