Sustainability literacy and engineering : Experiences from a literacy test as a teaching and assessment tool in Nordic universities

M. Karvinen*, T. S. Grindsted, A. Keränen, J. E. Hermansen, L. K. Selbekk, S. Sohlo, J. Sorvari

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The role of engineering education is essential in global sustainability transformation, considering the impact technology has on the environment and societies. Many suggestions have been made on what competences universities should teach to educate game changers and how to improve sustainability literacy. Despite the growing number of studies in the field, research is scarce on how to assess what the students know about global sustainability challenges and how to embed sustainability literacy into curricula. This paper presents the first experiences on using a sustainability literacy test (the Sulitest) as a teaching tool. The test was developed in 2012, and it includes global and national questions on multifaceted sustainability challenges. Our results are based on national questions created for the Nordic countries and on the test results we got from 700 students in Finland, Sweden and Norway. The Sulitest seems to be useful as a teaching tool, but the national questions ought to be re-evaluated to achieve balance between different aspects of sustainability. The test has weaknesses regarding its use as a curricula development tool, but it can facilitate teachers in engineering education in drawing a comprehensive picture on the problems the future engineers are required to solve.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 45th SEFI Annual Conference 2017 - Education Excellence for Sustainability, SEFI 2017
EditorsJosé Carlos Quadrado, Jorge Bernardino, Joao Rocha
PublisherSEFI Société Européenne pour la Formation des Ingénieurs
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9789899887572
Publication statusPublished - 2017
MoE publication typeA4 Article in a conference publication
EventAnnual Conference of the European Society for Engineering Education - Terceira Island, Azores, Angra do Heroismo, Portugal
Duration: 18 Sep 201721 Sep 2017
Conference number: 45


ConferenceAnnual Conference of the European Society for Engineering Education
Abbreviated titleSEFI
CityAngra do Heroismo


  • Literacy test
  • Nordic universities
  • Sustainability learning


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