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#BlackLivesMatter: A content analysis of top engineering institutions’ responses to social-political activism

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2022 CoNECD (Collaborative Network for Engineering & Computing Diversity)


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

February 20, 2022

Start Date

February 20, 2022

End Date

July 20, 2022

Conference Session

Technical Session 5 - Paper 1: #BlackLivesMatter: A content analysis of top engineering institutions’ responses to social-political activism

Tagged Topics

Diversity and CoNECD Paper Sessions

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Paper Authors


Taylor Lightner Virginia Tech Department of Engineering Education

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Taylor Lightner is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech, where she serves as a graduate research assistant. In addition, she is a student in the Disaster Resilience and Risk Management Program. Taylor received her B.S. in Industrial Engineering from Clemson University. Her research interests include broadening participation, interdisciplinary interactions, community engagement, and the societal impact of engineering infrastructure.

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Jeremi S London Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

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Dr. Jeremi London is an Assistant Professor in the Engineering Education Department at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. London is a mixed methods researcher with interests in research impact, cyberlearning, and instructional change in STEM Education. Prior to being a faculty member, London worked at the National Science Foundation, GE Healthcare, and Anheuser-Busch. She earned B.S. and M.S. degrees in Industrial Engineering, and a Ph.D. in Engineering Education from Purdue University.

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As members of both an educational institution and the society at large, it’s safe to assume that what happens to Black people in society directly impacts what happens to Black engineering students. Due to a turn of events surrounding Black Americans encounters with law enforcement, Black Lives Matter (BLM) --a movement of social-political activism that emerged in 2013-- has seen a burst of activity. Following George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor’s death, this movement has prompted a drastic increase in statements released by corporations and educational institutions-- some of which include Colleges of Engineering. There is very little insight into how engineering colleges communicate their influence in social and political movements. Utilizing “movement framing” as a lens, this study conducts a content analysis to explore educational institutions’ and leaders’ responses to race-based events that have gotten national attention from the end of May through July 2020. Specifically, we will take a closer look at messages published and retweeted on engineering departments’ Twitter accounts. This paper addresses the following research question, ‘What messages do top institutions awarding bachelor’s degrees to African Americans provide to the public in response to the Black Lives Matter movement on Twitter between May 31 and June 17?’ The findings will provide insight into engineering departments’ utilization of messaging in social-political matters that impact the students they serve.

Lightner, T., & London, J. S. (2022, February), #BlackLivesMatter: A content analysis of top engineering institutions’ responses to social-political activism Paper presented at 2022 CoNECD (Collaborative Network for Engineering & Computing Diversity) , New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/1-2--39098

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