Built Environment Curricula in the Asia-Pacific Region: Responding to Climate Change
By Tony Dalton and Usha Iyer-Raniga, RMIT University
Originally published 15 November 2017
ProSPER.Net (this is not an ACW publication)
This project, led by RMIT University, Australia, looked at five case studies of Built Environment (BE) professions from China, Thailand, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Indonesia. Contributing institutions to the project included the University of Tongji, China, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka, Asian Institute of Technology, Thailand, University of the Philippines, Philippines, and Gadjah Mada University, Indonesia.
In the current urban century, cities face multiple challenges. Current and future built environment professionals, whether involved in city governance and planning, urban development, or urban design, need to practice ethically and sustainably as they cope with rapid economic change, technological change, social change, urban growth, climate change, resilience and adaptation pressures. They need to be supported so that they can develop competencies and practices around good planning and design, environmental knowledge, principles of social equity, and good governance.
Developing these competencies in many parts of the Asia-Pacific is not easy. Both cities and higher education systems in many countries are growing very rapidly. This means that the systems used to regulate city building and grow the number of graduates able to design, build and regulate city building are under considerable pressure. In this context little attention has been given to ensuring that sustainability knowledge is at the core of the curriculum of built environment academic programmes such as planning, project management, architecture and engineering.
The project found that governments in the five Asia-Pacific countries studied struggle to implement green building codes. Built environment professional associations and regulators of the professions fail to recognise the challenge of climate change and sustainability. Future graduates will not have the capacity to contribute to decarbonisation of the built environment unless there is systemic change in what students are taught. Built environment programmes typically offer sustainability courses as electives, not as core. This needs to change so that knowledge of climate change and sustainability become core graduate attributes.
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