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Making the Invisible Visible: Integrating Engineering-for-Social-Justice Criteria in Humanities and Social Science Courses

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Social Responsibility and Social Justice I: Pedagogical Perspectives

Tagged Division

Liberal Education/Engineering & Society

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Paper Authors


Jon A. Leydens Colorado School of Mines

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Jon A. Leydens is an associate professor in the Division of Liberal Arts and International Studies at the Colorado School of Mines, USA, where he has been since 1997. Research and teaching interests include communication, social justice, and engineering education. Dr. Leydens is co-author of Engineering and Sustainable Community Development (Morgan and Claypool, 2010) and editor of Sociotechnical Communication in Engineering (Routledge, 2014). Dr. Leydens won the James F. Lufkin Award for the best conference paper—on the intersections between professional communication research and social justice—at the 2012 International Professional Communication Conference. In 2015, he won the Ronald S. Blicq Award for Distinction in Technical Communication Education from the Professional Communication Society of the Institute for Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE). His current research focuses on rendering visible and integrating the social justice dimensions inherent in three components of the engineering curriculum—in engineering sciences, engineering design, and humanities and social science courses. That research, conducted with co-author Juan C. Lucena, will culminate in Engineering Justice: Transforming Engineering Education and Practice (Wiley-IEEE Press, 2017).

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Juan C. Lucena Colorado School of Mines

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Juan Lucena is Professor and Director of Humanitarian Engineering at the Colorado School of Mines (CSM). Juan obtained a Ph.D. in Science and Technology Studies (STS) from Virginia Tech and a MS in STS and BS in Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). His books include Defending the Nation: U.S. Policymaking to Create Scientists and Engineers from Sputnik to the ‘War Against Terrorism’ (University Press of America, 2005), Engineering and Sustainable Community Development (Morgan &Claypool, 2010), and Engineering Education for Social Justice: Critical Explorations and Opportunities (Springer, 2013).

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Engineering practice involves social and technical dimensions. However, the bulk of an engineering education gives students little practice in thinking sociotechnically. Engineering science courses focus largely on the technical, and engineering design courses sometimes integrate the complex interplays between the social and the technical but are burdened by multiple other constraints. Courses for undergraduate engineers in the Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) often focus largely on the social but marginalize linkages to the technical. This paper addresses the sociotechnical gap in the HSS by identifying six classroom-tested Engineering for Social Justice criteria. We examine how those criteria function to foster enriched learning on the sociotechnical dimensions of engineering practice in two HSS courses. To conclude, we discuss both the benefits and limitations of using those criteria.

Leydens, J. A., & Lucena, J. C. (2016, June), Making the Invisible Visible: Integrating Engineering-for-Social-Justice Criteria in Humanities and Social Science Courses Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25671

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