Traditionally in Germany environmental engineering education took place within the context of a civil engineering programme. There were reasons for this: the beginning of much of what we understand today to be environmental works fell within the parameters of city engineering. There were and are advantages mostly in view of the necessary planning, construction and operation of environmental infrastructure. There are also disadvantages which become more and more pronounced as the field of environmental protection expands: the civil engineer frequently lacks basic training in disciplines such as biology and chemistry and carries a large and sometimes burdensome knowledge of other less relevant subjects. Thus, educators begin to look for alternatives.
This paper deals with an alternative that was developed some ten years ago and therefore has proven viable and successful: at the University of Karlsruhe students may choose to major in environmental engineering within the context or on the basis of an economics and business administration curriculum. The basic question here is as to what extent the student masters the field of environmental engineering if he or she has predominantly a solid background in social sciences and very little in natural sciences.
The paper will describe the curriculum in structure and intensity and evaluate the accumulated knowledge and suitability of these students in terms of actual environmental problems. This will be done in terms of examination performance parallel and/or relative to traditionally trained civil environmental engineers as well as in terms of topics successfully treated in Masters' theses. In conclusion, it is argued that such combination of curricula should not be confined to economic sciences and environmental engineering but also be planned for legal sciences and environmental engineering.