The Natural Edge Project The Natural Advantage of Nations Whole System Design Factor 5 Cents and Sustainability Higher Education and Sustainable Development

"(Biomimicry) Introduces a concept worthy of wide exploration in a world dazzled by the industrial artefacts around us... Over the millions of years, nature's life forms through natural selection have had to live with the constraints of the entropy law on a solar budget."
Wes Jackson, The Land Institute

Introduction to Sustainable Development for Engineering and Built Environment Professionals

Assessment Information

Assessment Summary


On completion of the three day course, participants will be provided with a Certificate of Participation. For students seeking credit for a 10 Credit Point value course, assessment requirements comprise the following:

  • 15% (Daily during Course): Short written items at the conclusion of each day’s learning.

  • 25% (Day 3 - Evening): Individual presentation task. Given the activities and discussions undertaken during the course, students will choose their topic for the major assessment item. Students will present a 5 minute summary of the rationale of their proposed topic and intended methodology to an audience.

  • 60% (Post-Attendance): Major Assessment Item (Due within 3 weeks of course completion). Students will research a minimum of 10 key papers in relation to their topic (literature review) and prepare a paper, drawing on their professional context. Depending on the quality of the papers produced, there may be the opportunity for actual submission and/ or publication.

More detail will be provided on each assessment item in accordance with usual assessment briefing requirements, prior to commencement of the short course.

The course facilitators will be available via email on completion of the course, for questions relating to the major assessment item.

Course Accreditation

Satisfactory completion of coursework and associated assessments will be formally recognised as credit towards the RMIT Master of Sustainable Practice (Supervisor - Associate Professor Roger Hadgraft, School of Civil and Chemical Engineering).

Each course is equivalent to one quarter of a Graduate Certificate. RMIT postgraduate credit is recognised at a number of Australian and International Universities.


Sample Quizes

Unit 1

  1. List one global phenomenon that is a major driver of weather on the planet?

  2. Briefly describe the ‘waves of innovation’ model, and the concept of the ‘sixth wave’ of innovation.

  3. What is the field of science called that is concerned with design that emulates nature?

  4. Briefly describe one example of Biomimicry?

  5. Name one Millennium Development Goal.

  6. What is the Montreal Protocol?

  7. By what year do the Millennium Development Goals aim to achieve a 50% reduction in world poverty?

  8. What is an ‘Externality’? Use an example to describe the term.

  9. Briefly describe the ‘tragedy of the commons’.

  10. Choose your favourite ‘phrase’/ ‘saying’ from today!

Unit 2

  1. What is ‘decoupling’?

  2. Provide an example of decoupling.

  3. List one environmental example and one social example of a business ‘driver for change’ towards more sustainable practices.

  4. Briefly describe the Triple Bottom Line (John Elkington) concept.

  5. List one advantage and one disadvantage of using the triple bottom line tool to describe and measure organisational performance.

  6. According to the Rocky Mountain Institute, what percentage of materials is in use 6 months after production?

  7. Briefly describe the term ‘radical resource productivity’ and explain what ‘Factor 4’ means in this context.

  8. What is the concept of “Cradle to Cradle”?

  9. List two considerations when undertaking a ‘life cycle assessment’ of a product or service.

  10. Define Whole System Design. How does this form of design differ from the traditional form of engineering practice?

Unit 3

  1. The evidence assembled shows that a company’s environmental performance is good for their financial bottom line. Why is this?

  2. Choose two societal groups from the Whole of Society Diagram and list two key differences and two key similarities between them.

  3. What two factors do you think are the most important in allowing companies to improve their environmental performance and their financial performance?

  4. Given the overwhelming evidence assembled above list one reason why some businesses still believe that seeking to improve their environmental performance will harm their bottom line?

  5. Define, using your own words, the concept of a ‘whole of society’ approach.

  6. List three terms associated with a whole of society approach.

  7. Give an example of a community engagement method.

  8. What City in Brazil has made significant advances in innovating for a sustainable future? Give one interesting statistic from the case study covered today.

  9. What is the aim of the Strategic Questioning approach?

  10. What does the “Amoeba” model describe?

The Natural Edge Project Engineering Sustainable Solutions
Program is supported by the Australian National Commission
for UNESCO through the International Relations Grants
Program of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

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