June 15, 2019
June 15, 2019
October 19, 2019
Stimulating students’ imaginations and promoting their ability to navigate ambiguities are among some of the major goals of teaching ethics. Yet, often imagination and ambiguity do not get treated as crucial in ethics instruction for engineers. Rather, the primacy of eliminating ambiguities through empirical and reductive methods dominates STEM education paradigms. In this paper, we argue that scholars of liberatory praxis and theory, in particular the approaches outlined by Paulo Freire and Gloria Anzaldúa, offer unique contributions for creating an environment that encourages imagination and engagement with ambiguity. Though it remains an open question whether imagination and ambiguity benefit technical aspects of engineering design, learning and practicing ethical reasoning requires imaginal reasoning that supports adaptive responses to ambiguous circumstances. We present our experiences with developing a specific lesson plan aimed at bolstering imaginative modes for an ethics module that has been implemented in a NSF-sponsored Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program in a large land-grant university. The sample ethics discussion session was developed as part of the professional development activities in the program. Some major topics discussed in the session included ethical theory, ethical reasoning, bias, power, oppression, identity, and two case studies on environmental injustice. During the session, students were engaged in several freewrite tasks and reflected on their thoughts and feelings. After the program, students were invited to complete a post-program survey and participate in a focus-group interview. Students reflected on their research experiences, social experiences, and different professional development activities including the ethics discussion session. With regards to the session, our intention was to learn about students’ experiences rather than exploring a particular question or quantifying the effectiveness of the session. Overall, we received positive and unexpected responses from participants that may shed light on the importance and relevance of liberatory praxis and theory as a key resource in bridging conventional STEM design paradigms and ethics.
Jalali, Y., & Matheis, C., & Lohani, V. K. (2019, June), Ethics Instruction and the Role of Liberatory Praxis and Theory Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32758
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