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Engineering Design and Social Justice: A Systematized Literature Review

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Empathy and Human-Centered Design 1

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

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Paper Authors


Cristian Eduardo Vargas-Ordóñez Purdue University at West Lafayette

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Colombian Ph.D. student in Engineering Education at Purdue University. He is a Master in Education from the University of Los Andes in Colombia, a Master in Science, Technology, and Society from National University of Quilmes in Argentina, and B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of America in Colombia. He has belonged to Colombian educational formal and informal ambits like Pedagogic Consultant at the Planetarium of Bogotá for the project Centers of Interest in Astronomy, Innovation Mediator at the science and technology museum Maloka and Chemistry Teacher in school environments. He has worked in primary, secondary, and tertiary sectors, and in private and public companies throughout his professional life. He also develops as Hatha Radja Yoga Teacher.

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Morgan M. Hynes Purdue University at West Lafayette

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Dr. Morgan Hynes is an Associate Professor in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University and Director of the FACE Lab research group at Purdue. In his research, Hynes explores the use of engineering to integrate academic subjects in K-12 classrooms. Specific research interests include design metacognition among learners of all ages; the knowledge base for teaching K-12 STEM through engineering; the relationships among the attitudes, beliefs, motivation, cognitive skills, and engineering skills of K-16 engineering learners; and teaching engineering.

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United Nations, through the document “Transforming our world: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, invited all the nations to defeat poverty and foster social justice for all humanity. The STEM professional, as trained citizens with the abilities, to help in diminishing poverty, discrimination and inequality, is called to be active agents in this aim. For that, design can be considered as an integrative area where, through practice, as well as natural and social sciences can come together and tackle social problems directly. But, are these professionals prepared for that challenge? According to previous research, Colombian student and professionals of Chemical Engineering consider that they do not perceive themselves as active agents in the solution of social problems like poverty or armed conflict. Alike, when it was investigated in a later study where they think this inaction comes from, the general answer was related to the poor or nonexistent teaching of human or social sciences during the college stage, phenomena that are possibly shared by other engineers around the globe. Even this is a specific case in one of the STEM areas, it is common to hear from many agents in society that natural scientists and engineers are disconnected from social problems. The first approaches to the academic literature related to this topic suggest there are few empirical studies related how is the integration of social justice and design in the educational context of STEM areas, in particular engineering, despite the high amount of conceptual and philosophical information that can be found in books and academic articles. This systematized literature review seeks to tackle this situation by exploring the following research questions: What type of studies have been conducted to integrate social justice in design within STEM education?, and What methods have been used to achieve it? These questions were supported by subquestions such as How design is conceived in these articles?, How social justice is conceived?, How is conceived the relationship between these two concepts?, What populations have been studied?, and What were the main findings? which were useful for constructing the analysis categories. In total, there were analyzed 19 peer-reviewed articles published between 2009 and 2019 and obtained from four education and technology collection databases. The findings were organized according to where, in the educational path (K-12, university and professional), the research was done, as an attempt to structure the answers of each question. Within the results, it was possible to observe an extensive use of qualitative methods for researching around the interventions, mainly case study and ethnography, and a conception of design as a process for generating artifacts (technology). Both the conceptions of design and social justice and their relationship are contemplated in these three grouper themes. Finally, this research was only restricted to articles written in English, and not in other languages, which could be considered as a limitation.

Vargas-Ordóñez, C. E., & Hynes, M. M. (2020, June), Engineering Design and Social Justice: A Systematized Literature Review Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34551

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