Asee peer logo

A Multidisciplinary Approach to curriculum Development for Engineering Graduates who are Socially and Environmentally Just

Download Paper |


2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Engineering Ethics and Justice

Tagged Division

Engineering Ethics

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.71.1 - 22.71.11



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Caroline Baillie University of Western Australia

visit author page

Chair in Engineering Education
Faculty of Engineering, Computing and Maths,
University of Western Australia

visit author page

Download Paper |


A multidisciplinary approach to curriculum development for engineering graduates who are socially and environmentally justThe traditional approach to teaching engineering problem solving, where students are limited tofinding purely technical solutions, is beginning to be critiqued in the light of rapid globalisation,and an increasing acceptance of the need for graduate engineers to locate technical requirementswithin their social, economic and environmental context. Problems do not know disciplinaryboundaries and engineers as well as other professionals of tomorrow will need to learn newinterdisciplinary approaches to problem solving which incorporate thinking from disciplinesusually associated with the social sciences and humanities. This paper reports on a largemultidisciplinary project supported by the Australian Learning and Teaching Council, to researchappropriate curricula and explore and implement pedagogies, which work towards EngineeringEducation for Social and Environmental Justice. The project is in two parts, knowledge andcurriculum development and pedagogical development. The theoretical framework adopted wasphenomenographic learning theory combined with threshold concept theory and criticalpedagogy. The first part of the project, which will the focus of this paper, is supported by aninterdisciplinary team consisting of representatives from engineering and education together withhistory, environmental history, Asian studies, anthropology, philosophy, Indigenous studies andscience and technology studies. This team was asked to consider a range of questions to informthe critique of current practices as well as to develop a knowledge base for the socially andenvironmentally just engineer. They were asked to bring to the table key ideas, authors, texts andways of thinking from their discipline, which would enable us to begin to answer our queriesabout the role of engineering in future society. The questions used as a starting point were asfollows:1.What does engineering look like, now and in the past, which contributes to social andenvironmental justice/ injustice both locally and globally?2.What does / how should a post development critique of industrial development contribute toengineering practice in developing countries in a time of globalisation?3. What examples are there now and in the past of how engineering contributed to abuse ofpower and inequalities among people?4.How can we avoid this in the future?5.How can engineering students learn about global, cultural awareness by working withindigenous issues at home in Australia?6.What is the role of the professional engineer in contemporary society? What can/should it be?7.How can a constructivist framework help students understand and critique existing models ofengineering and redirect engineering practice toward more socially and environmentally justpractices?8.What examples exist that can be framed as learning objects?The team has worked together for over a year and developed some ways forward for mapping theknowledge domains useful for engineering students of the future, as well as integrating thisknowledge and sharing it with engineering educators to implement in a variety of pedagogicalprojects. The results of the team’s deliberations will be reported in this paper to evoke discussionaround the key questions above.

Baillie, C. (2011, June), A Multidisciplinary Approach to curriculum Development for Engineering Graduates who are Socially and Environmentally Just Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--17353

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2011 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015