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Testimony of

David H. Marks
James Mason Crafts Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Director, MIT Programs for Environmental Engineering Education and Research

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139

To the US House of Representatives
Committee on Science, Space and Technology
Subcommittee on Technology, Environment and Aviation
Hearings on National Initiatives in Green Technologies-

Legislative Proposals
The Environmenual Technologies Act of 1993

November 18, 1993

10:30 am to 12:30 PM Rayburn House Office Building

Room 2318

November 18, 1993

I am pleased to have this opportunity to address the Subcommittee on the National

Initiatives in Green Technologies-Legislative Proposals. At MIT, I am an educator of two

different types of students: Those who are preparing for careers as environmental

professionals and those whose professional decisions in technology, management and

policy will have a great impact on the environment. We have done a good job of educating

the former (about 5% of MIT students) for over 100 years. We are just now learning and

experimenting with new curricula, subjects, modules, internships in industry and new methods of analysis to educate the other 95%. This is a critical transition as future

sustainable development will depend on the knowledge, experiences, methods and attitudes

of all our graduates. It is important that the educational portion of the proposed legislation

learn from some of the difficulties introduced in this transition such as disciplinary

boundary barriers, the lack of critical interdisciplinary research and the lack of awareness of

the need for students to understand the social, economic and political context of their

technologic and scientific studies. I would like to respond to the questions put to me by the

Subcommittee as follows:



1) How is MIT attempting to educate its scientists and engineers generally

about integrating environmental sustainability into their analysis?

The important prerequisite was to form an interdisciplinary faculty group interested

in integration and development in this area. The purpose of such a group is to insure cooperation across disciplinary boundaries. PEEER (the MIT Program for Environmental Engineering Education and Research) is a "virtual" program. Faculty from different disciplines belong voluntarily drawn by the intellectual challenge and their desires to

improve our performance in this area. Together they have helped to build exciting new

programs such as:

a. Programs for Environmental Professionals

A new undergraduate degree program in Environmental Engineering Science

administered by Civil and Environmental Engineering announces the start of a whole new discipline. The program presently has about 5% of MITs undergraduates enrolled.

The provision of six subject Minor Programs in Environmental Engineering Science

for Students in other Engineering, Science, Planning, Management and Humanities


Preeminent Professional and Research Oriented Graduate Programs in every aspect

of Environmental Engineering Science.

b. Programs for Other Professionals to help them increase their knowledge of how decisions about material selection, technologic process, product use and design and recycling impact sustainable development

New undergraduate and graduate literacy subjects that require few prerequisites

have been established. An example has been an award winning series in Chemicals in the Environment covering sources, controls, movement in the environment, toxicology and

regulation and policy.

The introduction of new introduction of small environmental modules and examples

into basic professional subjects. We want to send the message that every professional has, among his/her responsibilities, concern for the environment.

New professional and research degrees for other science and technology majors.

We have developed a new Masters degree in industrial ecology which features an internship

in industry and integrating knowledge about life cycle analysis. We have developed new

research and educational programs in environmentally-sound technologies, in green design,

in recycling, business and the environment, and in energy and the environment.

Both these programs are increasingly interacting with industry and goverment to put students into intem situations in industry, to bring practitioners back to the university

and to bring professional tools and approaches (like TQM) into education.

Through this mechanism we have been able to make these opportunities available to all our

students. (Please recall that even the poets at MIT take a year-long core of calculus,

physics, chemistry, biology and other science- and technology-intensive subjects freshman

year.) Thus our students bring strong reprequisite knowledge and problem solving skills

to these difficult problems.

2) How many other colleges and universities also have well developed

programs to integrate environmental sustainability into traditional science and engineering education?

We see other schools attempting to do similar things, although most have focused

on research first and education second. (Tufts and Michigan are notable exceptions.) All have to fight the battle of how to bring faculty from different disciplines to cooperate. Our

experience tells us it is better to let this grow in a "bottoms up" voluntary manner than to

force it from the "top down" with permanent artificial structures such as Departments or Schools of the Environment. Programs based on this legislation should attempt to grow and demonstrate voluntary cooperation instead.

There is still missing knowledge to keep the process growing - which this legislation should attempt to address through research for education. Life Cycle Analysis

has many unresolved information and philosophical issues. Industrial organization may impede technologic process. Firms are also interested in goals of lower cost, higher quality, better worker safety, reduced liability, and global competitiveness as well as sustainable development. How does one design for all these goals? The bill should encourage the building of this new knowledge and the free interchange of new materials

and concepts between universities as well as between government, industry and public


3) How could the federal government best catalyze this type of educational

activity nationally?

A) Encourage at participating universities the building of "voluntary infrastructure" to bring together the many disciplines needed to make this process work. Provide these

organizations with incentives for new activities based on cooperative action.

B) This education is important for all students, not just those who want to be

environmental professionals. For those who are on other tracks, influence them through literacy subjects, modules in existing subjects, and environmentally-oriented design

exercises. Make sure that students learn the social, economic and political context of their

technologies as sustainable development is about making difficult choices among

alteratives in multi-cultural settings with different values.

C) Build strong links within academia and between academia, industry, government

and public groups. Mechanisms are incentives for bringing students and faculty into

contact with "real problems", and for bringing professionals back to campus.

D) Help provide the basic knowledge needed to expand life cycle analysis, industrial metabolism and industrial ecology concepts from rough sketches to fully

understood methodologic tools with the data and case studies needed to use them.

I would like to thank the Subcommittee for this opportunity to give my views on

this important piece of legislation, and I will be pleased to respond to your questions.

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