Sustainable development and professional practice

David Laws*, Anne Loeber

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This paper explores the implications of treating sustainable development as a feature of the design and implementation of concrete technical projects, rather than as an abstract line of thinking about possible futures. In such ventures, human dimensions of sustainability, like managing conflicting interpretations and coping with divergent plans and perspectives, become core questions for the professionals involved. The paper describes four common dilemmas that shape this process and discusses their persistent influence on professional practice. The paper argues that confronting these problems will lead engineers to approach technical projects as arenas for learning and problem-oriented negotiation. The conclusion reviews practical strategies that engineers and other professionals may employ to cope with the complexities of integrating sustainability into their practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-33
Number of pages9
JournalProceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers: Engineering Sustainability
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Codes of practice &standards
  • Project management
  • Sustainability


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