David Livingstone Centre for Sustainability

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"We are not students of some subject matter, but students of problems. And problems may cut right across the borders of any subject matter or discipline."

- Karl Popper, 1963 


The Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering at University of Strathclyde supports the David Livingstone Centre for Sustainability (DLCS) to facilitate better understanding and engagement among the wide range of academics and practitioners who are tackling the challenges of global sustainability.

The founding principle of the DLCS is that the challenges of global sustainability are inherently trans-disciplinary. Our role as educators and researchers is to provide an environment that fosters cross-disciplinary understanding, collaboration, and engagement.

To achieve our vision of a more sustainable society, we strive to embed the principles of sustainability in a system without discipline boundaries. We commit to the principles and practice of sustainable development and these themes underpin the wide range of our activities. Our efforts seek to:

  • Foster interactions and cooperation between disciplines to address the fundamental challenges of sustainability;
  • Eliminate barriers that prevent trans-disciplinary collaboration;
  • Promote practices that reduce our impact on the environment, society and economy;
  • Encourage students to develop transferable skill training based on experience, practice problem-based thinking and cultivate multiple fields of expertise; and
  • Nurture creativity and innovation to achieve our vision.

 Academics engaged with the DLCS include specialists from wide-range of disciplines:

  • Engineering (civil, environmental, transportation and chemical)
  • Sciences (chemistry, microbiology, ecology, geology, hydrology and physics)
  • Public Health (environmental health, community health, epidemiology)
  • Social Science (economics, planning, geography, sociology)
  • Law, Business and Humanities


We integrate teaching, research and knowledge exchange in our activities.


The DLCS embraces the importance of integrating environment, infrastructure, economy and societal values into the curricula at all educational levels. Specific degree programmes include

Open Access – supporting professional development.  Modules can be taken singly or gradually building towards a qualification

PhD & MPhil – fostering inter-disciplinary interactions and communication as part of a research programme.

MRes – 67% research, 33% taught component Master’s degree

MSc – 67% taught component, 33% research project

Knowledge Exchange

The Scottish Funding Council characterises knowledge exchange as “a dynamic, ongoing, two-way interaction and flow of ideas and people between colleges and universities and business, public and third-sector organisations.” Knowledge exchange is a core principle of the DLCS. Our activities include:

  • Providing advice and guidance in regards to policy (UNIDO, UNEP, GESAMP, and Scottish Government)
  • Collaboration and engagement with industry
  • Research with regulatory agencies
  • Outreach with schools and communities
  • Continuing Professional Development

The Department’s and DLCS research is highly interdisciplinary and includes engineers, scientists, geoscientists, social scientists, and experts in business and law; together we strive to deliver sustainable technological solutions to sustainability challenges. Our wide-ranging research portfolio includes leadership of both national and international endeavours. Some examples of our research activities include

  • Scotland Chikhwawa Health Initiative
  • Climate change risk and uncertainty
  • Environmental forensics
  • Emerging pollution & health risks
  • Remediation of contaminated land
  • Sustainable infrastructure
International context


Our researchers have experience carrying out research internationally, including recent activity in: Malawi, Kenya, Swaziland, Thailand, China, Cuba, Brazil, United States and Canada.


The David Livingstone Centre for Sustainability has been incorporated within the

Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering.

Please visit the Department Home Page for information on department activities and staff details.