Green Engineering: Engineering Sustainability Through Critical Synthesis

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In the course of writing this paper I will try to show how the new content of sustainability science is integrated into the patterns of an emerging Green Engineering (GE) cognitive praxis. A historical and linguistic overview of “technology” will intent on pointing to the non-inherency of the demarcation between the “technical” and the “societal,” reinforcing my outlook on GE as a type of contemporary green technoscience. Next, I will maintain that the conundrums and various dualisms that accompanied the development of environmentalism have, ipso facto, strongly marked the troublesome case of “sustainability” and “sustainable development,” as those container concepts made their way in science and engineering. Indeed, the technoscientific nature of GE will be highlighted via the discussion of a new set of socio-epistemic conditions that make the very existence of a GE cognitive praxis currently possible. Further, the same GE cognitive praxis will be depicted as urging a triple-level change in the conception of sustainability through the working of what I am calling here a critical synthesis. Ultimately, the thrust of my argument will be that the critical synthesis ―what makes GE an altogether different enterprise from any former route to the quest for sustainable development― consists in the derailment of sustainability from the tracks of a single perspective. GE is claiming its novelty and originality by adhering to the triple bottom line; that is through the blurring of the distinction between the three prevalent narratives of efficiency, equity and ethics.


Keywords: Green Engineering, Sustainability Science, Green Technologies, Narratives on Sustainability
Stream: Knowledge and Technology
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Nicholas Sakellariou

Doctoral Student, Department of Science and Technology in Society, Virginia Polytechnic School and State University
Blacksburg, Virginia, USA

I was born in Athens, Greece in 1979. After receiving my diploma in Mineral Resources Engineering from the Technical University of Crete I pursued a Master's Degree in the History and Philosophy of Science in the National Technical University of Athens. My thesis examined the relationship between the engineers and the Greek state in the nineteenth century; roughly between 1830 and 1870. Precisely, my research traced the early developmental stages of the professional category of “the engineer” in Greece and connected them to the formulation process of what counted as the modern Greek state. Since the fall of 2006 I am a doctoral student at Virginia Tech's Department of Science and Technology in Society. For the past year I have worked as a recitation instructor for the undergraduate course “Engineering Cultures,” which focuses on the different types of engineering knowledge, practice, and education in various national and social settings. My research interests include issues of Technology policy; the development of Green Engineering; the History and Philosophy of Technology; Engineering Studies; the Philosophy of Science and Technology Studies.

Ref: T08P0087