Asee peer logo

Engineering Collaborations With Liberal Arts

Download Paper |


2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Engineering and Other Disciplines

Tagged Division

Multidisciplinary Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.544.1 - 14.544.5



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Monica Anderson University of Alabama

author page

Beth Todd University of Alabama

author page

Susan Burkett University of Alabama

author page

Garry Warren University of Alabama

author page

Marcus Brown University of Alabama

author page

David Cordes University of Alabama

Download Paper |

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

Engineering Collaborations with Liberal Arts


Meaningful engagement of engineering students with the liberal arts presents a unique set of challenges. This paper outlines a series of activities designed to foster collaborations between engineering and the liberal arts. Over the last few years, we have been engaged in a number of activities on campus where students and faculty from engineering work side-by-side with students and faculty from the theatre, dance, telecommunications & film, music, and other disciplines. In this paper we describe a set of cooperative activities on our campus, explore the benefits and lessons learned from these activities, examine the resources and relationships required for them to succeed, and provide a model for the institutionalization of these collaborative ventures.


As part of an institution-wide initiative, our College of Engineering has recently seen an increased emphasis on interactions and collaborations with other programs and colleges at the university. The institution is actively promoting a Creative Campus initiative that focuses on the engagement of students in a wide range of activities. Creative Campus is an organization for students, faculty and staff to support the arts and creative activity on campus.

These activities are similar to other initiatives and ventures that are taking place across the country. Several institutions1,2 have investigated formal linkages between an engineering degree and the liberal arts, developing a Bachelor of Arts in Engineering. Other initiatives provide course experiences that introduce the field of engineering to non-majors 3,4,5. Still other efforts look at incorporating fundamental issues of other disciplines, such as leadership, into the engineering curriculum 6,7. Finally, several examples exist where interdisciplinary courses are established that bridge engineering with other disciplines 8,9,10.

The concept of a tighter integration between engineering and the humanities & fine arts has been around for many years 11. A properly educated engineer should have an understanding of the social sciences and humanities. However, such a viewpoint is not without its critics 12. A curriculum that embeds this linkage into specific course content is one approach 13, but such a model is difficult to implement and has not received much national attention. While not everyone agrees that engineering faculty are resistant to this proposed change 14, there has been little movement nationally with respect to true curricula change.

Collaborative Ventures

In this section we will briefly overview four collaborations that have taken place on our campus over the past two years. Each of these collaborations was developed independently through conversations between faculty and administrators in the two colleges. The length of engagement for each of these collaborations was approximately one semester in length; two involved upper- division engineering students and two involved freshman engineering students.

Anderson, M., & Todd, B., & Burkett, S., & Warren, G., & Brown, M., & Cordes, D. (2009, June), Engineering Collaborations With Liberal Arts Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5552

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: © 2009 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