Chapter 7 - Social Dimensions of Sustainability and Engineering



Chapter 7 – Social Dimensions of Sustainability and Engineering

"I believe that we cannot and will not begin to take care of the world until we become whole ourselves" Ehrenfeld [see reference 1]


So far the focus of this module has been on the environmental impacts of human progress, and the sustainability issued raised by them. However, it is important to be reminded that an engineer’s duty foremost is to society, and that engineers can have a part to play in working towards solutions to social as well as environmental problems. This chapter will firstly outline social issues firstly related to inequality between nations within the world, and the associated problems arising from these such as poverty in less economically developed countries. It will then explore social issues facing more economically developed countries, before looking at the links between the two and how globalisation has had a part to play. Links between climate change, poverty, globalisation and engineering will then be outlined, before finally looking at suggestions for how engineering can assist in progressing social issues towards a more sustainable future.

‘Our collective challenge – governments, the private sector, humanitarian organizations, civil society groups and others – is to remedy a gross violation of the most basic rights – to clean water, adequate food, basic health care – that currently leads to millions of children and women dying annually from easily preventable causes. This is a moral imperative. Every child who dies in extreme poverty represents an unacceptable loss of human potential.’

Dean Hirsch, 2008, the President of World Vision International [see reference 2]

above text sourced from The Open University under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Licence


Rusty Blazenhoff [see reference 3] Jcandeli [see reference 4]

above image [left] sourced from The Laughing Squid (Author: JeongMee Yoon) under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License

above image [right] sourced from (Author: jcandeli) under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) license