29 May 2018 Photo Valentino Ndaba
Dr Hoppeners book explores sustainable development
Dr Mikateko Höppener writes about how engineering education holds the potential for sustainable development.

Engineering Education for Sustainable Development: A capabilities approach, is the title of Dr Mikateko Höppener’s book, which “demonstrates how the theoretical concepts of the capabilities approach can be applied in the context of engineering education, and how this could be used to add nuance to our understanding of the contribution higher education can make to human flourishing,” according to Prof Melanie Walker, SARCHi Chair and Director of the Higher Education and Human Development Research Programme at the University of the Free State (UFS).

Dr Höppener, a recently published author, is a former Postdoctoral Fellow and a current Senior Researcher in the programme. She previously completed her undergraduate degree in Social Sciences at the UFS and a master’s at Universität Bremen in Germany. 

Development and sustainability
Dr Höppener attributes her paradigm-shifting research journey to the capabilities approach: “I went from a place of thinking that development was a technical concept related to buildings, roads, bridges – and how those structures enabled people to live better lives, to exploring how engineering can contribute to poverty alleviation.”

Engineering students, teachers, and employers from the global South and North, South Africa, and Germany, provided insight which formed the premise on which Dr Höppener’s research is based. One of many interesting experiences in the process of writing the book, was recognising the strong sustainability focus produced by the relationship between engineering and a passion for helping people.

“In this book, I try to map out how thinking about the education of engineers from a capabilities perspective allows us to be more wide-ranging and critical in our approach to, and understanding of what engineers do, what engineering is for, and the extent to which it enables all people to live lives they have reason to value.”

The inaugural launch

Launched on 15 May 2018 at the Bloemfontein Campus, Engineering Education for Sustainable Development: A capabilities approach was published by Routledge in London and New York. Dr Höppener is the first of the PhD graduates in Prof Walker’s research programme to publish a monograph based on, but also going beyond her PhD in Development Studies.

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