Engineering Competencies in International Development Co-operation - the Case of Capacity Development in Environment (CDE)

Arne Wangel

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


    The focus of the paper is the need for engineers to develop new competencies, when they are involved in international development cooperation. Drawing on the case of the Post-RIO strategy of capacity development in environment in developing countries, the paper reviews a recent response to this need as reflected in field course programmes for Danish engineering students offered by the Danish University Consortium for Environment and Development, Urban Areas & industry (duced, iu&a). following a discussion of these experiences, the paper suggests improvements to the approach and curricula of such courses, which give emphasis to local views on institutional development and policy change. engineers from industrialised countries have a long tradition of working in the third world: building infrastructure to facilitate exports of raw materials during colonial times; implementing development aid programmes after the Second World War; relocating production to selected areas in the Third World since the 1970s; and presently contracted by new networked enterprises sourcing and combining economic activities throughout a global economy. First, the paper summarizes main points in the literature on the transfer of managerial models across cultures, on how to develop inter-cultural competence in management, and on the significance of differences in engineering and industrial culture. Second, the concepts of dynamic assimilation and local learning processes and their implications for the practicing of technology transfer to developing countries by engineers are discussed. Third, the paper focuses on the experience of Danish engineers doing consultancies during the planning, implementation and evaluation of development aid project and sector programmes. In presenting the case on capacity development in environment, the paper reviews the key concepts and indicators of this strategy. This is followed by a discussion on the implication of implementing the CDE strategy for engineers’ work practices in development cooperation. Also, the findings from a survey on the Danish resource base relevant to environmental assistance provide a wider perspective on the need for new competencies. Funded by the Danish Agency for Environment and Development (DANCED) of the Ministry of Environment and Energy, a consortium of five Danish universities has conducted a series of field courses in Thailand, Malaysia and South Africa as part of a course offering targeted at students, who seek to combine their main qualification with a competence in environmental aid. The paper outlines the objectives, format and contents of the courses, as well as the process of planning and implementation jointly with local colleagues, and discusses the findings from the evaluation conducted by the course organisers themselves. The paper concludes that a donor perspective primarily guides the field courses. As such, the courses only develop limited competencies in relation to capacity development. The approach and curricula of the courses need to give emphasis to an understanding of local worldviews, processes of policy formulation, and institutional change.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationProceedings of the SEFI Annual Conference 2001 ‘New Engineering Competencies – Changing the Paradigm
    Publication date2001
    Publication statusPublished - 2001
    EventSEFI Annual Conference: New Engineering Competences - Changing the Paradigm - Copenhagen, Denmark
    Duration: 11 Sept 200111 Sept 2001


    ConferenceSEFI Annual Conference


    • Engineering
    • Pedagogy
    • Developing countries


    Dive into the research topics of 'Engineering Competencies in International Development Co-operation - the Case of Capacity Development in Environment (CDE)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this