Wicked Problem Perspectives Working Group

Standards: Enabler of Sustainability

May 17-18, 2017

Event Description

Presented by

Michigan State University in collaboration with NSF International and the Northwestern University Buffett Institute and sponsored by the National institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

Sustainability is a significant and growing concern for US industry confronting increased materials and energy costs and heightened expectations from their customers, investors, and communities to address environmental and societal needs. A recent McKinsey survey of industry executives reported that “sustainability is becoming a more strategic and integral part of their businesses.”  In response, companies are seeking ways to measure, verify, benchmark, communicate and guide usage and impact across full product lifecycles and including complex production and distribution systems and supply chains.

Sustainability is addressed in higher education through a variety of comprehensive and interdisciplinary programs and courses ranging from product and service design to environmental management, engineering and science. However, the fundamental and enabling role of technical standards is often absent. This industry-academic workshop will explore the nature and potential of technical standards that support sustainable solutions to the challenges industry is facing and will explore strategies to stimulate increased attention to standards-in-teaching.

This workshop has two interrelated components:

  • Day 1 centers on presentations by industry stakeholders, teaching and research faculty, and standards experts on the most pressing sustainability challenges.  Breakout sessions will offer deeper discussion on implications and pedagogy.
  • Day 2 (half-day) further addresses curricula development, pedagogy, and suggested class approaches.  Using a role-play exercise, participants will grapple with the challenges inherent in standards negotiation to understand first-hand subtle related issues and processes.