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Engineering, Social Justice, and Peace: Strategies for Pedagogical, Curricular, and Institutional Reform

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Engineering Ethics and Justice

Tagged Division

Engineering Ethics

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.609.1 - 22.609.12



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Paper Authors


Dean Nieusma Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Orcid 16x16

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Dean Nieusma is Assistant Professor in Science and Technology Studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. His research investigates interdisciplinary technology design practices and strategies for integrating social and technical analysis in design pedagogy.

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ASEE 2011 VancouverAbstract for Ethics Division panel session on Engineering, Social Justice, Peace, and theEnvironmentEngineering, Social Justice, and Peace:Strategies for Pedagogical, Curricular, and Institutional ReformThis paper surveys and analyzes a range of progressive engineering education reformefforts that extend from explicit concerns with social justice, or what Joe Herkert hasusefully called questions of “marco-ethics” in engineering. The paper categorizes theseefforts and shows how they work at various levels of educational reform: pedagogicalreform in classrooms, curricular reform of degree programs, and organizational reformwithin educational and professional institutions.The different approaches to social justice-based educational reform are identified basedon a review of relevant literatures and through initiatives carried out by members of theinternational network of Engineering, Social Justice, and Peace. The literature reviewincorporates work on engineering education but also includes relevant works fromengineering ethics, engineering studies, and development engineering. These literaturesprovide both empirical case materials and conceptual tools for analyzing and categorizingthe different approaches. In addition to the literature review, the paper will draw ondirect experiences with current social justice initiatives at Rensselaer PolytechnicInstitute, Smith College, the University of Western Australia, Binghamton University,and the Colorado School of Mines.To bound the analysis, the paper will focus on three facets of engineering education andits reform related to social justice concerns: 1) assumptions about what “engineering” isand how its boundaries should be defined or redefined to respond better to socialinjustices; 2) engineering competencies for social justice work and the role of engineeringeducation in developing those competencies; and 3) questions surrounding the possibilityof effective public participation in engineering problem solving, especially participationby members of social groups suffering from injustices. In each of these areas, specialattention will be given to the how the traditional social/technical divide in engineeringeducation is negotiated and how those negotiations play out at different levels of reform.

Nieusma, D. (2011, June), Engineering, Social Justice, and Peace: Strategies for Pedagogical, Curricular, and Institutional Reform Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--17890

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