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Engineering and Social Justice

In the University and Beyond

Edited by Caroline Baillie, Alice Pawley, and Donna Riley

Publication Year: 2008

An increasing number of researchers and educators in the field of engineering wish to integrate considerations of social justice into their work and practice. In this volume, an international team of authors, from a range of disciplinary backgrounds, invite scholars to think and teach in new ways that acknowledge the social, as well as technical, impact engineering can have on our world and that open possibilities for social justice movements to help shape engineering/technology. The book examines three areas of an engineering academic’s professional role: teaching, research, and community engagement. Some of the authors have created classes to help students think through their roles as engineering practitioners in a changing society, and present case studies here. They also explore questions of access to engineering education. Others contributors are focusing their research on improving the lives of the marginalized and powerless. Yet others are engaging local groups and exploring ways in which universities might serve their communities and in which academic institutions can themselves be more socially just. The contributors take a broad social and ecological justice perspective to critique existing practices and explore alternatives. The result is a handbook for all scholars of engineering who think beyond the technical elements of their field, and an essential reader for anyone who believes in the transformative power of the discipline.

Published by: Purdue University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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Foreword: Reflections on engineering and social justice in teaching, learning, and research

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pp. vii-xii

Engineering and engineering education in the United States have undergone tremendous changes since Thomas Jefferson signed the legislation establishing The United States Military Academy in 1802. Colonel Sylvanus Thayer served as Superintendent from l8l7 to l833 and made civil engineering the foundation of the curriculum. ...

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Introduction: In the university and beyond

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pp. 1-8

Many of us who have had the occasion to describe to others the work we do at the inter- section of engineering and social justice have often received a surprised response: “Oh! I hadn’t thought of those two as related before.” Or more bluntly, “Isn’t that a contradiction in terms?” ...

Teaching and learning: Bringing social justice into the engineering classroom

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1. Developing human-centered design practices and perspective through service-learning

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pp. 11-29

Engineering students (and practicing engineers) can fall into the trap of either imagining that they themselves can accurately and adequately represent their end-users’ needs and wishes, or forgetting the end-user entirely. As engineering students and practitioners focus on the technical, logistical, and economic aspects of their design...

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2. An ethnographic study of social justice themes in engineering education

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pp. 31-56

Theodore von Karman situates the engineering discipline, saying, “Scientists study the world as it is; engineers create the world that has never been.” This is a widely accepted characterization of the engineering discipline—the pursuit of reinventing the world for the benefit of humanity. ...

Research: Developing projects and outcomes that promote social justice

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3. What counts as "engineering": Toward a redefinition

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pp. 59-85

Women’s persisting underrepresentation in engineering disciplines, at all academic and professional levels, is determined to be a considerable problem for engineering education. Alarmingly, still relatively recent data indicate that the rate at which women are increasingly going into engineering undergraduate degree programs is decreasing...

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4. Waste for life: Socially just materials research

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pp. 87-106

As a materials engineer, I have been researching waste-based reinforced plastics for some time. In different countries the potential fibre and plastic vary. Thermoplastic (plastic that can be melted) may be sourced from bags, containers, or milk cartons, among other items, and waste fibre can be derived from many plants including sugar cane (Brazil)...

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5. Turbulent fluid mechanics, high speed weapons, and the story of the Earth

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pp. 107-120

New ideas in the study of turbulent fluid mechanics may serve as a mechanism for integrating issues related to social justice into the practice of engineering and engineering education. The present chapter details historical difficulties in research in turbulence, which has led to a consideration of a complex systems approach. ...

Engagement: Serving local and global communities

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6. Community colleges, engineering, and social justice

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pp. 123-142

If social justice is “the provision of equal life opportunities and conditions across demo- graphic categories” (Slaton, 2010, p. 24), and we would like the study and practice of engineering to increase social justice, then intervention into both engineering education and the larger social constructs that surround it is required. ...

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7. Low socioeconomic status individuals: An invisible minority in engineering

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pp. 143-156

Much has been written about the importance of and need for diversity in engineering today (National Academy of Engineering [NAE], 2002), yet as shown in Table 2, the United States does not have a very diverse engineering workforce in terms of gender and race “relative to their proportions in the population at large”...

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8. Viewing access and persistence in engineering through a socioeconomic lens

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pp. 157-180

“Education, then, beyond all other devices of human origin, is a great equalizer of conditions of man—the balance wheel of the social machinery. . . . It does better than to disarm the poor of their hostility toward the rich; it prevents being poor.” ...

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9. An alternative tour of Ford Hall: Service toward education and transformation

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pp. 181-200

The design and construction of a permanent building to house the first engineering pro- gram at a United States women’s college drew a great deal of campus and local community attention. The building project became the site of several narratives—narratives of corporate giving...

Index

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pp. 201-209


E-ISBN-13: 9781612491561
E-ISBN-10: 1612491561
Print-ISBN-13: 9781557536068
Print-ISBN-10: 1557536066

Page Count: 320
Publication Year: 2008

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Subject Headings

  • Engineering ethics.
  • Engineering -- Social aspects.
  • Engineering -- Study and teaching.
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