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Design And Society: A General Education Experience For Freshmen

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Multidisciplinary Engineering Courses II

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.404.1 - 10.404.8



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Paper Authors

author page

Carol Hasenberg

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

DESIGN & SOCIETY: A GENERAL EDUCATION EXPERIENCE FOR FRESHMEN Carol Hasenberg, Betsy Natter, Sukhwant Jhaj Portland State University, Portland, Oregon


As a part of its commitment for continuous program improvement, the Maseeh College of Engineering and Computer Science of Portland State University (PSU), Portland, Oregon, has, in collaboration with the university’s Freshman Inquiry Program, developed a year-long general education inquiry course titled Design & Society. This course is part of PSU’s University Studies program, which uses a team-oriented, active-learning based approach to general education. In Design & Society students learn and apply design skills to solve real problems while also considering the related societal, cultural, and historical dimensions. The objectives of the course from the college’s perspective were to give students an overview of and experience in design and design professions, give students an opportunity to do hands-on design projects, encourage students interested in majoring in design-related professions, including engineering, use pedagogical techniques from engineering, and introduce non engineering students to an engineer’s way of understanding and creatively engaging with the world. With its emphasis on critical thinking, communication, diversity, and ethical issues and social responsibility, Design & Society was envisioned as a means of broadening the overview of the profession without needing to expand the current introductory course in engineering offered to engineering majors in an already full schedule. In addition, the course gives an opportunity for learning teamwork in a true multidisciplinary environment which is lacking in an all-engineering freshman course. As the course progresses assessment will be done using surveys and portfolio reviews.

Why Design & Society?

The current learning community-based freshman experience at Portland State University (PSU) began 10 years ago when University Studies debuted as the university’s general education program. The overall goals of the University Studies program are to teach students critical thinking, communication, an understanding of ethical issues and social responsibility, and an appreciation of diversity. University Studies is a four-year general education program offering Freshman and Sophomore Inquiry sequences, junior level Cluster Courses that help students focus on a particular theme of inquiry, as well as the Senior Capstone project. The Freshman Inquiry sequence (FRINQ) is the introduction to University Studies in a 5-credit-per-term, 3- term sequence.

A FRINQ course features moderate-sized main session with a maximum of 36 students plus smaller mentor sections of about 12 students headed by an undergraduate student mentor specially chosen for their intellectual and social skills. Design & Society is one of 9 themes being offered in scholastic year 2004-2005 at PSU. The remaining themes study Chaos & Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright ©2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Hasenberg, C. (2005, June), Design And Society: A General Education Experience For Freshmen Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14532

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: © 2005 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