Call to participate: Built environment curricula in the Asia-Pacific region: responding to climate change

Deadline is 31 October 2015


Expressions of interest are sought from ProSPER.Net universities to contribute and participate in the Built environment curricula in the Asia-Pacific region: responding to climate change Phase 2 project.  The ProSPER.Net Board at its July 2015 meeting approved this project.  This note sets out background to the Phase 2 project and outlines its key elements.  It also sets out a brief for ProSPER.Net universities interested in participating and submitting an expression of interest.

ProSPER.Net universities that join the project will participate by undertaking a case study analysis of a built environment profession and higher education professional education.  This analysis will focus on the capacity of the profession and the system of professional education to respond to the challenge of climate change and contribute to decarbonising the built environment.  They will also participate in the broader discussion of strategy that seeks to enhance the capacity of built environment professions to respond to the challenge of decarbonising the built environment.

The project background and the requirements and analytical framework to be used in analysing a profession and the system of professional education are set out below.


Phase 1 of the ProSPER.NET project, Sustainability education in the engineering and built environment curriculum in the Asia-Pacific, examined sustainability education in a built environment programs in member universities. It focused on the skills and knowledge required by graduates so that they might be better equipped to lower energy consumption in buildings and contribute to the transition to low carbon societies.  A workshop and follow-up consultation by nine ProSPER.NET universities industry participants, led by RMIT University, produced a guide for integrating sustainability in curricula in the built environment professional degrees (UNU-IAS 2013; Iyer-Raniga and Andamon2012).

This project also found that faculty with sustainability expertise and commitments were seeking assistance in extending curriculum change beyond single courses to whole professional programs.  In other words the project found that faculty were seeking assistance in a larger change process that led to sustainability knowledge being embedded in whole academic programs.  In particular they sought assistance in:

  • integrating sustainability content into curriculum at the course and program levels for built environment professional education
  • developing a greater capacity to contribute to broader curriculum development processes within their universities
  • relating their work on curriculum reform to broader built environment industry, professional and governmental interests.

These findings have led to a Phase 2 project that responds to these findings with a project that seeks to couple bottom up and top-down support for systemic change in built environment curriculum within universities.  It does this by considering the way university built environment programs relate to their respective professions, built environment industry interests and government agencies.

The Phase 2 project

These findings have provided the basis for developing a Phase 2 project with three components: developing a framework for analysis; case studies; report and presentations.

Developing a framework for analysis

The first component is the development of a framework for the analysis of built environment professions and professional education.  This is initially being developed through a case study of the architecture profession and architectural education in Indonesia.  Associate Professor Usha Iyer-Raniga and Professor Tony Dalton from RMIT University are preparing this case study.  It is focusing on built environment regulatory context; profession growth and identity; governance of curriculum governance; features of current curriculum; and expectations of the profession and professional education.

Initial findings from this case study research illustrate the nature of the analysis that is being adopted for this project.  In summary, initial findings are:

  • Demand for built environment professional services including architectural services is high in the context of high rates of urbanisation and city building resulting in eighty authorized architecture schools or programs.
  • A program of building code development and implementation through the Ministry of Public Works, supported by International Finance Corporation (IFC), has commenced.
  • Building code implementation is constrained by the availability of trained built environment professionals and administrative and governance capacity in regional governments.
  • Green building is being promoted through a voluntary accreditation scheme within the large corporate sector where building owners are draw on their international knowledge.
  • The Association of Indonesian Architects with a membership of approximately 14,000 registered architects, leads a program of professional development and including modules on environment and sustainability.
  • There has been no review of the nature and extent of sustainability learning in architecture programs and there is no way of knowing what sustainability knowledge has been included in courses and programs.
  • Sustainability education in architecture programs and particular courses appears to be based on the initiatives of individual faculty with expertise and commitment.
  • An embryonic organisation, Building in Indonesia Sustainability Alliance (BISA) supported by the IFC, comprised of academics, professionals, and industry representatives is beginning to review sustainability in built environment professional education.

In summary, this component of Phase 2 will present a first case study of one built environment profession in a rapidly urbanising developing country.  It will be presented to a workshop drawn from ProSPER.Net universities, government agencies, international agencies, industry groups and NGO stakeholders.  The feedback from this workshop will be used to refine the framework used to research four further case studies of built environment professions in the Asia-Pacific region outlined in the next section.

Case studies

The second component will comprise four further case studies undertaken by ProSPER.Net universities.  Each case study will focus on one built environment profession and the system of higher education professional education that supports this profession.  These case studies will use the framework developed through the initial case study on the architecture profession and architectural education in Indonesia.  Broadly the elements of this framework are the following:

  1. The development and implementation of the built environment regulations and systems of administration requiring those responsible for designing and constructing buildings, to meet energy and water efficiency standards and the challenges that the development and implementation of the regulatory regime poses for the profession.
  2. The development of the professional association, with a particular focus on its development and engagement with sustainability issues through (a) professional development and (b) relationships with higher education institutions responsible for the education of new professionals.
  3. The governance and consultative arrangements used for the revision of curriculum at a program level within universities and with a particular focus on (a) the role of the professional association (b) networks of educators within universities and (c) government agencies with responsibilities for higher education curriculum development.
  4. The main features of the curriculum evident in undergraduate and post-graduate professional programs in two case study schools or departments and an analysis of the of the curriculum so as to assess the presence and/or absence of knowledge about how to contribute to decarbonising the built environment.
  5. The changing expectations of the profession and professional education evident in the broader debate between government agencies, industry associations and civil society organisations about the challenges for the continued design, construction and management of the built environment in the context of climate change.

ProSPER.Net universities who will become participating institutions following this expression of interest process will undertake these case studies.  It is expected that each case study report will be approximately five thousand words in length.  The research evidence presented in the report will be referenced to documents and interviews undertaken during the course of the project.  A senior researcher from the participating institutions will be responsible for the completion of the case study. A research assistant employed locally and paid for through the ProSPER.Net project budget will support the senior researcher.  Payment will be made upon completion of the case study.  It is proposed that participating institutions will also attend and participate in the workshop.

Report and presentations

The preparation and presentation of a report to the ProSPER.Net General Assembly in mid 2016 forms the third component of the project.  This report will be based on the Indonesian case study, the workshop and the four further case studies. It is envisaged that this project will also result in a number of peer-reviewed publications.  In summary the report and subsequent publications will present an argument for a strategic and systematic focus on the development of knowledge and skills that will support built environment professionals respond to the challenge of climate change and contribute to decarbonising the built environment.

Next steps

We would like to hear from ProSPER.Net members interested in participating in the Built environment curricula in the Asia-Pacific region: responding to climate change Phase 2 project.

In particular we are keen to learn what built environment profession in your country you think could be the focus of a case study.  For example, would it be possible to prepare a case study on engineering professional education and the engineering profession in Thailand?  Similarly, is there scope to prepare a case study with a focus on architecture in Malaysia and another one on urban planning in China?  There are many possibilities.  Of course there will be questions.  If so please set them out and we will do our best to answer.  We could also arrange to respond through a discussion on Skype.  We look forward to hearing from you.  We aim to conclude case study participant arrangements by 31st October 2015.


Associate Professor Usha Iyer-Raniga,

Professor Tony Dalton,

RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia