July 26, 2021
July 26, 2021
July 19, 2022
Liberal Education/Engineering & Society
Labor unions have historically played a central role in workers' struggles against injustice, enabling social mobility while creating infrastructure for realizing social change. Engineering graduate students are not frequently given opportunities to interact with labor unions in their fields of study, despite facing a number of issues that labor unions have played significant roles in addressing. These can include issues relating to race, gender, dis/ability, socioeconomic status, mental health, and other power dynamics within workplaces. At a large public university that is a predominantly white institution (PWI), engineering student workers recently participated in a graduate student worker labor strike. A central component of the strike demands were non-reformist reforms toward the reduction of police power. These demands centered policing and police violence as a health and safety issue on campus and in society as a whole.
The present work-in-progress study seeks to use critical and intersectional lenses in an effort to identify and understand engineering graduate student motivations for participation in the labor strike. Graduate engineering students who participated in the strike engaged in semi-structured interviews, using the labor strike as a focal point for conversation topics, including students’ experiences with participation, prior and current understandings of unions, and beliefs about relationships between unions and engineering. Common themes emerging from interviews provide insight into the relationships of participants to broader cultural ideologies within engineering and conflicts or tensions that can result from the interaction of social justice transformations with traditionally held beliefs underlying engineering ideologies. This paper explores the potential of labor activism as a site of further transdisciplinary learning and personal development.
Valle, J., & Ali, I., & Bowen, C. L., & Riley, D. M. (2021, July), Experiences of Engineering Students Participating in an Abolitionist Labor Strike Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. https://peer.asee.org/37131
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