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Bringing standardization in University Curricula: Making the case (ECE/TRADE/440)

Published: July 2018

This Publication (ECE/TRADE/440) advocates for integrating education about standardization into the curricula of educational establishments. It presents evidence of the relevance of standards for policymakers and business executives as well as professionals. It then reviews the efforts of UNECE since 2012 to date to improve education about standardization, as well as activities underway by universities, standards bodies and independent associations. The conclusions present priorities and directions for future work.

Standards shape our everyday lives. There are standards behind almost every product and, increasingly, behind most traded services as well. From the stoves we use to cook, to the equipment we use at work, to the buildings we live in, standards help ensure quality, safety and reliability. They drive economic efficiency, facilitate trade and are key to tackling the challenge of moving towards a more sustainable and resilient model of development.

The importance of teaching standards to students majoring in technical disciplines, especially engineering, has long been recognized. Most of those students will receive at least some education on standards and related issues during their university years. Yet this topic has not gained sufficient attention in the area of non-technical disciplines.

This paper shows why education about standardization is useful for professionals of non-technical disciplines as well. Future managers, lawyers, policy makers would all benefit from at least a basic awareness of what standards are, how they are developed, and how they can be used in different contexts.

The paper offers insight on why education on standards and standards-related issues matters, especially at present time. It then describes the activities of UNECE to improve education about standardization, and features a comprehensive overview of activities of other organizations. The conclusions discuss priorities for future work.