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Common Ground: How A Course Collaboration Between Engineering And Women’s Studies Produced Fine Art

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Conference

2005 Annual Conference

Location

Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Integrating H&SS in Engineering III

Page Count

13

Page Numbers

10.323.1 - 10.323.13

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/14241

Download Count

25

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Paper Authors

author page

Elisabeth Armstrong

author page

Donna Riley

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Abstract
NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 3661

Common Ground: How a course collaboration between engineering and women’s studies produced fine art

Donna Riley, Assistant Professor, Picker Engineering Program Elisabeth Armstrong, Assistant Professor, Women’s Studies Program Smith College Northampton, MA 01063

Abstract The Mass and Energy Balances course at Smith College collaborated with the Women’s Studies course on Youth Culture and Gender and with the feminist art collective subRosa to examine the relationships between cultures of production and the production of culture. The product of this collaboration was the interactive art installation “Can You See us Now? ¿Ya Nos Pueden Ver?” part of the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (Mass MoCA) exhibit “The Interventionists: Art in the Social Sphere.”

The museum site itself once housed the Sprague Electric capacitor factory, but globalization pressures resulted in exporting production to Juárez, Mexico. Thus, engineering students conducted a life cycle assessment to quantify the environmental impacts of capacitor production in a globalized economy, while the Youth Culture and Gender class examined how conditions of life shaped by global production cycles link the cultures of young women in North Adams and Ciudad Juárez.

Students in both courses met occasionally throughout the semester to plan their contribution to the installation, which included fabricating art objects (including a representative circuit and capacitor) and producing a GIS map of materials flows in capacitor production. Each class had its own set of conventional deliverables including term papers, ethnographic research projects, ethics essays, and formal project reports.

The collaboration process is discussed, including how such projects are generated, how two distinct cultures of students can be brought to work productively together, and how to work well with off-site collaborators, which include a Sprague engineer as well as the art collective. Finally, reflections are offered about the impact of this collaborative project on students, the academy, and society.

Introduction

In the spring of 2004, the Mass and Energy Balances course at Smith College collaborated with the Women’s Studies course on Youth Culture and Gender and with the feminist art collective subRosa [1] to examine the relationships between cultures of production and the production of culture. The product of this collaboration was the interactive art installation “Can You See us Now? ¿Ya Nos Pueden Ver?” part of the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (Mass MoCA) exhibit “The Interventionists: Art in the Social Sphere.” [2]

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering

Armstrong, E., & Riley, D. (2005, June), Common Ground: How A Course Collaboration Between Engineering And Women’s Studies Produced Fine Art Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. https://peer.asee.org/14241

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